Democratic borough president hopefuls debate

A crowded field of Democratic candidates are vying to replace Eric Adams as borough president of Brooklyn.
On May 18, six candidates – Robert Cornegy, Kim Council, Khari Edwards, Mathieu Eugene, Antonio Reynoso, and Jo Anne Simon – exchanged jabs and discussed policy during a televised debate.
Topics included affordable housing, the city’s economy in the wake of COVID-19, and the controversial Industry City rezoning.
Polls currently place current councilmen Cornegy and Reynoso at the front of the pack. The two sparred during the debate, with Cornegy questioning Reynoso over his lack of support for the doomed Industry City rezoning in Sunset Park.
“Months later, there has been no alternative plan for job creation in that area, no alternative for putting people on a pathway to any opportunity in that area,” Cornegy said. “I’m curious as to how you count that as a win when nothing else has been created?”
Reynoso defended his stance on the issue, citing the opposition leveraged against the rezoning by Sunset Park’s current councilman Carlos Menchaca and the local community board.
“The community board voted against the Sunset Park rezoning, every single elected official that represents that district voted against it, and I think that given their experience and their time in their community they know what’s best,” Reynoso explained.
Reynoso went on to emphasize the importance of listening to community feedback on all land-use issues.
Edwards, who serves as Brookdale Hospital vice president and coordinator of the East Brooklyn Call to Action Campaign, used his speaking time to address the high rate of displacement and gentrification in the borough.
He particularly criticized Cornegy for allowing so much development in his district, which includes Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights.
Council, a community activist and legal librarian, cited her experience bringing affordable housing and health clinics to Bedford-Stuyvesant. During the debate she suggested the creation of a mobile Borough Hall that would “flip the switch on top-down governance.”
Eugene, who represents Flatbush in the City Council, focused primarily on the issues of education and gun violence, calling for action to address the recent spike in violent crimes.
Simon, who currently serves in the state Assembly, also focused on gun safety. She called for the creation of new red-flag laws and cooperation with state and federal governments.

Debate in person

Dear Editor,
The June 22nd primary election for mayor is one of the most consequential of our lives. It is vital that voters be able to hear directly from those who want to lead New York City’s post-pandemic recovery.
Voters have the right to see how candidates engage with one another in a meaningful way, how they think on their feet, interact with and treat their peers, and observe their body language.
New York City and State are on the path to reopening as infection rates continue to fall and vaccinations increase, so it makes no sense for the next Democratic mayoral debate to be held virtually.
If New Yorkers can now socialize and dine in indoor settings, remove masks according to federal health guidelines, and adhere to other health and safety recommendations, then organizers of the next debate are shirking their responsibility to provide a format that benefits the public.
We can have the debate at a location that allows for adequate social distancing and enforces other necessary precautions, such as requiring proof of vaccinations and limiting attendance.
This will ensure that New Yorkers get the lively, interactive, and in-person debate they need to make informed decisions on who to vote for when they cast their ballots this season.
The public deserves nothing less.
Alfonso Quiroz
Jackson Heights

Debate over Open Street program intensifies in Greenpoint

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused cultural conflicts both nationally and locally. Maskers vs. Anti-maskers, vaccines and anti-vaxxers, open streets and…closed streets?
Throughout the past year, a strange and intense animosity has been growing in Greenpoint regarding whether or not certain city streets should be shut down to allow for more COVID-conscious outdoor pedestrian space.
The tension began last May when Mayor bill de Blasio announced the NYC Open Streets initiative, which placed barricades to stop car traffic on hundreds of miles of streets in the city, including several Greenpoint thoroughfares.
Initially, the NYPD was in charge of the initiative, placing the barricades every morning at 8 a.m. and removing them at 8 p.m. each night. After various complaints that the officers were neglectful of their duties, community organizations volunteered to take charge of the open streets program.
Most notably, the North Brooklyn Open Streets Community Coalition stepped in to manage the situation. With the support of councilmen Antonio Reynoso and Stephen Levin, the volunteer group successfully maintained and facilitated open streets on portions of Berry, Nassau, Russell, and Driggs streets since last year.
However, the open streets program has faced significant pushback since its inception. Last November, a petition titled “Stop Open Streets from becoming a permanent fixture in Greenpoint” gained 962 signatures on
“Many members of the community feel they were misled on the original plan, and were unaware that they were signing to completely remove the streets of Greenpoint and turn them into pedestrian-only walkways,” the petition read. “This petition is on behalf of my neighbors and car owners of Greenpoint, our voices are being silenced and we are getting increasingly worried and upset that we are not being represented in the plans for Open Streets.”
Last month, the situation reached an unprecedented fever pitch. A man in a “counterfeit” Amazon delivery truck stole 16 of Greenpoint’s open street barricades overnight, then proceeded to throw the barricades into Newtown Creek.
Members of the community organization North Brooklyn Mutual Aid searched for the missing barricades. Five were found washed up on the shoreline at the end of Apollo Street. Two were fished out of the creek by volunteers in a rowboat. The other nine were lost completely.
While less dramatic, the open street drama continues up to this week. Greenpoint local Logan Reeves recently published an op-ed calling for changes to make the open streets program more focused in its intent.
“Residents have asked multiple times to see the data that was collected in order to figure out what streets to close, and the North Brooklyn Open Streets Coalition declines to share the information,” he wrote. “Do better NYC.”
Despite the pushback, the mayor has expressed his intention to maintain the program. Many of the major Democratic candidates for mayor, including Eric Adams, Kathryn Garcia, Ray McGuire, Diane Morales, Scott Stringer, Maya Wiley, and Andrew Yang, have also pledged to upkeep the open streets initiative.

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