Brook-Krasny, Lilikakis clash at Dyker forum

All was not sweetness and light as Democratic Assemblymember Alec-Brook Krasny and his Republican challenger, Stamatis Lilikakis, tangled during the annual candidate’s forum presented by the Dyker Heights Civic Association.

The encounter took place in front of a standing-room-only crowd at St. Philip’s Parish Hall, 80th Street and 11th Avenue, during the group’s monthly meeting, Tuesday, October 14. The 46th Assembly District, which Brook-Krasny has represented since 2007) covers portions of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Coney Island, Seagate and Brighton Beach.

It got so heated that, at one point, Brook-Krasny told Lilikakis that the Republican candidate had helped him make up his mind about matching-fund legislation that would help candidates run competitive campaigns.

“I am going to vote for public financing [of elections] because I want an opponent who debates with me at a very serious level, who doesn’t just say we have to do this and that but says how,” Brook-Krasny told Lilikakis, contending that Lilikakis’s Republican primary challenger, Lucretia Regina-Potter – whose campaign he said was severely underfunded and therefore at a distinct disadvantage compared to Lilikakis’s campaign — would have debated on the issues had she been the candidate.

“If you want to vote for public financing, fine,” Lilikakis retorted, “because you raised a lot more money than I did.”

The exchange came toward the end of the debate between the two, with Brook-Krasny talking about his achievements in the Assembly and beforehand, and Lilikakis contending that businesses and residents are leaving New York because of high taxes and, in the case of the businesses, too much regulation.

It’s not so easy to cut taxes, said Brook-Krasny. “You have to find a balance,” he stressed. “The state budget has to be balanced and sometimes you have to make difficult choices, but at the same time, you can’t raise taxes.” Nonetheless, he said, “We are bringing down the cost of doing business in New York State,” while also working to create jobs, enhancing education (through universal pre-k and expanded after school programming, for example).

Lilikakis sought to position himself as the anti-politician, an everyman running for office for the first time because he believes New York is going in the wrong direction. “How many of you,” he asked the crowd, “have had their property taxes and expenses go down? Are we creating more jobs? The answer is no. We need people who are going to listen to what people need and understand what people need. You can’t have politicians voting the party line,” something Lilikakis said Brook-Krasny did 100 percent of the time.”

One of their sharpest areas of disagreement was the DREAM Act, which Brook-Krasny supports and Lilikakis opposes. “The people who are here illegally shouldn’t be the first ones to get help,” said Lilikakis. “It’s not fair to give assistance to someone who is doing it the wrong way when people doing it the right way are being penalized.”

But, said Brook-Krasny, “Sometimes you have to think about leveling the playing field so strong people enter the field and help the country.” To that end, he noted, he had introduced legislation that would help students financially while they are in college, and then require repayment of a percentage of their salaries “down the road” when they have a job. “It has worked well in Oregon and Washington,” Brook-Krasny added.

The two also disagreed about whether businesses were leaving New York State for places where there were lower taxes and fewer regulations.

While Lilikakis contended that there continues to be a mass exodus of businesses from the state, Brook-Krasny said, “it’s just not true. We have such an incredible labor force,” he stressed, noting also that business taxes are now “at the level of 1967” and that the state has nurtured businesses with such programs as Global NY and Start Up NY.



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