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Race To Represent 2018: State Assembly District 74 Special Election Debate

Race To Represent 2018: State Assembly District 74 Special Election Debate

Manhattan Neighborhood Network in partnership with The League of Women Voters of New York
and Gotham Gazette are pleased to welcome you to a debate among candidates running to
fill the seat in the New York State Assembly District 74. I’m Ben Max, Executive Editor of Gotham
Gazette. District 74 in the Assembly is on the East
Side of Manhattan, and stretches from East Houston Street through the East Village including
Stuyvesant Town to just north of the United Nations. The Assembly seat has been vacant since December
when Brian Kavanaugh resigned and was sworn in as a State Senator. The special election is open to all who are
registered to vote and live in district 74. There is no primary. There are four candidates here with us, starting
from my left we have the Republican candidate, Bryan Cooper, the Democrat and Working Families
candidate Harvey Epstein, the Green Party candidate Adrienne Craig-Williams, and the
Reform Party candidate Juan Pagan. Each candidate will answer several rounds
of questions with one minute responses and 30 second rebuttals. Each candidate will also have time at the
end for a one minute closing statement. So thank you all for being here. Mr. Pagan we’re going to start with you. The same question will go around to everybody. Mr. Pagan how would you describe for those
who may not know it particularly well, what is the job of a State Assembly member? How do you describe what the responsibilities
are? Go ahead. The primary responsibility is to understand the people in his district, to have a connection
with the people, to have endured what the people in his district have been going through. That’s the first element. Without that, to legislate laws or to repeal
laws or to amend laws, those three elements now are important, but if you don’t know
the people, if you don’t know what’s going on in your district to write new laws, as
I said to repeal ones that are not working or are actually hurting the people, or to
amend laws to make them work better you have to have a true understanding of what’s going
on in your community, in your district. And the fact that I lived there for 62 years
which is my age, been there all my life, it’s ingrained in me. So the important element of being a state
legislator, to legislate laws, to actually work for the people, um to legislate laws
that reflect what the people are crying out about. And so that is my brief explanation of what
a lawmaker should be in the state. Thank you. Mr. Cooper, how would you describe the job
of an Assembly member? Well, hands on experience I learned from Bryan Kavanaugh and via Steve Sanders. And you’re an ambassador. That’s what you are. You are an ambassador representing your district. You go up to Albany representing the people. How they went about which is how I’m going
to go about it is by going to community board meetings, police council meetings, and also
tenant association meetings. Just knowing, learning what’s going on. I mean you got people that are rambunctious
but that’s fine. Write it down. Hey I got you. I’m going to go up to Albany. That’s what you are. You represent that district of who you are
and what you learn and that’s it. That is all. Mr. Epstein, how do you define the role of an Assembly member? So I define it in a couple of ways. One is explain what we do in Albany. I talk to people about the House of Representatives. One’s part of Congress and the Senate, where
in Albany the Assembly is the House of Representative for Congress and the Senate is the Senate. So people don’t understand there’s two
bodies in Albany as well and we pass laws that the Governor can sign and veto. A more critical piece of what a state representative
is is to be a community organizer, to understand the needs of the community, to build leaders
in our neighborhood, to make a difference in the lives of New Yorkers. Thank you. Ms. Craig-Williams? So everyone else has said pretty good things. I love the word ambassador. The assembly member represents the community
in Albany and representatives Albany in the community. Writes laws and works to serve the people
and to be accountable to the people. Okay. We’re going to actually start right back
with you Ms. Craig-Williams on the second question and then we’ll come around and
we’ll give everybody a chance to start and end in the middle as we go here throughout
the debate. The second part of the opening question really
is how are you then qualified to fill that role? What makes you the right choice to fill this
seat? So I’m the right choice because I am not a part of the regular political parties. I’m a Green Party candidate which means
I’m not answerable to machine party or machine politics or big corporations or any kind of
track that a party might want to put me on. So I can be actually responsive to the people
and listen to them without any kind of agenda that’s coming from above me. Just to follow up a little bit on that. When you identify yourself as a member of
the Green Party just generally speaking what do you want people to know what that means? I mean there are a lot of people obviously
who have a sense of the Green Party probably often associated with environmentalism. But how do you describe it? What do you want in brief people to know what
that means? So the Green Party its pro-environmentalism which would be green economy. So jobs based on restoring infrastructure
to be climate change resilient. It doesn’t take money from corporations. And it’s grassroots which is actually hard
to understand if you’re not part of it. So all the instructions as it were for a party
representative would come from below, from the people in the district. Thank you. Mr. Pagan how do you see yourself qualified
for this position of Assembly Member other than your 62 years in the district as you
mentioned? Well Adrienne kind of hit an element of it. I’m not beholden to anyone and the fact
that there’s two Democrats here it’s really a faceoff between the Democrats here because
the prevailing party in our district over 68,000 registered Democrats. The point I want to make with that, why I’m
more qualified than this guy here, because 17 members of a committee put him in this
chair. The Reform Party put me here in this seat. Mind you I’m a Democrat. Democrat all my life. The reason for that is because the people
deserve a choice. As I said the prevailing party in our district
are Democrats so it was really a scheme. I want to make my point why I’m the better
qualified candidate. The scheme of the political machine’s scheme
the party leader’s choosing by way of committee county votes. For example, we’re trying to fill Brian
Kavanagh’s seat. He abandoned his post to go to take the Senate
seat. Brian Kavanagh was voted by 17 members of
a committee versus over 68,000 registered Democrats who live in our district. So what does the county committee do now? They elect this guy here. To get him on this panel here. So what’s happening here the machine robbed,
they’ve done it before, the machine has robbed for the opportunity for the people
of our district to vote in a primary election. I’m going to stop you there Mr. Pagan. You’re referring to some of the processes
around special elections and that actually was a question coming up so we’re going
to come back to that, but that is your time. So I’m going to move to Mr. Cooper here. What makes you qualified? And Mr. Epstein I know that he was talking
directly about you, but we’re about to get to you so we’ll come back to you in a moment. Mr. Cooper what makes you qualified? I represent the Republican party. I’m proud of being a Republican and I love
being a Republican. I’ve been a Republican district leader now
for 14 years. I’m also a member of the police community
council. I also just graduated from the Emergency Response
Team, which is a certain officer of merging management. So I’m very well aware of every single part
of that district as far as the citizens, Peter Cooper, Stuytown, Lower East Side, Murray
Hill, Tutor City, everything. But I’m also a man that I’m a moderate. I like working with people on the bipartisan
way. Even though we have a limited number of Republicans
in our district, hey independents, Democrats, whatever because we are all a part of the
district. My campaign is real simple. It’s our district. I want to represent you and I want to represent
the people regardless of what your party affiliation is. We all have issues that we all know and love
about. We all care about the same things. We want to solve the problems and that’s
it. 9:56
You’ll be on the Republican party lines so what do you say to the many Democrats in
the district in terms of why they should vote for you as a Republican? Won’t you bring more of a Republican lens,
even if it’s as you say a moderate lens, to the job as an Assembly member? What would you say to those Democrats? Excellent question because I know that the political climate right now is very you know
raw. But it’s real simple I said listen okay? Even though I am part of the Republican party
but I can bring to the table about you know an alternative to what the Democrats are doing. Especially in Albany right now. Especially with Governor Cuomo right now. The thing is Donald Trump is not on the ticket. Andrew Cuomo is. And that is it. We’ll come back in a little bit more to what that might mean on specific issues and
maybe more about Governor Cuomo since he will be at least in September and November on the
ballot, but he’s not on the ballot in April when this election is happening. Mr. Epstein, first you can respond to Mr.
Pagan if you wish, but also please what makes you qualified to fill the job as Assembly
member? Thank you for the question. Really why I think I’m qualified to be the
Assembly member is what I’ve done in our community and around our city to represent
the lives of New Yorkers. I’ve worked on dozens of pieces of legislation. I’ve worked with community organizers all
around the city to think about what we need to do to improve the lives of regular New
Yorkers. I’ve been a legal services lawyer for over
25 years, represented thousands of New Yorkers. I’ve heard their stories. I’ve heard their struggles, and I’ve heard
how Albany is creating such dysfunction in their lives that they can’t improve it. They can’t move forward in a way that they
need to do. What we we need to do is send someone to Albany
who has the experience and the qualifications to make a difference for our community and
our city and our state. I’ve done it. I’ll continue to do it. I did it when I sat on the rent guidelines
board and got a rent freeze, the first one in the 47 year history of the rent guidelines. I did it when I got legislation passed to
stop harassment in New York City. I did it when I went to Peter Cooper Village
and Stuyvesant Town to talk about tenant harassment and started legal clinics and housing clinics
to protect those tenants from eviction and displacement, and I’ll do it when I go to
Albany to represent this community in the Assembly. Let me follow up a little bit on what Mr. Pagan was talking about in terms of the process
for getting nominated. You obviously in special elections parties
nominate their choice to be on the ballot. There are no primaries. It’s not nonpartisan. You just get on the ballot and that’s who
voters can vote for. So you were selected by party members, party
insiders, to be on the ballot. Why was that and would you be you know you
are in the Democratic majority in the Assembly is it going to be that you would sort of toe
the party line? That’s some of the concerns people have
sometimes around these special election choices. So really good question about the special election process. What I said during all parts of the campaign
and I’ll continue to say is what we need to do is change how special elections happen
in New York State. New York City has an open elections process
for special elections and we need to do that for Albany elections as well. I’ve said it from the beginning of this
campaign and I’ll continue to say it. We need to go to Albany, change our laws,
because it is a smoke room filled process. Yes there were 200 people who were all Democrats
who unanimously put me forward as the candidate. Also I’m working on the Working Families
party line. I’m honored to take those lines but I also
know that it is our obligation to change that system. Just because the laws exist not doesn’t
mean that’s the laws that will exist in the future. I think it’s our job to see these problems
and change them like we need to change early voting in New York. It’s a problem. We need to change it. There are lots of things we need to change
in Albany and I believe my skills and qualifications will allow me to be able to do that. And just lastly on that would you- why was it that you were so supported by the Democrats
in Manhattan who were making this selection? What is it – how did you get sort of tied
to the party? What is it about you know how did you build
those relationships? Well good question about how I got connected to people in the district. I’ve lived in the district for 20 years,
raised my children in the district, been a parent leader in the district, been a community
board chair in the district. I’ve been deeply involved in our neighborhood,
deeply committed to the work that is going on in our community. I’ve worked with all the local elected officials
as well in my job running a legal services office and in my community hat. So people knew me, knew what I’ve done,
knew my qualifications, and they believed in the believed in the vision I had to support
our community and talk about community organizing, talk about leadership development, talk about
the change in the culture of Albany, and they all supported me going forward. Thank you. We’re going to start with you this time,
Mr. Cooper. Let’s talk more about the district. What are some of the major issues facing the
district? Let’s try to limit it maybe to your top
three let’s say. What are three big issues facing the 74th
Assembly district as some have said and I said in the introduction covers much of some
of the East side of Manhattan. Mr. Cooper, key issues facing the district? Number one problem right now especially in my neighborhood in Alphabet City is NYCHA
housing. My main concern right now is seniors and disability
of handicapped because there are no handicap accessibility ramps in none of my buildings. All the way to East Houston all the way to
14th Street down. Then now the unemployment situation which
is youth unemployment. Work Force 1 and Henry Street Settlement are
on the cusp right now of doing job training programs for youth for after school programs. The problem is right now is we trying to get
the word out to the kids right now about what’s going on and that’s I’ve been doing that
just for the past couple of months trying to get the word out as far as because we don’t
want our kids out in the streets. Especially now in the summertime because it’s
about to get warm out now. We want them to be constructive and a lot
of other things. And also the rents, okay? Now.. We’re going to come back on solutions so I think you gave us three and that’s about
time so we’ll move on to Mr. Epstein. Two or three issues that I think is going on in the district is affordable housing not
just public housing but all housing, rent stabilized housing, mitchell lama housing. Second is the MTA, the problems with the L
train closing down, the lack of accessible stations when they reopen, the issues of public
transit – buses and subways – and how poorly they’re being operated. And third is public education. Really pushing better public education, funding
public education, supporting public education, elementary middle school high school and college. Thank you. Ms. Craig-Williams? I agree with my fellas up here and also climate change is a big issue within our community. I think we need long term solutions and we
need to talk about that because most of our district is in a flood zone. We are going to have more big storms. Hurricane season is supposed to be worse than
last years. We need actual climate change resilience plans
and also housing and education are my top three. Mr. Pagan, issues facing the district? There are so many issues and it’s hard to prioritize them. I’ll put the first three. To a parent that has children going to school
their number one priority is public education but let me start with the three I have. Number one is affordable housing. I want to target specifically NYCHA because
NYCHA residents are the ones suffering the most right now. Not to neglect Mitchell Lama or section 8
or the problems that might come up in 2020 with Stuytown and Peter Cooper Village, but
NYCHA has been enduring problems for so many years. It’s deliberate. NYCHA has been deliberately neglecting the
upkeep and the maintenance of our buildings because they have a plan. They want to eventually use that as an excuse
– the deterioration of NYCHA – they want to use that as an excuse to then turn it over
to private developers. It’s really a scheme. Sorry. Who’s the they? Who has the scheme there? NYCHA. NYCHA is the one with the scheme. It’s called next gen. So the NYCHA leadership? Yeah the NYCHA leadership. Yes yes. Of course that includes um I would include
also Nina Velasquez – our representative congress woman – who deals with HUD on the issues that
has affected NYCHA especially in our neighborhood. So affordability in NYCHA because what’s
happening is it’s the poor and the ones on fixed incomes that are getting squeezed
out of NYCHA. NYCHA was designed to help the poor and those
on fixed incomes. My second issue will be the issues on MTA
and my third issue will be the closing of Rikers Island which it’s obvious that it
was it was more politically motivated – the closing Rikers Island – rather than something
to seriously deal with the issues there. So just briefly on that and then we need to move on. Are you against the closing of Rikers Island
and moving the inmate population to the borough based facilities? I would have been against it but it’s already on track. So now we got to take measures right I would
have been against it because Rikers is it can be repaired there. And they should have emulated – I worked for
the state prison system for about 8,9 years. I’m intimately antiquated with how the prison
system works. And I’ve dealt with ex-offenders, felony
offenders, for like 9 years. So I have a lot of experience in dealing with
the prison system and how it works. So the next question – and let’s just give you a chance to continue on that thought – the
next question is what are a couple of policy proposals that you want to pursue to address
those issues that you’ve identified. So I’ll come back around, but since you’re
talking criminal justice reform, what’s something you want to do about it? From your experience, from what you’ve seen,
what is a policy proposal that you would bring to the state legislature? Well the number one thing I would do as a state legislature I will create a committee
within the state legislature to deal specifically with the commission report that was commission
that was um created for a plan to close Rikers Island in ten years. That way the state will have some control
over their decisions, and my primary concern is public safety. That’s number one. Of course I have a concern about treating
those in custody in a humane manner, and I understand that first hand. I mean when I worked for the state prison
system I used to own a business years ago. I hired four inmates that were being, three
were being unconditionally released, one was released on parole, that was my way of giving
back to the community. It was a construction demolition business. The point I’m making is I understand the
need for rehabilitation for the offenders that are in prisons that are coming out. We need a holistic approach to this issue. Okay. I’m going to stop you there. We’re going to come back on something else
but I want to come to Mr. Cooper. Either on an issue that you identified or
something else that came up, but what are a couple of things that you want to bring
to the legislature to address issues that are central to the district? And I would say it sounds like I heard just
about everybody agrees that affordable housing is clearly a key issue. I’m sure there are others that we can agree
upon for the district are issues, but clearly that’s one that I think people would be
interested in hearing everybody’s ideas on but if there’s other things you want
to throw in as well please. I’m going to piggyback with Mr. Epstein about the MTA. The L train, okay? Right now there is a station being built on
14th street. Why? Okay. Why are you building a brand spanking new
station where you could have taken that money and re-organized and re-built the existing
L train service like 1st ave, second ave, third avenue? Okay? Because I was talking to some construction
guys thinking okay they’re putting accessibility ya know elevators. Okay then take that, put them in the old stations,
and allocate. Why are you spending millions of dollars just
on nothing? I know you creating jobs with the construction. That’s fine. That’s great but you could have taken that
whole resource and rebuilt, reconstruct, entire L service from 1st avenue, 2nd avenue, third
avenue because now I understand they’re doing another billion dollar renovation for
Hurricane Sandy. That’s fine. Again, why go through all this construction
for nothing? We could have taken all that money and just- So let me just ask you quickly you identified that problem either as a community member
or as the Assembly member which would have more weight behind it obviously you’re an
elected official, what do you do? How are you as an Assembly member if you are
elected identify that problem with the MTA, how do you get that addressed? I would go the Governor and to whoever I can talk to and say “Hey look guys. Look. I understand the Hurricane Sandy situation
was a big problem. I know. I’m in the district. I know exactly what’s going on there. The Brooklyn line to the Manhattan line. Things like that. We don’t need to waste billions of dollars
with brand new spanking projects. Just take that money and revamp, rebuild,
reconstruct everything. So you’d go right to the top with it? Right to the top. Thank you. Mr. Epstein a policy proposal or two that
you would bring to Albany? I also just wanted to respond to something that Mr. Pagan just said. First of all I have to say that is I really
disagree with him about Congresswoman Velazquez. She’s been a champion for public housing. She’s fighting for funds. The federal government and the Republican
party in Washington has cut and cut and cut funding for public housing. She’s been there pushing for additional
funding. I think she’s not trying to privatize it. She’s trying to protect it and save it and
I really think we should honor the work that she’s doing. In relationship to criminal justice reform
I think we have to close Rikers. I’ve been to Rikers. I’ve had family stay in Rikers. Friends who have been in Rikers. It’s a terrible place. The violence in Rikers is through the roof. We need to close that facility. We need to close it sooner than later and
open up local facilities and make it safer for people who are there. But more importantly for criminal justice
reform we have a bail system that’s broken. It is affecting black and Latino children
at higher rates than white children and white adults. And we need to reform bail, we need to reform
bail bond systems, we need to talk about how people are being incarcerated in the system
because race and class and we are ignoring those issues. On the MTA I actually feel like we need to
have an accessible L train line. People know from the 1st avenue exit for the
L train is the only exit. It is crowded. It is not accessible. That is why they’re building an entrance
on Avenue A. Not only do we need to have an entrance on Avenue A and in making that accessible,
the entire L train should become accessible because people with disabilities live in our
city. They live at different stops. They live near different stations and we need
to make sure the subway system is accessible to everyone. Just on the issue I want to talk about affordable
housing. Just on affordable housing we need to change
the rent stabilization laws. We need to strengthen laws. We need to talk about MCI: major capital improvement
reform. We need to talk about reforming preferential
rents and making sure that tenants are protected. We need to talk about vacancy bonuses that
landlords shouldn’t be getting. And for public housing we need to have a state
commitment for public housing dollars. Capital dollars. The 31 billion dollar need for public housing
in New York City. We need to talk about how we can really start
funding public housing so people don’t live in degraded conditions. People can get the repairs that they need
and they can get the service that they need. Right now the state has underfunded public
housing, its capital needs, and we need to change that. Thank you. We’ll come back to you in just a minute. I’m going to give Ms. Craig-Williams a chance
to talk about a couple of policy proposals and then we’ll come back to you Mr. Pagan. I also want to talk about closing Rikers. I think we need to close Rikers as soon as
possible and cash bail. Most people on Rikers haven’t even committed
a crime which is beside the point. They shouldn’t – yes they are disproportionately
affecting poor Latino black people and they’re just waiting for trial. They get pressured into taking plea bargains
and then they’re in the system. But yeah so 100 percent close Rikers. Close it yesterday. Free them all and cash bail. And also regarding criminal justice reform
the number one thing we can do is fund public education. If our schools had really great after school
programs, if everyone was getting an education and felt like they were valued, people who
can’t afford to have a lot of books at home if they had beautiful libraries. I mean that’s how we prevent crime especially
crime that is about poverty. It’s not about being a bad person. It’s about not having access to the things
that people in power take for granted. For doing that I would propose drastically
cutting the NYPD budget and drastically raising the NYCHA budget. Like kind of flip them. Mr. Pagan you mentioned some criminal justice I’m going to touch upon that. I also want to touch upon Nina Velazquez in
regard to NYCHA developments. Nina Velazquez she has um she’s pushing
the RAD – you’re familiar with RAD of course? The rental agreement demonstration? Actually an experiment. She raised the cap from 15,000 units to be
experimented with to 455,00 units. To experiment with? She’s actually experimenting with 450,000
families who live in NYCHA. A recent audit done by the feds show that
RAD does not guarantee affordability. In fact what it’s doing is it’s doing
exactly what I mentioned before. It’s allowing private developers to come
in, take over. She is using Section 8 to squeeze in the private
developers. It’s a scheme. It’s a predatory scheme and it’s affecting
the poor people. The ones that are going to get hurt are the
poor and those with fixed incomes including the elderly who the majority are on fixed
incomes. And in regard to closing Rikers Island I worked
in the state prison system for years, alright? One of the prisons I worked with was Sing
Sing a maximum security prison. 90 percent of the inmates that are in Sing
Sing, a maximum security prison, came from Rikers Island. They’re there for murder, rape, sodomy,
assault, very serious crimes. Okay? So you know not everyone in Rikers Island
is innocent number one. Number two, they should alright let me use
an example. I’m going to need you to wrap up please. Okay. Mid-Orange state prison is one of the well
running, practically no violence prisons in New York State a state study proved. They should emulate the construction and the
management style of Mid-Orange state prison and apply that to Rikers Island. Believe me that would work. Mr. Cooper you wanted to make a point I believe on either Rikers or something else. I saw you flagging. Yeah. Because I’m hearing closing closing closing. Here’s the question. Where you going to put them? Where you going to put these people? Okay? Where are you going to like you put all of
these you know people who are offenders? Rikers Island needs to stay open. Now I am not for closing Rikers Island. That needs to stay there. There’s a reason why Rikers Island is Rikers
Island and that’s it. I know that the city has an outline of a plan. There’s obviously some state jurisdictional
issues. There’s an oversight that comes into play,
but let’s return to some state legislative Mayor De Blasio he’s like okay you can’t just push people to accept these prisoners
in these new jails. You got to talk to the people. You got to know what’s going on. You can’t just close a prison and all of
a sudden “Hey guys! We got new prisoners here.” Come on now! This is about public safety. This is about law enforcement. Okay. So I’ve heard a few things mentioned that
relate to the state legislature and the state budget. There was recently a new budget that passed
that kicked in the April 1st start for the new fiscal year. I want to give everyone a chance. I know bail reform that a couple of folks
had mentioned was one of the things that did not make it into the budget that many Democrats
and advocates were pushing for so we’ve sort of heard that. Rent regulations not so much this budget but
will be coming up again has been dealt with before. But I want to give everybody a chance to evaluate
the state budget that was just passed. Talk about anything that you think either
was good about it, was bad about it, missed opportunities, things that you’d want to
pursue in the future. And you know for folks not that familiar at
home the state budget is often where a lot of new policy gets decided as well. It’s not just a spending plan. It’s also where often where policy items
are decided and then the funding attached gets decided as well. There is still the legislative session in
Albany in the next few months so again you’re welcome to talk about things that you would
like to pursue when you get up there. Obviously if you are victorious here you’ve
missed the state budget, but I want to give everybody the chance to weigh in and we’re
going to start with Mr. Epstein here. Thank you about the question on the state budget, about what was in and what was not
in. I think the things that were in was the tax
reform. As we know the president passed a tax bill
last year that really affected blue states like New York. It would be really horrible for millions of
New Yorkers. I think they fixed it in the state budget. Hopefully it will be able to be a fix. I think that’s a positive thing. What didn’t happen was the early voting. New York is one of the lowest states in the
country on voter turnout. We have no an early voting system. We really need an early voting system. That fell off the table this year unfortunately. We need to figure out if we can get that done
in this legislative session. Other things, bail, bail reform I think we
need to talk about that. Bail and the bail system is a race and class
system and we should just acknowledge that’s how it works and we need to reform that. The rent laws as you mentioned may be up for
next renewal for next year but the hope is we can get something done in this legislative
session around preferential rents, vacancy bonus, for MCI reform. I think those are real potentials for this
year as well. I am really hopeful around those things that
can happen. And I think bottom line is while we have some
conversations around fixing the MTA, what we really need to do is talk about funding
the rich. Millionaire and billionaire taxes to fund
public transportation. We’re talking about congestion pricing as
a tool and there were some things passed in the budget around that. Just around for-hire cabs. There’s a longer conversation around congestion
pricing I think we need to have, but we need to talk about taxing people who can afford
it and we’re not doing that right now in New York. We need to do that. Thank you. Ms. Craig-Williams your evaluation of the
recently passed state budget? Yes I mean I agree with most of what Mr. Epstein said. You know Cuomo likes to pretend that he’s
a progressive. He can talk about all the things he pushed
for in the budget. And yeah early voting seems like a no brainer. That shouldn’t have fallen out. And bail reform. Yeah it’s absolutely among the cruelest
things that we do. Most people at Rikers Island are waiting for
trial because they can’t pay bail. They’re not convicted criminals despite
the fact that convicted criminals are any way representative of actual crime. I agree we should tax the rich to pay for
more things. If I got elected that would represent a great
C change in politics to have a Green representative so yes I would do a lot. Thank you. Mr. Pagan your evaluation of the budget? I’ve lived 50 years in NYCHA development, still live there. I just celebrated 50 years last February. Cuomo received a lot of criticism from what
I heard out there in regards to the $250 million in the budget he’s given to NYCHA. And I agree with Cuomo what he’s doing. He’s smart. He knows what he’s doing. What I see him doing he doesn’t want to
albeit the prolificacy of NYCHA. NYCHA does not have moral restraints on how
to spend their money. They are wasteful. They mismanage. They misappropriate money. I could give you details but I can tell you
later because I’ve lived in NYCHA for 50 years. I’m enduring it and seeing it with my own
eyes. I’m a victim of it. So I see what’s going on. And an independent monitor is so important. So alright let’s give them $250 million. Let an independent monitor watch how they
spend this money because they have been so wasteful in all these years, in so many years
of not properly maintaining the NYCHA developments, especially here in our district. So I hear you’re saying you like what’s in the state budget related to NYCHA. You approve of the Governor’s executive
order that accompanied it. Anything, briefly 10 seconds, anything that
you feel like did not make it into the state budget that you were disappointed by? That I’m disappointed by? Well the bail bond issue I’m glad it didn’t
pass because it has to be examined carefully. You can’t just say – I understand when I
worked in the prison system, blacks and Latinos Latinos and blacks that’s all I see come
into the system. We need to go deeper to the root of the problem. The bail bond issue? You’re putting a band aid on a compound
fracture. We don’t want band aids on a compound fracture. We want to repair that compund fracture, put
a cast on it, and let it heal. Okay. Got it. Mr. Cooper, the state budget? Okay let’s get one thing clear here. Taxing the rich is not going to work. Not going to happen. Never will. So you can throw that out the window because
there’s no way in the world I’m going to back it and I’m pretty sure the Assembly
men they’re not going to back it either because we need wealthy people in our state. That’s how we pay taxes. This is how business is done. Wall Street and the whole 9 yards. We need these people. Without that we wouldn’t have a state budget. And as far as bail reform and stuff like that
I agree with Mr. Pagan. Let’s just be careful with this because
every person has a different issue regarding bail, regarding crimes that’s committed
things like that so bail is an individual issue. So we can’t just do it across the board. It has to be examined. And secondly, about NYCHA budget the money
is there. The money has always been there. It’s the leadership. That’s the problem. The problem is the leadership. The city all the way to Albany. So we need to reevaluate the leadership of
who’s handling the money. If you want to reform that, let’s open up
the books. Let’s find out where all the money is allocated. Let’s find out what’s going on not just
in my district but in all boroughs. So we’re in our last couple rounds of questions here for the debate and thank you for your
participation thus far. We’re going to start with you Ms. Craig-Williams
on this question. The district is obviously on, much of it is
on the coast line and there are issues around storm protection. What would you do, what would you pursue around
resiliency around storm protection if you are elected to the state assembly? Well for one like funding NYCHA, giving more funding for actual resilience. Planning for like the basement, the first
floor, because even if there’s storm protection the floods will come up again. That we need to study and learn from say The
Netherlands what to do when you’re building gets flooded so that we can prevent the kind
of things that happened during Sandy when we didn’t have power for 10 days. We need to do it now and soon. I’m going to stop you there because we do want to get to closing statements after this
round. So Mr. Pagan something you would do about
sustainability and flood protection? Yes I would certainly do my best to give it all the funding that it needs. Of course it should be overseen. A couple of weeks ago I did attend a meeting
where the people who are actually designing and are going to build the project along the
East River where I live. I look out my window. I see the East River. In fact, I saw the East River come over. What an experience! I never saw anything like that in my life. But the point I want to make is that I will
fully fund it. I saw the plans that they’re doing. Outstanding plans. In the meeting though the people were like
“Well it looks ugly. What are you going to do about aesthetics?” And I’m like I saw these cement and steel. I mean they do. They do look like the strong holds that the
Nazis built in France during the occupation but it looks like a plan that is going to
work, prevent the East River from flooding us again, from what I saw. It’s a beautiful plan. And you want to make sure it gets funded. Thank you. Mr. Cooper? Well being a member of cer-team, certain community response teams, cer-teams, we are working
with Cer-team 6 which is Peter Cooper Stuytown about education. What we’re going to do in the summer time,
we’re going to do street fairs about being prepared, getting go bags, what to do, where
to meet, emergency rations and things like that because we want people to be educated
on unfortunately we’re going to have another hurricane, super storms things like that. It’s about evacuation. How to properly get people together and properly
evacuate their homes. Now as far as the walls and everything else
that’s the Army Corps of Engineers. I would be commissioning the Army Corps of
Engineers. They’re masters. So what we do is commission them, along with
the state emergency management, in accordance with county emergency management, in order
to figure out how to handle not just our district but all the way down to the financial district. All the way down to the west side. We talking about an entire island here. Understood thank you. Mr. Epstein? On the resiliency question I think we need to talk about flood protection. I think the walls are important. I think we shouldn’t sacrifice things that
we have like the Asbury Park playground shouldn’t be divided off just because they didn’t
want to spend a little more money to go around it. I think we need to talk about how the bridges
and how people can access the East River for most of the year, making sure the flood protection
also is usable. We need to think about using environmentally
sound material. We need to talk about green material, and
we need to talk about expanding opportunities for solar in New York City as well as alternative
sources of energy so long term sustainability is on our table. Thank you and actually we’ll just keep going in that same direction for closing statements. We’ll start with you Ms. Craig-Williams. Okay. Well thank you very much for hosting it and
thank you everyone else for participating. My name is Adrienne Craig-Williams. I’m the Green Party candidate. I’m the most progressive person in the race. I will fight for you and your families even
if you don’t have a lot of money, even if you don’t have any documents, even if you’re
from another country, even if you can’t vote. So thanks for your support. Thank you. Mr. Pagan. I’m running for office to tackle
all these issues and more, but the primary reason why I’m running for office is to
give the people the opportunity to choose their candidate. The one they want to represent them. I’m talking about electoral reform right
from the local level. We don’t need party leaders choosing for
us. We don’t need 17 people of a committee to
choose the elected official to represent you. We need everyone, not just the Democrats,
the Republicans, the Green party, the Working Families, the Reform party who I think of
greatly who put me in this position to be here. Democrat – it’s really a face off between
me and this guy here – Democrats because really I mean throughout the history, all my life,
Republicans never won let alone third party candidates. It’s always a battle between Democrats. And the contaminated Democrats that we have
now which I’m so ashamed of because I’m a Democrat. The point I’m making is the people deserve
to choose their candidate. Thank you. Mr. Cooper. I am a Republican. Proud to be a Republican. I have been with the Republican party going
on now 18 years and I’ve been a Republican leader for 14 years. I’m running in this race because I am the
alternative. I want people to say “Hey. Enough with this Democratic battle stuff that’s
going on. Let’s go with the alternative.” I ran against Brian Kavanaugh. I would like to replace him. A Bryan replacing another Brian. I want people to prosper. I want people to have choices. School choices. Public safety choices. Just choices just to you know live their lives
in the better. I’m pro-police. I am pro law enforcement. I am pro-business. I want people to make as much money as possible
because I want their families to prosper. I want them to feel good about themselves. I want them to be educated. Thank you. And Mr. Epstein with the final closing statement. First I just want to thank you for monitoring this debate. It’s been really helpful to have a lot of
issues exposed here. I’ve lived in this community for decades. I’ve raised my children in the community. I’ve worked hard as a parent leader, as
a community leader, as an activist to make a difference in the lives of New Yorkers. And my hope is by being sent to the Assembly,
being sent to Albany, I will be able to talk about my progressive values, get things done,
organize, bring people together to make a difference in the lives of regular New Yorkers
who are struggling. Everyday they’re struggling. I saw it when I sat on the rent guidelines
board where thousands of people said “Oh even a 1 percent increase in my rent might
mean I would be evicted”. Seeing people put into homeless shelters. Seeing people not surviving. It is our job to understand the issues of
New Yorkers and go to Albany and make a difference for them. I hope I’ve earned your support today. Thank you. I want to thank the candidates for participating in today’s debate. Again the special election for the 74th Assembly
district is being held April 24th, a Tuesday. You do need to be registered to vote to participate
and you must live within the state assembly district. For more information about voting, locating
your poll site, and learning more about the candidates you can visit the League of Women
voters website at,, or Thank you for watching Manhattan Neighborhood
Network. Goodbye.

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