Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis and her Democratic opponent John Mancuso had a friendly debate at the Fort Hamilton Senior Center at a candidates forum organized by the Bay Ridge Council on Aging on October 17.
In her opening statements, Malliotakis talked about her accomplishments during her freshman term. I closed the $13 billion deficit without raising any taxes and fees. I eliminated clothing sales tax and payroll tax for small businesses, she said, adding that she brought back the X27 bus and would like to restore the B37 as well.
Mancuso said that as a small business owner, he doesnt like the direction in which Albany is going. I know how to take funding and spread it across the district so that the hardworking people get what they deserve, he said.
Mancuso said that he just wants to help people. I will be a fighter and work hard. The only promise is that I will do my absolute best.
Peter Killen, moderator of the debate and president of the Bay Ridge AARP, asked each candidate what they would do to restore funding for senior centers.
I will continue to do what I have done for the past year, Malliotakis said, noting that she helped restore Title XX funding to help keep open the Bay Ridge Center for Older Adults.
More needs to be done, contended Mancuso. We need to start getting money back downstate from Albany, he said. We have to make sure that able-bodied working people have a job so they are not eating benefits that can be used on seniors.
A constituent asked how each candidate would deal with partisanship and also what they would do to help veterans.
I will work with anyone, anywhere to get the job done, Malliotakis said, noting that she has worked with Democrats such as State Senator Diane Savino to reduce regulations on the shipping industry and District Leader Joanne Seminara on spousal refusal.
As for veterans, Malliotakis said that she would create an online job bank in New York State for veterans.
Anything that comes to veterans, I support 100 percent, Mancuso said. We are outsourcing overseas and thats why jobs arent here. We can put in place, on a state level, laws that keep small businesses in the state.
Each candidate was asked about their feelings on marriage equality.
I am Catholic and support marriage equality, just as long as there isnt a law that requires any private institution to give health care, Mancuso said. The constitution says we are all created equal. We should have the right to marry whomever we want.
Malliotakis said, I believe marriage is between one man and one woman. Thats the definition and should remain that way.
One constituent asked about the candidates feelings on the DREAM Act.
Some of the people I have spoken to are 18-year-olds who dont know any other country than the U.S. They dont even speak the other language. Its like me being sent back to Italy, Mancuso said. Students who want to learn, to go to college and be productive, tax-paying citizens should be supported.
This response outraged some of the audience, who charged that those in the country illegally should not be supported by taxpayers.
Its not the kids fault, contended Mancuso. I wont penalize.
Malliotakis said she was adamantly opposed to the legislation, noting that she is the daughter of a Cuban and Greek immigrants. We came here and worked hard. This [the DREAM Act] takes taxpayer funds away from American citizens [and gives them to those] who are here breaking the law.
Each candidate had the chance to ask the other a question.
Malliotakis asked, Why did you move into the 64th Assembly District?
Mancuso answered, This is the best district in the state. I lived a mile out, but I like where I live and my neighbors.
Mancuso asked, What do you plan on proposing if you get reelected?
Malliotakis said that she wants to continue building on the momentum of all the things we have accomplished last term. I would like to see the B37 restored and more regulations reduced on small business. We need to start controlling the toll situation and be fiscally responsible.
In closing remarks, Mancuso said that he wants to make sure that there are more handicapped accessible subways, tolls imposed on East River crossings, a monthly roundtable of community leaders and a higher burden on people traveling from Long Island to the city. I will fight to make sure we get our fair share, because we are not, he concluded.