Even without two of the top four Democratic candidates Christine Quinn and Bill deBlasio, and none of the Republican candidates for mayor almost 2,000 people attended the Coop City Mayoral Forum last night. On hand were Democrats Bill Thompson, John Liu, Anthony Weiner, Sal Albanese, And Erick Salgado, along with former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion who is running on the Independence Party line in November. No local elected official was on hand, but they all had someone from their staff in the audience. Also on hand was Public Advocate candidate Letitia James.
There were 15 questions scheduled to ask of the candidates, and then additional questions that were written on cards from the audience. Due to a late start only 8 of the questions were asked and answered. Female District Leader & President of the Coop City Democratic Club Shirley Saunders and Riverbay Board President William "Bill" Gordon moderated the forum.
The opening statements began with current City Comptroller John Liu stating that he has saved the city millions of dollars in his role as comptroller, the pension fund the comptroller controls was up 58 percent over the last 4 years, and that his high school sweetheart was from Coop City. Bill Thompson said that he was going to be the next mayor, mentioned his Brooklyn roots, and his family including his 89 year old father who is trying to pass himself off as the candidates brother. Sal Albanese said that he was independent, not taking money from developers, a former city councilman, and former teacher.Anthony Weiner started by saying that if he lived in Coop City he would not vote for anyone who did not come tonight. He then went into some of the problems of COOP City which included the lack of quality transportation, and good schools. He said that he wants to fight for the middle class. After Weiner finished there was cheering and loud clapping. Erick Salgado spoke of his asthma problem as a child which forced his family to move to Puerto Rico from the Bronx. He then went on about the Campaign Finance Board not giving him matching funds and that he was not counted as a candidate in certain polls. Carrion mentioned that he was in the class of1979 from Truman High School, and that Coop City was a garbage dump and an amusement park in the 1960's. Carrion added that he would be on the ballot in November on the Independence Party line, and that only one of the people on stage would be.
As for the questions - 1 - Mass transit in the area. Carrion claimed that he started the ball rolling on the proposed new Metro North train stations. Salgado wants the #6 train to go to Coop City. Weiner wants the cuts to the MTA three years ago restored, again to loud clapping. Thompson wants to find where the extra dollars can come from to make the restorations to the MTA. Liu agreed on restoring the cuts, and said that he led the fight to keep the express bus service.
2- Senior citizens and the problem of crossing streets due to the high traffic volume with 87 more new stores in the area. Liu said the area needs the infrastructure due to congestion already. Thompson a study should be done before the stores open also adding it may be a safety issue. Albanese said the city needs to be proactive before a disaster strikes. Weiner opened up by joking that he did not see any senior citizens in the audience and he would have more traffic enforcement. Salgado mentioned George McDonald, and finished his rant of the CFB and polls. Carrion said a ramp from the Hutch was needed, and mentioned the new ramp from it to the new Hutch Metro Center.
3- Youth and after school programs. All agreed more were needed with Weiner wanting to bring back the Beacon School program to Truman High School. Liu went on to say if children are not occupied it can lead to being stopped and frisked because of who they are.
4 - The asbestos problem of the glue under wood floors in the buildings and the cost to residents. Liu wanted a second opinion and said it was the EPA that moved up the PCB removal in public schools. Thompson said he met for years with residents and there was no air born asbestos problem. Albanese joked about the mention of 800 degrees and said at that temperature no one would be here to worry about it. Weiner did not want to remove it if it did not have to. Carrion wanted to know who supplied the glue.
There were other questions, but the worst line of the night came from Erick Salgado after the comment from Carrion that he was already on the November ballot. Salgado said vote for me on September 10th then you can vote for him in November.
Before the forum I asked many people who they might be voting for and the answer was they wanted to see the candidates tonight or they were undecided as of yet many said not wanting to admit to a candidate. After the forum it was clear that Anthony Weiner was the winner as many people said when I asked. Still however there was little commitment to any of the candidates.
Left - Candidate John Liu works the audience before the forum.
Right - Moderator Shirley Saunders lays down the ground rules for the forum.
Left & right shots of the candidates on stage.
Left - a photo of part of the huge crowd.
Right - Male State Committeeman Lou Goldstein poses for a photo with John Liu, Goldstein said that he is supporting Bill deBlasio for mayor.