By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Local politicians and political hopefuls gathered at the Sutton Place Synagogue last Tuesday evening to discuss their platforms at an event for local candidates hosted by the 17th Precinct Community Council. Democratic incumbents Brian Kavanagh, who represents the 74th Assembly District, and Carolyn Maloney, the U.S. Representative for New York’s 12th congressional district, made appearances at the event, along with their Republican challengers, Stuyvesant Town resident Frank Scala and Long Island City resident Robert Ardini, respectively.
Scala, who’s the president of the Vincent Albano Republican Club, is also the owner of a barber shop on Fifth Avenue. Ardini is a former marketing executive who is currently focusing full-time on the race.
When it was his turn at the podium, Ardini brought up the nearly quarter-century long stronghold Maloney has in the district.
“It doesn’t seem like intention of founders for politicians to serve indefinitely,” he said, arguing that there should be term limits. “Congresswoman Maloney, you are a national treasure but it’s time to give someone else a chance.”
Maloney, on the other hand, had a different perspective.
“We do have term limits in our country,” she said “They’re called elections. If you don’t like the job someone is doing, vote for someone else. I’m proud of my record and have ideas of more to do.”
Ardini noted that another issue he’s concerned with is the national debt and he said he felt that current politicians aren’t doing enough to address the issue but Maloney argued that Democrats have been able to deal with the deficit effectively.
“I’m concerned about national debt too but when Bill Clinton was president, we balanced the budget and had a surplus that was (later) spent on wars,” she said. “We were shedding 800,000 jobs a month but with hard work, we have grown our way out of that. Our economy, although not as good as we’d like, is leading the world even though we suffered that terrible financial crisis.”
While addressing a question about community policing, Assembly candidate Frank Scala said he felt stop and frisk was necessary, but only in specific circumstances.
“When the temperature outside is 95 and you see a guy with a big hood and glasses and he seems suspicious, that would be a case for stop and frisk,” he said. “If the guy is running that means something is wrong.”
Kavanagh, on the other hand, said that he thought the policy is unnecessary as well as unconstitutional, and that it didn’t have a noticeable impact in the reduction of crime throughout the city.
“The NYPD has been able to continue reduction of crime despite not using stop and frisk,” he said. “The policy made it difficult for police to work with communities and it doesn’t lead to good relationships.”
Scala, who is also president of the 13th Precinct Community Council, has had a close relationship with the NYPD and praised the work they do, specifically those at his local precinct.
“Police do a good job. Some police abuse the uniform but most of the time I believe they do a good job and should continue to do whatever they’re doing,” he said.
He added, however, that he felt local Democratic politicians have done less well by the community throughout the years.
“When Roy Goodman was our senator, Stuy Town and Peter Cooper were best places you could live but we’ve had nothing but problems since Democrats took over,” he said, then apologizing to his opponent for the slight.
While at the meeting, a Maloney supporter named Paige Judge shared that she is against term limits.
“You only learn about things in government by doing it,” she argued. “I wish you would forget about term limits. You’re going to lose a lot of good people that way.”