First here is the link to the Monday July 29th Bronxtalk 11th City Council debate. The three candidates in the debate were Andrew Cohen, Cheryl Keeling, and Cliff Stanton.
Petitions were submitted by July 15th and there was a fourth petition filed that contained only 179 signatures when 450 valid signatures were needed. There were two challenges (by an agent of Mr. Stanton) to the petition that contained the 179 signatures, and to Ms. Kellings petition in which 1,006 signatures were submitted. There were no challenges to Mr. Cohen's or Mr. Stanton's petitions that were submitted. The Board of Elections was to render a decision on all challenges starting on Tuesday July 30th.
In the photo above Host Gary Axelbank sits alone on the left, and starting with candidate Cheryl Keeling on the right, candidate Andrew Cohen center, and candidate Cliff Stanton to the right of candidate Cohen. Questions came from the host and from the three candidates.
It was not long into the debate that the fireworks began between candidates Keeling and Stanton over Stanton's challenge of the Keeling petition in a question as to why by Mr. Axelbank. Ms. Keeling wanted to know why Mr. Stanton challenged her. She went on to say that Mr. Stanton asked her to meet him outside the district to ask her to drop out, and told her that he would not challenge her. Stanton said that was not the case, and that after looking at her petition, seeing hundreds of non registered & out of district signatures he decided to challenge. Stanton added that if Keeling was running in Flushing Queens or the South Bronx it may be different, but this is the 11th council district. Ms. Keeling brought out a copy of her petition that she had in the blue bag that you can see under her chair, and claimed there were enough valid signatures. Axelbank then turned to candidate Andrew Cohen who said that he had not challenged anybody in the race. Stanton rebutted Keeling by saying that 5 pages were done in red ink, and continued to belittle her petition. Cohen again said that he didn't challenge anybody, and Stanton then said that Ms. Keeling was playing the race card .
Axelbanks next question was about endorsements to Cohen asking if he was a pawn of those who endorsed him or independent. Cohen answered by saying that he was proud of the elected officials and unions that have endorsed him. Keeling said she did not call Mr. Cohen a puppet. Stanton said it was him, and that the endorsements came through the Ben Franklin Democratic Club.Stanton then said of the endorsements- Senator Jeff Klein "Sold out the Democrats in Albany", Congressman Rangel "Was censured by Congress", and that Councilman Koppell "has thrown of good community board members". Axelbank repeated to Cohen if he could be independent. Cohen replied that he will be going to City Hall with all those people to help him become a better councilman.
To a question about her comments in the last debate about voting Keeling said that she is the candidate of the district, that she speaks the language of the district, and when pressed by Axelbank said the squeaky wheel gets the oil by voting more. Stanton said that Keeling took more heat than needed for her remarks, and said that people need to see who is the best candidate.Cohen said that he has campaigned throughout the district. In rebuttal Keeling said that she did not appreciate the apathy of Mr. Stanton.
To a question about Charter Schools Mr. Stanton replied that as a parent leader at PS 24 parents wanted more options after 5th grade, and that was why he helped start a local charter school saying it was a public school that does not take anything away from the public schools. Cohen said that work needs to be done to make the public schools better. Keeling said as a certified teacher she has seen what goes on in schools, and wants more art & phys. ed. back in the public schools.
To a question about community board control such as the cleaning house in boards 1,4, and recently 9, and the hijacking of CB 8 Cohen replied that it is the Borough President who makes all appointments. Cohen added that he is currently on CB 8 as the Aging Committee chair and that the current system of appointments is according to the city charter. Keeling said that she applied to be a committee member of the Parks Committee of CB 8, and that community boards are the grass roots of the community. Stanton on the other hand said that the system is flawed, and has seen how board members are intimidated by the politicians, and that appointments need to be taken out of the hands of the politicians. Cohen rebutted that he will appoint quality people like himself.
To a question of malls and big box stores Keeling said that as a former business owner she favors small mom & pop stores over the big ones. Cohen said the two new malls will help enhance the area around them, and that he gets complaints about all the 99 cent stores that line Broadway. Stanton said as a successful small businessman he developed ideas to the commercial corridors better, took credit for bringing a temporary Ice Skating Rink to the area, and proposed a pedestrian plaza on Johnson Avenue. Cohen rebutted that fines are to high to Bronx business compared to those in Manhattan, they should be less he said. Stanton rebutted that he as a member of KRVDC brought movie night to the area.
To a question of campaign donations from the owner of Scores Strip Club, and the donation being a down payment to allow strip clubs into the community Stanton said that he will not give the campaign donations by an owner of a strip club back, attacked the Riverdale Review (and its owner) about the front page story about the issue. Stanton then attacked the Ben Franklin Club saying that it is in their playbook to try to deflect attention away from his opponents lack of qualifications. He added that the owner of the strip club should be celebrated as a successful businessman and not attack him. Cohen said that he does not know why Stanton is accepting strip club money. Stanton then attacked Cohen for accepting a campaign donation from the CEO of the Hebrew Home when the Hebrew Home is presenting a proposal in front of Community Board 8 to expand. Keeling said that she was glad that tonight on Bronxtalk that Cliff Stanton has showed his true colors, to which Stanton then pulled out a copy of the front page story and asked Cohen to Rebuke the paper. Cohen said that he has no contact with the paper or with Ms. Keeling. Keeling then added "How can Stanton go after a newspaper", where as Stanton ended the responses by saying "The Board of Elections will see if you continue in the race".
To a question about park funding, conservancies, and Friends of to which Axelbank said Cohen was a member of the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park. Cohen said this was the first year that park funding has gone up by one percent, and that the city has an obligation to fund its parks. As to where from in a follow up question Cohen said that he was not opposed to private money, but the city needs to do more. Keeling agreed with Cohen, but Stanton said that the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy has worked miracles by getting the ice rink.
The last question was who do you support for mayor? Stanton - Don't Know, Cohen - No Endorsement, Keeling - Erick Salgado.
In short one minute closing statements Stanton said that he is a local kid from the area, Ps 24 Executive Board member, KRVDC member, and a small business owner. Cohen said that he is an attorney with his own practice, has lived in the district over 13 years, graduated from prom public schools, meets people as he travels around the district hearing their problems about quality of life issues, and will be a full time Councilman. Keeling said that she is 62 years old, has spent many years in the public schools, the council district is changing to a district that she is the best to lead it as it changes.
To watch the 11th council debate for the first time or again just click the link here for the Bronxtalk home page.
Next Monday night will be the debate between the candidates running in the 15th City Council race.