While not exactly Lincoln-Douglass, the recent debate between Democrat incumbent City Councilmember Vincent (The Little Giant) Gentile and Republican Bob (The Grocer) Capano provided entertaining theater and ripe political discourse.
The two met up on the verbal battleground before the Dyker Heights Civic Association just weeks before voters decide which of the two will represent them in the council’s 43rd District covering Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst.
In his opening remarks, Capano portrayed himself as a working-class guy from the neighborhood who still works part time as a supermarket manager, but who also holds a master’s degree in Urban Policy and has hands-on political experience, formerly working for Borough President Marty Markowitz and former Rep. Vito Fossella.
Capano characterized Gentile as a spender of taxpayer money who is strongly associated with the Working Families Party scandal.
“If elected, I’ll be stepping up and protecting the interests of the ordinary, hard-working middle-class,” he said, adding he also has Mayor Bloomberg’s endorsement.
Gentile’s opening remarks centered around his accomplishments in the Council over the last four years.
Among these is standing up against both the speaker and the mayor when they wanted to impose a congestion pricing plan, voting against term limits and property tax hikes and ensuring the $400 property tax rebate checks were released, he said.
Additionally, Gentile said he helped restore all funds back to the community board, fought to keep firehouses open and eliminated the ‘Pay to Pray” parking tickets on Sunday.
After their opening remarks, residents in the audience questioned the candidates’ view of recent Department of Transportation measures to mitigate traffic so that it would be safer for children at P.S. 127 at 7805 7th Avenue.
Gentile said he opposed the DOT pilot program because it backs up traffic going into both the Gowanus Expressway and Fort Hamilton Parkway.
That’s why he introduced legislation where the DOT and other agencies have to come to local community boards to lay out their plans before they are implemented, he said.
Capano responded that the problem is that Gentile doesn’t have a working relationship with Bloomberg, which results in no town hall meetings to discuss local issues with city agencies.
Gentile replied he gets along and agrees with the mayor on some issues, but feels he must be an independent voice when his policies hurt the constituents in the district.
In his closing remarks, Gentile said he represents results over promises. He also noted that if elected, Capano will be only one of three Republicans in the Council and a freshman lawmaker at that, while he will assume a senior position in the Council.
“Bob is a nice guy, but I bring results,” he said.
Capano said that Gentile was trying to scare voters with his “go along” attitude. He said that such an attitude resulted in the Council slush fun and Working Families Party scandals. He noted that when State Sen. Marty Golden was in the City Council he was able to bring both money and services back to the district.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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