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13th Congressional District

Steve Harrison (D) vs. Rep. Vito Fossella (R)

What are the main reasons voters should choose you?

Vito Fossella

1. Terrorism: Over the past two years, I have supported the Terrorist Surveillance Program, which stopped an al-Qaeda plot to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge. This program allows law enforcement to listen in on the telephone conversations and read the emails of suspected terrorists who are plotting new attacks against America. I have also supported the Patriot Act, which gives law enforcement the same tools to fight terrorism that they already have to go after organized crime. And I have voted to implement several of the recommendations of the 9-11 Commission, including breaking down the wall that prevented the FBI from sharing information with the CIA. 2. Social Security: Congress has a responsibility to ensure the long-term solvency of Social Security. That is why I support a Bipartisan Commission to develop a plan to guarantee Social Security remains stable and viable for decades to come. I oppose the president’s privatization plan and also progressive indexing. I also do not support a real reduction in benefits for today’s seniors and baby-boomers. 3. Local Issues: I am proud to have taken the lead to prevent the closure of Fort Hamilton and the Brooklyn VA Hospital. By planning ahead and working with a bipartisan coalition of residents, we were able to protect both institutions in the past year. In addition, I helped secure the agreement to make $16 million in repairs to the Shore Parkway bike path and walkway, which were in ruin. Lastly, I brought home nearly $7 million in federal funding to renovate the 86th Street subway station and an additional $100,000 for improvements to the 86th Street shopping corridor.

Steve Harrison

1. Voters deserve ethical and responsive leadership. I vow to represent all the people in this district, not just corporations. I have roots in both Brooklyn and Staten Island and will be a Congressman who crosses the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge often. I will be present in the community and listen to the concerns of all constituents. 2. I oppose the war in Iraq and call for the withdrawal of forces as soon as it is consistent with the safety of our troops. I believe that the Bush Administration has not articulated a rationale for the continuation of this war. The war has not made our country any safer and has hurt our international standing. I strongly support our troops and, unlike Vito Fossella, will fight for adequate funding for our troops and for veteran benefits. 3. The Bush/Fossella tax cuts have hurt the average American. I will push to repeal tax cuts for the rich and require corporations to assume their fair share of the tax burden. Congressman Fossella supported the Bush cuts and strongly supports his Republican Party’s borrow and spend philosophy that has put the Iraq war tab on the national credit card.

Offer two or more reasons why your opponent(s) are unqualified — or significantly less qualified — than you.

Fossella

I believe elections should focus on one’s qualifications for the job — not attacking the opponent. I’m proud of my record and do not feel the need to criticize my opponent to convince you I deserve your vote. I encourage you to take a look at my opponent’s response to this same question. Has he chosen to attack me or to ask for your vote based on his record?

Harrison

Vito Fossella does not represent the hardworking people of Brooklyn and Staten Island. The House Commission on Mailing Standards recently ruled that Representative Fossella must pay back at least $60,000 for misuse of taxpayer-funded congressional mailings. He has earned a 20-percent rating from the AFL-CIO and a 6-percent rating from the SEIU, two of the country’s largest labor federations, for his anti-working class votes. He is the only New York City member of Congress to oppose reasonable gun legislation, earning him a high rank from the National Rifle Association. These actions demonstrate that he does not vote in the best interest of the people of our district. Also, Vito Fossella has been a rubber stamp for the Bush Administration, voting with the administration almost 90 percent of the time. He has supported the privatization of Social Security, now claims he opposes it, but leaves room to again change his position. I oppose privatization of Social Security now and will oppose the privatization of Social Security when I am in office. Lastly, Vito Fossella is running a campaign of fallacies and distortions that is consistent with his record of misrepresenting facts. He lied about supporting an independent 9-11 commission, obtaining $5 million for the seawall, my position on taxes and his position on Social Security. This district deserves a congressman who will serve with integrity.

What are the three most-important issues facing your district today — and what is your plan to address them?

Fossella

Terrorism: I am proud to have helped secure $50 million for improvements to strengthen Fort Hamilton, and I will continue fighting for additional enhancements. Mass Transit: I am proud of my work to renovate the 86th Street subway station and expand mass transit for commuters. In the years ahead, we need to continue pushing the MTA to increase regular and express bus service as well as enhance train service. Overdevelopment: The push to replace large, older homes with multi-family dwellings has the potential to change the character and integrity of Bay Ridge. We need to continue working to strengthen zoning laws to ensure that future development enhances our community. We also need to continue working with new property owners to encourage them to keep the community’s best interest at heart.

Harrison

1. I support vigorous enforcement of all zoning rules … to prevent overdevelopment that is overcrowding our schools, congesting our highways and diminishing our standard of living. During my years on Community Board 10, I [helped] preserve our community’s character and standard of living. 2. The federal government ought to spend more money on building schools in order to reduce class sizes and implement education initiatives outlined in the No Child Left Behind Act. Too many schools are overcrowded, creating poor learning environments for children forced to compete for attention from their teachers. I am the endorsed candidate of the United Federation of Teachers and the New York State United Teachers. 3. I am serious about homeland and port security. One hundred percent of containers that enter U.S. ports must be scanned at their port of origin. The technology exists, and I will fight to ensure that this precaution is taken to keep our communities safe.

Is Brooklyn heading in the “right” direction or the “wrong” direction?

Fossella

I absolutely believe Brooklyn is heading in the right direction. I also believe Brooklyn’s best days are ahead of us. There are certainly challenges facing our community, but Americans are optimistic by nature and always ready to overcome any obstacle in our path.

Harrison

Brooklyn is heading in the right direction and is enjoying a renaissance. Our community boards remain enthusiastic and vigilant in addressing matters such as overdevelopment, finding sites of group homes, and traffic issues. As a community board chairman, I led the largest rezoning in Brooklyn’s history to thwart residential overdevelopment. As a community, we have taken innovative approaches to truck traffic and much of the input for the Gowanus Tunnel has come from our district’s committed residents. The response of local and state officials has been excellent. But the sole missing ingredient has been the appropriate involvement of Congressman Fossella. He has been conspicuously absent during the crucial period when we were trying to rezone. In terms of easing traffic, he has provided a mere $6 million for the renovation of the 86th Street subway station, while providing over $1 billion for Staten Island improvements. Compared to Staten Island, Fossella has provided Brooklyn with less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the funding required for transportation needs and improvements. Vito Fossella has shortchanged his constituents.

Bonus round: What is the one TV show you would TiVo so you never miss it?

Fossella

Candidate did not answer

Harrison

I never TiVO anything since I prefer to live in real time. If I were to TiVO anything, it would be “Nightline.”

46th Assembly District

Alec Brook-Krasny (D) vs. Patricia Laudano (R)

What are the main reasons voters should choose you?

Alec Brook-Krasny

1. I have spent close to two decades working with neighbors, labor leaders, local activists and elected officials to help solve the problems affecting our community. And I have gotten results. 2. I have managed 43 community-based organizations that provide vital assistance to countless Brooklyn families. As a member of Community Board 13, I have worked tirelessly to solve neighborhood problems. There is no issue — including crime, housing, parks, senior services, traffic — that I have not been involved in. As a successful local businessman, I have brought economic opportunity and dozens of jobs to the district. 3. I will be a strong voice for affordable housing, expanded health care and improved schools.

Patricia Laudano

1. I run for office as a non-politician with no plans to make a career of the position and therefore to never become a part of the self-serving establishment.

2. I will display the courage to vote “no” to special interests. Only then can we being to truly balance the budget without gimmicks. 3. I support spending controls, so I can honestly advocate for tax cuts in a state that imposes the highest combination of taxes in the country on its citizens.

Offer two or more reasons why your opponent is unqualified — or significantly less qualified — than you

Brook-Krasny

I have no interest in participating in the in the mudslinging that all too often dominates politics — all it does is turn voters off.

Laudano

My opponent doesn’t have the many years of experience I have in local community activities. And his election will add to the imbalance that currently prevails in the Assembly. Bipartisanship requires a minority party with sufficient numbers to play an effective role in the pursuit of good government.

What are the three most-important issues facing your district — and what is your plan to address them?

Brook-Krasny

1. Affordable housing. I will work tirelessly to ensure public monies are earmarked for the creation and preservation of affordable housing. Roughly 500,000 families spend over half their income on rent. That’s unacceptable. And many longtime residents are being priced out of the very homes they have lived in for generations. We need a serious financial commitment from the state government to solve the housing crisis, and that begins with affordable housing. The state, quite frankly, needs to hold developers accountable. If a project receives tax breaks, we need to make sure that the developers are following through on their pledges [to build affordable housing].

2. Education: I will make sure that kids have access to a sound public education by taking on the Republicans in Albany and getting local schools their fair share of education funding. We need smaller classrooms, experienced teachers and modern facilities.

3. The United States is the only industrialized economy in the free world that does not provide some form of universal health care, and that is flat out wrong. Forty million Americans go without health insurance — a disgrace — and I will work to make prescription drugs more affordable through bulk purchasing programs.

Laudano

1. Neighborhood preservation. Overdevelopment must be controlled through new and enforced zoning laws. More police coverage is an important part of preserving the viability of neighborhoods.

2. Assistance for local schools. Smaller class sizes are needed as is greater discipline and higher standards. More money may be required, but organizational and administrative changes are more needed. 3. Economic growth in the city as a whole can assist our local community to flourish all the more — and that can occur via city and state tax policies designed to stimulate economic growth.

Is Brooklyn heading in the “right” direction or the “wrong” direction?

Brook-Krasny

I think Brooklyn is heading in the right direction. Our streets are cleaner and safer. Our local economy is getting stronger. But many longtime residents are being priced out their homes. Progress is great, and it’s terrific that properties in our borough are becoming more valuable. But we can’t leave people behind.

Laudano

Heading in the right direction. I favor growth and sensible development, which is controlled and carefully done.

Bonus question: What show do you TiVo so you’ll never miss it?

Brook-Krasny

Candidate did not answer.

Laudano

“Face the Nation” and “The McLaughlin Group.”

60th Assembly District

Janele Hyer-Spencer (D) vs. Anthony Xanthakis (R)

What are the main reasons voters should choose you?

Anthony Xanthakis

1. As counsel to [retiring] Assemblyman Matthew Mirones I have already been working on all of the major issues of concern to the people of Bay Ridge. 2. Having come from Bay Ridge and now living in Staten Island, I understand the concerns of both sides of the district. 3. I am an independent voice and not supported by special interests.

Janele Hyer-Spencer

1. I believe we can and must do better for the people of this district. I bring qualified, dedicated, and committed leadership. As a public-interest attorney, I have served Staten Island and Brooklyn by protecting our families affected by violence to helping community-based organizations secure not-for-profit status. I will use my experience as a prosecuting attorney specializing in child sex abuse to ensure we that we keep our communities safe from violent sexual predators by locking them in jail, period. 2. I will work hard to preserve our health-care system. When he was diagnosed with cancer and lost the family business, he lost his health insurance, so I know all too well that health care coverage is a necessity, not a luxury. I will fight for provisions that ensure HMOs put people before profits, expand access to affordable prescription drugs, work to clean up the mess created by the Medicare Part D fiasco and ensure we have access to treatment before problems escalate. 3. I will fight for our fair share of funding to ensure our schools have the best teachers, up-to-date technology, pre-K for every child, smaller classes and safer classrooms so students can learn without the threat of harm or distraction. We need to do more than just provide an adequate education, but for a meaningful education and keep making those resources available through college.

Offer two or more reasons why your opponent is unqualified — or significantly less qualified — than you

Xanthakis

1. My opponent is beholden to special interests and will only serve their needs, particularly the demands of the Assembly Majority. 2. My opponent has already abandoned the residents of Bay Ridge by quitting her position with Councilman [Vince] Gentile after six months, a job she only took in the first place to raise her profile and build her resume.

Hyer-Spencer

1. My approach during this campaign is to tell you what I stand for, my experience, what I believe in, what I’ll fight for and I thank you for listening. I will leave it up to the voters to decide who has the best qualifications.

What are the three most-important issues facing your district — and what is your plan to address them?

Xanthakis

1. Civil confinement of sexually violent predators after completion of their prison sentences. 2. Strengthen our public schools by bringing the additional funds mandated by the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit, and continue requiring accountability by our school system. 3. Preserve the character of Bay Ridge by encouraging good building practices with tax credits and establishing sensible and immediate parking improvements.

Hyer-Spencer

1. Parking. With limited space, we must devise creative and innovative ways to alleviate parking woes, yet allow for economic development while maintaining our quality of life. I would set up a parking task force comprised of residents, business owners, community leaders, and school personnel who regularly deal with the parking issues around school pick up and drop off times. Education and health care remain top issues that must be addressed with the solutions I suggested above.

Is Brooklyn heading in the “right” direction or the “wrong” direction?

Xanthakis

Brooklyn is heading in the right direction. Bay Ridge is a desired community to live in. The community has always taken care of itself, and programs such as the Naturally Occurring Retirement Community add to that care.

Hyer-Spencer

Brooklyn is moving the right direction. Case in point, the Bay Ridge downzoning was one of the most aggressive and effective downzoning plans in the city. Because of the effort, Bay Ridge has managed to protect its unique quality of life and it has served as a template for others. While there is more to do in the area of parking, Gowanus Expressway construction, and the rising costs pricing many seniors of the community, Bay Ridge is generally a model to follow.

Bonus round: What TV show do you TiVO so you are sure to never miss it?

Xanthakis

I try to never miss a New York baseball game. (Candidate did not specify his favorite team.)

Hyer-Spencer

Grey’s Anatomy.

44th Assembly District

Jim Brennan (D) vs. Yvette Velazquez-Bennett (R)

The 44th Assembly District covers most of Park Slope, Windsor Terrace and Kensington. The incumbent, Jim Brennan, has represented the district for more than 20 years. Both he and his Republican opponent, Yvette Velazquez-Bennett, responded to our candidate questionnaire.

What are the three main reasons voters should choose you?

Jim Brennan

Voters get vigorous, high-quality service from myself and my office. My office helps thousands of residents each year with both individual and neighborhood concerns. My office sponsors conferences and events every year, including a job fair in 2006, a volunteer fair in 2005 and a health fair in 2004. My office has provided the vigorous political leadership that has resulted in downzoning in Community Boards 6, 7 and 14, throughout Park Slope, Windsor Terrace and Flatbush. My office has been intervening on a regular basis to protect residents from predatory developers and landlords in relation to controlling unsafe construction practices, maintaining habitable conditions, etc. I chair the Assembly Standing Committee on Cities and initiated a new, $300-million Urban Revitalization Fund in the legislative session this year.

Yvette Velazquez-Bennett

1. I am in favor of educational choice, including greater educational tax credits, an increase in the number of charter schools and school vouchers that do not restrict the religious practices of non-secular schools. 2. I am committed to enact legislation allowing civil confinement of violent sexual predators predisposed to molest, rape or kill again. 3. I have conservative values. I am pro-life (I have been endorsed by the NYS Right to Life Committee) and want to maintain the traditional definition of marriage.

Offer two or more reasons why your opponent(s) are unqualified — or significantly less qualified — than you.

Brennan

I have nothing negative to say about my opponent.

Velazquez-Bennett

1. My opponent is opposed to school choice. I am not only a proponent and advocate, but have chosen the path of home-schooling my children. 2. Our social values are vastly opposite. He is a socially liberal. I am not. I am endorsed by the New York State Right to Life Committee. The values of the constituents of this district would be best represented by my values.

What are the three most important issues facing your district — and what are you going to do about them?

Brennan

There is an overwhelming lack of affordable housing, most acutely for the low-income elderly and disabled. The national, state, and city governments need to create new subsidies and vouchers, and build additional subsidized housing. The unavailability of health insurance, in combination with major bureaucratic obstacles to enrollment in existing health insurance programs, traps thousands into not seeking access to care. State and city governments need to streamline health insurance programs, as well as expand eligibility to assure basic access to health care. Overcrowding in the public schools, in combination with lack of funding for after-school, evening, and weekend youth service, limits opportunities for young people. The legislature needs to fund the public school system to comply with the Campaign for Fiscal Equity case. Overdevelopment threatens the quality of life, from Atlantic Yards to everyday neighborhoods across the city. The leadership needs to support zoning compliance and permit added density in a well-controlled and more balanced manner. The city is growing in population and there is an acute lack of affordable housing. As a result, some additional density is required, but this can be done without harming the existing quality of life if well

Velazquez-Bennett

1. Although I am in favor of development that would provide jobs and affordable housing, developers and the community need to come to agreement to keep future development in character with the neighborhood. I am also in favor of a constitutional amendment to prohibit eminent domain for economic development and limit it to true public purposes. 2. Business taxes, real-estate taxes and personal income taxes are inhibiting potential investment in our community by our community. Too many of our youth are forced to move out because they can’t get job that allow them to afford to live here. Businesses have deserted our neighborhoods in droves because of high taxes and unfriendly attitude toward industry and local businesses. We need lower taxes. 3. Child and sexual predators must be dealt with. I am committed to enacting legislation that would allow the civil confinement of violent sexual predators predisposed to molest, rape or kill again.

Is Brooklyn heading in the “right” direction or the “wrong” direction?

Brennan

Candidate did not answer.

Velazquez-Bennett

I have lived in Windsor Terrace for 30 years. The strong economy means our neighborhood is no longer redlined (right direction), but with it has come a change of character that many well-rooted families are having difficulty dealing with (wrong direction). Some may call it Manhattanization, but it relates to what I stated earlier. If the taxes are too high, our young people and businesses leave. Reducing taxes and eliminating wasteful spending in Albany will help thwart this trend.

Bonus round: What TV show do you TiVO so you are sure to never miss it?

Brennan

Candidate did not answer

Velazquez-Bennett

My family does not have TiVO or cable. We occasionally use a VCR to record science fiction. I would rather visit the theater of the mind via reading or radio. We subscribe to Netflix and watch classic old movies and old sitcoms when it fits our schedule.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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