Congressional Republican candidate Bob Turner and Democratic candidate Assemblyman David Weprin were joined at the forum by the 23rd Assembly candidate Republican District Leader Jane Deacy of Breezy Point. Democratic Assembly candidate Phillip Goldfeder could not attend the forum due to a scheduling conflict.
Turner, 70, a retired businessman, is looking to fill the seat of former Representative Anthony Weiner. Turner lost to Weiner in the 2010 general election, but garnered 40 percent of the vote in his defeat in a strongly Democratic district.
Turner told the audience that he is appalled that for every dollar the federal government spends, 40 cents of it is borrowed.
“How long can you sustain it?” he asked. “We need some practical sense in Washington.”
He said under the current system we may never get out of the deficit. He advocates growing the economy by cutting taxes on businesses, reducing regulations, and opening the ability for banks to lend money. “Those are the positive things that you do,” he said. “You can be part of the solution, which is the type of programs that I am offering, or part of the problem, which is continuing the current practices of this administration. That choice is yours.”
Weprin, who also served two terms in the City Council and was chair of the Finance Committee, detailed his diverse private and public background. Weprin, an attorney, served in Governor Mario Cuomo’s administration as the state Deputy Superintendent of Banking and worked in investment banking for 20 years.
Weprin said that with his strong financial background he could contribute to the country during a very tough economic time. He said with the high unemployment and no federal jobs bill since the Republicans took over the House of Representatives, that, if elected, he would make it a major priority to try to bring jobs to local communities.
Weprin said that while he agrees that federal spending has to be brought under control, it should not be at the expense of Social Security, Medicaid, and senior services.
“My priority will be protecting seniors, protecting children and protecting the disabled,” said Weprin.
In the question-and-answer portion of the program, B.K. Brumberg of Howard Beach asked the candidates what their thoughts were on the House Republicans' position that the proposed federal budget contain no new taxes, even taxes on wealthy Americans making millions of dollars.
Turner said that history has shown that imposing or raising taxes would cripple business growth and development. “We need, if anything, tax relief,” said Turner.
Weprin disagreed, stating that $2 trillion in potential state revenue could be raised by taxing corporate jets and corporate yachts. Weprin said that he also supported extending the state’s “millionaires tax” which is set to expire on December 31 for another year or two, which he said would bring into the state’s coffers close to $4 billion.
Regarding a resident’s question about proposed congressional cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits and increases to premiums, Turner said that Medicare is an entitlement benefit to the seniors and “it would be an absolute outrage to change the rules now.”
“I would like to see no cuts at all to social security and Medicare,” said Weprin.
The winner of the general election in November would take office immediately and serve out the balance of Weiner’s term.
Deacy, 58, is a retired NYPD officer and community activist, and has worked in special education at St. Camillus School. She is married to a former police detective and has three daughters and two grandchildren. She is running for the Assembly seat formerly held by Queens County Clerk Audrey Pheffer.
Deacy advocates eliminating the tolls on the Crossbay Bridge to Rockaway. She said that although bills have been introduced in the legislature, they have remained stalled there year after year. She promised action on these bills.
Deacy said she would bring back to the community its fair share of budget dollars from Albany.
Her opponent is currently director of intergovernmental affairs for Senator Charles Schumer. Goldfeder previously worked as the Queens director of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Community Assistance Unit.