Councilmember Vincent Gentile went toe-to-toe with his challenger John Quaglione at a forum hosted by the Brooklyn Real Estate Board at the Dyker Beach Golf Club on Wednesday, October 2.
Quaglione, who is deputy chief of staff to State Senator Marty Golden, got to throw punches first, contending “for the past 10 years, this neighborhood has gone from the top to the bottom.”
Quaglione explained that when Gentile entered office in 2003 – after serving in the state senate and essentially switching seats with Golden – the 43rd District was at the top of the list when it came to receiving funding. Today, it is second to last.
“This means that every other neighborhood in the city of New York, except one in Queens, gets more of the tax dollars that you pay,” he said. “All your money going to City Hall is going someplace else. That’s not right and that needs to change.”
Quaglione accused Gentile of being “inconsistent” with his views on the proposed Gravesend Waste Transfer Station and term limits.
“He is running for a third term, even though he said he was against it,” Quaglione said. “He used to oppose lu-lus [member items] but now he supports them. He takes $4,000 from tax money to run a committee [a new Libraries Subcommittee] that doesn’t have any members.”
Quaglione charged that the district has been “stagnant for too long.
“My opponent goes with the flow,” he contended. “There are no new ideas to increase the number of police officers on our streets, no talk of restoring weekend express bus service in Bensonhurst. There is no plan to create an abandoned property tax force. Locations sit there year after year with graffiti and garbage. There is no conversation about senior housing.”
But Gentile came back swinging, saying that he had a recession to deal with during his term.
“The economy is bad, but when you look here at our neighborhood, it’s still strong. Property values are high, we have tree-lines streets and the best schools,” he said. “We were rated the best area in Brooklyn to raise a family. By showing leadership and advocacy, in my case, it brings better results.”
Gentile said that during his time in office, he helped get a number of things done in the district, including passing a bill to lower restaurant fines; advocating for Summer Stroll; restoring the B37; bringing an Eco Dock to the 69th Street Pier; allocating $400,000 in funds for street paving, as well as getting new funding for graffiti removal; bringing two-hour muni-meters to the district and enforcing a five-minute grace period for them and bringing 5,000 new elementary school seats to District 20.
“That gives you an indication of how hot Bay Ridge is,” Gentile said. “People are coming in droves. We have more new schools constructed in this district than in any other. It’s easy to see why this is a good community.”
If re-elected, Gentile will be the most senior councilmember. He said that in his final term, he will add 3,000 more police officers on the street, as well add firefighters; stop hospital closures, make the 58th Street ferry permanent and “make sure our next school chancellor is a real educator.
“We now stand at the door of fixing what’s wrong with the city,” Gentile said. “The experience, clout and leadership that go with the position are mine and I plan to use that seniority to help this community.”
The 43rd Council District represents Bay Ridge, Fort Hamilton, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and Bath Beach.
Election Day is Tuesday, November 5.