Bay Ridge Council on Aging hosts District 43 City Council debate

Incumbent Democratic City Councilmember Vincent Gentile sparred with his two challengers during a debate hosted by the Bay Ridge Council on Aging at the Fort Hamilton Senior Center the morning of Wednesday, October 2.

In the forum moderated by Peter Killen, Republican candidate John Quaglione, Green Party candidate Patrick Dwyer and Gentile hashed out the issues that mean most to residents of the 43rd Council District.

Dwyer said that the main issue he would focus on if elected is affordable housing and energy sustainability. He works as a solar energy worker with the country’s largest residential solar panel installer.

“I think the city of New York could use a Green New Deal,” he contended, adding that the city must look into ways to reducing its carbon footprint.

Quaglione, who is deputy chief of staff to State Senator Marty Golden, said that he is running to improve the quality of life in the neighborhood.

“For the past 10 years, we have lost funding for parks, schools and libraries,” he contended. “We are looking to create senior housing, increasing eligibility for senior rent programs, restoring weekend express bus service, graffiti removal and cleaner parks.”

Gentile said that while he has been in office, property values have skyrocketed across the district. He said that, during his tenure, he was instrumental in restoring 58th Street ferry service, as well as in allocating funding to get 92nd Street repaved properly after the sinkhole, shutting down numerous massage parlors and 93 Lounge, installing security cameras, eliminating parking meters on Sundays, opening two greenmarkets, bringing an Eco Dock to the 69th Street Pier and helping the Department of Sanitation collect trash twice a day along commercial strips. If re-elected, Gentile would be the most senior member of the Council.

The candidates were asked about how they felt about the practice of stop, question and frisk. Gentile and Quaglione said that they supported it, but Dwyer said that he “completely disagrees…stop and frisk does not work.”

All candidates said that they were in favor of Citi Bikes and agreed that the city should be more bike-friendly in places where it’s feasible.

Former CB10 member Bob Cassara specifically asked if candidates supported bike lanes on Bay Ridge Parkway, which was the scene of a fatal accident last month. All said that it was up to the community board to determine the best location for bike lanes, but did not say whether or not they personally supported them on Bay Ridge Parkway.

The candidates were asked if they would do anything to make the city more automobile-friendly.

“It’s not the automobile, it’s the fuel,” Dwyer said. “I am in favor of more mass transit, including a high speed monorail across the Verrazano Bridge. We need a green vision. What can we do to be sustainable?”

Quaglione said that “cars are definitely necessary, but there really is no real solution to parking. We need to take and mark the [parking] spaces [where parking meters were removed]. I will fight with the Department of Transportation to do it.”

All candidates agreed that minimum wage should be increased and that charter schools do not belong in the district.

Each candidate had the opportunity to ask the others a question.

Dwyer declined, but Quaglione and Gentile obliged.

Quaglione asked Dwyer what he made of Assemblymember Bill Colton’s endorsement of Gentile, particularly over the proposed Gravesend waste transfer station.

Gentile currently opposes the station, but back in 2006, he voted in favor of the Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Program, which aimed to share the responsibility of garbage disposal across all five boroughs, instead of focusing on Staten Island. The transfer station was included in that plan, which was supported by the vast majority of councilmembers. A study was done on the station’s environmental impacts after the vote, and Gentile switched his position based on that.

“I am against the waste transfer station,” Dwyer said. “But I’m not going to debate that and go into this kind of debate.”

Then Quaglione asked Gentile if he was going to “play up his seniority arguments,” such as saying he was interested in being council speaker.

“If it helps my district and if it comes to that, I will be available to be speaker,” Gentile said.

Gentile asked Quaglione if he was “for or against the referendum on the ballot November 5?”

Quaglione said that he did not know what the referendum was.

“It’s on casino gambling,” Gentile said, to which Quaglione responded that he was not.

The 43rd City Council District includes Bay Ridge, Fort Hamilton, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and Bath Beach.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 5.

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