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Politics & Government

Donovan, Rose to Face Each Other in First Bay Ridge Debate

Bay Ridge Community Council Forum Set for Oct. 12

One of the hottest congressional races in the country will likely grow more heated when the candidates meet for their first Bay Ridge debate on Oct. 12.

Republican U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan and his Democratic challenger Max Rose have been invited by the leaders of the Bay Ridge Community Council to take part in a candidate’s forum on Friday, Oct. 12, at Xaverian High School, 7100 Shore Road, at 7 p.m.

It will mark the first time Donovan and Rose have gone head to head in a debate on the Brooklyn side of the 11th Congressional District, which the incumbent has represented since 2015.

The district takes in several neighborhoods in Southwest Brooklyn, including Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, and Gravesend, and covers the entire borough of Staten Island.

The council has also invited Green Party candidate Henry Bardel to participate in the forum.

Donovan’s campaign spokesperson, Jessica Proud, confirmed to this newspaper that he will be there. Jennifer Blatus, Rose’s campaign spokesperson, confirmed that he had accepted the invitation.

What political fans had hoped would be the first major Brooklyn showdown between Donovan and Rose fizzled when the incumbent turned down the chance to take part in an Oct. 3 forum sponsored by the Bay Ridge Interagency Council on Aging.

Donovan’s absence gave Rose and Bardel the chance to introduce themselves to voters and talk uninterrupted about issues.

Proud told this newspaper that Donovan was unable to attend the debate because he was in Washington D.C. that morning for a meeting with “the defense minister of a foreign nation.”

Donovan returned to New York City later that day, Proud said.

“He had to go back down yesterday for a meeting with VA Secretary (Robert) Wilkie this morning. Whether it’s in D.C. or the district, Dan is always working,” Proud told this newspaper n an email on Oct. 5.

Rose, an Army veteran, is the first post-9/11 combat veteran to run for public office in New York City. He served in Afghanistan, where he earned a Purple Heart after sustaining serious wounds when his vehicle was bombed. He realized the importance of politics, he said, when he was told that Congress had authorized $100 million in the federal budget to re-enforce military combat vehicles. It saved his life, he said.

At the Oct. 3 forum, Rose took aim at congressional Republicans for approving the Trump tax cut, which he said benefited the rich at the expense of the middle class. The tax cut was akin to “shipping $1 trillion to people who really don’t need it,” he said.

Rose predicted that at some point in the future, the GOP will suddenly become alarmed at the enormous budget deficit its tax cut created and seek to compensate for the financial shortfall by wildly cutting funding for important federal programs like Medicare that senior citizens depend on.

But Rose also said he would go to Washington D.C. to work, not to play politics.

“I’m not going to be the type of Democrat who goes to Washington with a pitchfork in my hand,” he said. “Donald Trump is president. We will re-litigate that in 2020.”

Rose called for universal health care, a ban on the sale of AR-15 rifles, and advocated for an all-out, comprehensive approach to fighting the opioid epidemic.

“We can do this because that is the story of our country,” Rose told the audience.

Bardel, a retired Parks Department supervisor, said he is running for Congress to combat income inequality. “The reason I’m running is the one percent,” he said. “The richest people in the United States hold 35 to 40 percent of the wealth. This is a mal-distribution of wealth. It is causing tremendous problems.”

One of the problems is poverty, according to Bardel. “A lot of elderly people are in poverty,” he said. “This is a disgrace.”

Bardel called for the establishment of a single-payer health care system. “We are the only industrialized country in the world that does not have single payer health care. Some people don’t have health care at all,” he said.

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