Below are the answers of the City Council candidates in District 43, Democrat Justin Brannan, Republican/Conservative John Quaglione and the Reform Party’s Bob Capano, to four questions originally submitted to this newspaper by attendees at the candidates forum we sponsored in August, prior to the primaries.
Is historic preservation in this district a priority for you?
Justin Brannan: Yes, I am a strong believer in historic preservation where it makes sense.
Bob Capano: Historic preservation is indeed a priority for me. So many families, like mine, have called our community home for their entire life. Now, even more people are discovering the magic of our neighborhood, whether it’s the famous Gingerbread House in Bay Ridge, or the renowned Dyker Heights Christmas (not holiday!) lights.
John Quaglione: Preserving the monuments, homes and buildings that reflect the values and history of our district’s residents is important. That’s why I signed the Columbus Citizens Foundation’s pledge to protect Columbus monuments and statues both in our district, and across the city.
What are your plans for aiding seniors?
Justin Brannan: They don’t call it the Greatest Generation for nothing. Our seniors are the pillars of our community who have built our neighborhoods into what they are today and they deserve our full support. I believe that no person should be forced to choose between keeping a roof over their heads, putting food on the table, or buying the medication they need to stay healthy – especially seniors living on fixed incomes and veterans. As the next City Councilmember, I will work to build more affordable senior housing within our community and ensure that our neighborhoods are more accessible to seniors and people with disabilities – and that includes our public transportation system’s accessibility so that all residents have the ability to utilize our subways and buses to the fullest. I will also advocate to fix the MTA’s Access-A-Ride program to make the service more reliable and the system easier to use.
Bob Capano: Our community is blessed to have so many who were born and raised here want to spend their entire lives in our community. This is a testament to how special our neighborhood is. I will always fight in the City Council to ensure our senior centers are properly funded, meal programs are protected, and that we build more affordable senior housing. I still remember as a senior at Xaverian High School we had to choose how to volunteer in the community each Friday. I decided to go to our senior centers to serve meals, call Bingo and help anyway I could. This was a great experience.
John Quaglione: Our seniors face a housing crunch. Our community is diverse, growing and has great schools, making it an ideal location for families and individuals of all backgrounds. That, however, comes with its own set of challenges. Chief among these is an increase in the cost of housing, with seniors being priced out of dwellings they’ve inhabited for decades. To alleviate this, we should be seeking to build new units of senior affordable housing, as well as other senior facilities (medical, recreational, etc) nearby. My plan is to build more senior housing, specifically senior affordable housing, to help keep our seniors in our community, which they’ve contributed to so much. The least we can do to protect our parents and grandparents is to provide them with affordable housing and increase SCRIE and STAR.
How would you handle the issue of bikes riding on the sidewalk?
Justin Brannan: It is critical that we all share the roads and encourage bike riders to use the streets. Improving road safety and reducing traffic are two important elements that will help bike riders feel more comfortable riding on the street and off the sidewalk. We all deserve smooth, safe streets that we can walk, bike and drive on. And, no matter how you get around—behind the wheel, on a bike, or on foot—you have a responsibility to share the road so we can all safely get to where we’re going.
Bob Capano: Bikes riding on the sidewalk is a great danger to our seniors and parents with young children. This practice must be controlled.
John Quaglione: Bikes riding on the sidewalk is illegal and dangerous to the safety of both pedestrians and bikers. There are bike lanes in Bay Ridge, which I will work to fix, for cyclists to use to get around. Biking on sidewalks isn’t the answer.
How can we, as a city, protect our recent immigrant friends and neighbors?
Justin Brannan: Representing our community means making sure everyone has a fair shot at opportunity no matter who they are, or where they come from and I will be a city councilmember for all that call the 43rd District home. We need to ensure that our city government fosters a strong support system for immigrants and stands up to the divisive and discriminatory rhetoric coming from Trump’s White House. Now more than ever, we need to elect people with guts – people who aren’t afraid to stand up for what’s right, even when nobody’s looking. That’s me.
Bob Capano: Those who have come to our country and community legally deserve the same protections as all other citizens. Any harassment or racism must never be tolerated. One of the greatest times in my life was managing baseball teams with the 68th Precinct Youth Council, where children of all races and religions played together as a team. Sometimes adults can take lessons from our kids.
John Quaglione: First, we can provide a path to citizenship for our undocumented immigrant friends and neighbors. Second, we can extend DACA for the children of undocumented immigrants in our community. It’s unconscionable and immoral to separate families. Lastly, we oppose any type of legislation, law or effort to discriminate based on religion, race or creed. As a city councilman I will work with non-profits on educating the immigrant community.
The 43rd District encompasses the neighborhoods of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and Bath Beach. The seat is currently held by Councilmember Vincent Gentile, who has represented the district for more than 13 years, and who cannot run again due to term limits.