Republican Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis and her Democratic opponent Adam Baumel spent more time trying to impress the audience than battling each other at a recent Bay Ridge debate as both candidates sought to tout their accomplishments and present their positions on issues.
For Baumel, a U.S. Navy veteran and a first-time Assembly candidate, the Oct. 3 debate sponsored by the Bay Ridge Inter-Agency Council on Aging offered the chance to introduce himself to voters and make a good first impression.
Malliotakis meanwhile, pointed to her work in Albany fighting against Democratic Party excesses as a reason votes should re-elect her.
Malliotakis represents the 64th Assembly District, a seat that cuts across two boroughs, taking in parts of Bay Ridge and Staten Island. She was first elected in 2010.
“Part of my job is fighting against bad policies,” Malliotakis told the audience at the debate, which took place at the Fort Hamilton Senior Center at 9941 Fort Hamilton Parkway.
Among the policies she and other Republicans successfully fought against was a proposal by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo to change the distribution of funds to senior citizen programs around the state. Malliotakis said it would have resulted in a $17 million cut to senior citizen centers.
She is also opposed to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to close Rikers Island and open jails in four of the five boroughs, and said she is against a city proposal to open injection centers around the city to allow drug addicts to inject heroin safely and avoid spreading disease by sharing used hypodermic needles.
“I’m proud to be leading the fight against them,” Malliotakis said.
Malliotakis is now taking aim at New York City’s property taxes, which she said are too high and in need of revision. Community Board 10, which encompasses Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Fort Hamilton, “pays among the highest tax rates in the city of New York,” she said. She is proposing a cap on property taxes.
For Malliotakis, a win in the Nov. 6 election would be especially sweet given that she ran against de Blasio for mayor in 2017 and lost in a landslide.
Standing the way of a fifth Malliotakis term is Baumel, who is making his first run at public office after serving in the Navy and working as an aide to Assemblymember Michael Benedetto, a Bronx Democrat.
Baumel is currently a driver for a ride sharing service. He primarily drives physically disabled people.
He served in the Navy from 2009 to 2013 and attended John Jay College of Criminal Justice on the GI Bill, intending to pursue a career in assisting military veterans. “I came here with the idea of serving veterans. It’s a tough process, coming home from military service,” he told the audience at the debate.
He worked for Benedetto in 2016.
While the Assembly race marks Baumel’s first run for public office, he is no stranger to politics. He previously ran for a position in the Brooklyn Democratic County Committee.
Baumel said he decided to run for public office after hearing about corruption by officials. “After seeing the corruption, I knew I had to get involved,” he said.
He vowed to fight for more affordable housing in the district. “I’ve seen how underserved our communities are. We need to make a change,” he said.
Baumel took aim at unreliable mass transit and said he would advocate for the construction of elevators at subway stations and the elimination of the one-way toll on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge in favor of a two-way tolls.
One of his proposals would involve creating or extending a bus route from the Brooklyn Veterans Administration hospital in Bay Ridge to Staten Island.
Baumel promised to keep in close contact with constituents if he wins by holding at least two town halls each year.