A debate that began cordially with a handshake hit more than a few sour notes as the candidates clashed on a variety of issues.
Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny, the Democrat who represents the 46th Assembly District, offered the handshake to his Republican opponent, Bob Capano, as the two kicked off the candidates’ forum organized by the Dyker Heights Civic Association (DHCA), and managed, despite Capano’s jabs, to keep a calm demeanor throughout.
“I might be new to politics, but I’m not new to the world,” noted the one-term assemblymember to the crowd gathered in St. Philip’s Parish Hall, 1072 80th Street, in response to one of Capano’s remarks. “If a person has nothing to say about his own record, he goes negative. I’m not going to go negative.”
Capano – who has pitched his candidacy around his ability to work in a bipartisan fashion, having represented both “Brooklyn’s top Democrat” (Borough President Marty Markowitz) and “New York City’s top Republican” (Representative Vito Fossella) — attacked Brook-Krasny’s record on a number of fronts, contending, for one thing, that he had “voted 93 times to increase taxes and fees on New Yorkers.”
In his assault on the tax front, Capano – who is also on the Conservative and Independence Party lines — cited one Assembly bill, 11497, that Brook-Krasny had supported and that had previously been approved by the Republican-controlled Senate.
“He voted to raise taxes on New York City residents,” Capano contended, asserting, “I would hold the line on taxes. In these tough economic times, the last thing people need is for government to take money from us.”
However, this bill did not raise taxes, as Capano said, but, rather, as explained on the Assembly website, “postpones expiration of certain tax rates and taxes in the city of New York.”
“Nobody likes to raise taxes,” Brook-Krasny remarked. What he had voted for, he said, were “home rule messages” from various localities looking for legislative approval of tax increases they said they needed.
In addition, Brook-Krasny said, he does support, “a new tax for millionaires,” that, he stressed, could make it possible to keep local programs intact that might otherwise fall under the budget axe, given the $8 billion deficit the state is facing.
“I am responsible to the 46th A.D. to get funding for schools, senior centers and community organizations, and I am going to do everything I can to fight for that funding,” he pledged.
Among the funding he has brought back to the district – which includes Brighton Beach, Coney Island, and portions of Dyker Heights and Bay Ridge – were $10 million to renovate the Boardwalk, and $825,000 for the William O’Connor School for autistic children, Brook-Krasny told his listeners.
In another arena, Capano attacked Brook-Krasny for voting, “To kill an amendment that would have reinstated capital punishment for cop-killers and terrorists. So, with me, you have a clear difference in philosophy,” he told his listeners.
Capano also accused Brook-Krasny of not going to bat actively for the community when other elected officials from both parties banded together to try to save Victory Memorial Hospital.
“It goes to the underlying issue of the community feeling it doesn’t get the representation it deserves in the state Assembly,” Capano contended. State Senator Marty Golden, Representative Vito Fossella and City Councilmember Vincent Gentile had “joined together,” he said, to battle the closure. “There’s no reason in the world why the assemblymember should not have joined the effort.”
He had, in fact, backed keeping Victory open, Brook-Krasny said, beginning even before he had taken office, and going against the expressed position of his predecessor in the post. But, he stressed, given the fact that the hospital was $100 million in debt, and embroiled in numerous lawsuits, he had learned that it was “virtually impossible to save the hospital,” which he pointed out had been ordered closed by the Berger Commission formed during the term of Republican Governor George Pataki.
As for Capano, Brook-Krasny noted, “Government can break you. Government can make you. Are you sure you are a Republican?”
“I am very proud of my record,” Brook-Krasny affirmed to the assembled group at one point. “It’s been an incredible journey,” he later added. “I’m doing what I really like, helping people. I always vote according to my heart. I always listen to the people in the district.” Nonetheless, he added, “I don’t think we’ll be able to agree on everything.”
That being said, Brook-Krasny assured the group, “I will never promise anything I wouldn’t be able to deliver.” And, he concluded by urging his constituents to “make my Bay Ridge office a very busy office. That’s the only way I can know what your needs are.”