It was a little unexpected of some of the things that went on at last night's candidates forum on City Island There were those who thought questions might be slanted against current Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, and those who felt that there might be some soft questions for City Island resident John Doyle. That did not happen even though there were a few people who did not get called on with questions for candidate Doyle. This was a City Island Civic Association meeting, and it was said that only City Island residents would be able to ask questions of the candidates.
In opening statements (of which candidates Marjorie Velazquez, John Cerini, and Egidio Semitelli were at the Community board 10 meeting also going on at the same time) began with candidate Victor Ortiz spoke of the city's failure on Rodman's Neck, and local community needs. Candidate Mark Gjonaj spoke of his experience in the State Assembly, his 14 years as a resident of City Island, that he will work with those who have endorsed him such as senator Klein and Assemblyman Benedetto. He also mentioned his wives work as a nurse, and to vote for Nurse Roberta's husband Mark Gjonaj. John Doyle spoke of growing up on City Island, fighting for the community, that he wants to do the same thing for the entire 13th council district, and of the broken machine in Albany. Candidate Alex Gomez said that he was a regular person like those in the audience, and they should vote for him.
Questions came next - to Mark Gjonaj a question on women's health and integrity to a mailing he sent out touting his record on women's rights, but he voted against the ten point woman's health plan. Gjonaj answered that he was for nine of the ten points, but would not let someone other than a doctor perform abortions as in point ten. Candidate Doyle said that the mailer said it was all ten points not just nine, and that Senator Klein voted for the bill. Candidate Gomez said that he was disappointed that this was still an issue in 2017.
Next question to all - how do you plan to make City Island more resilient? Gomez - An emergency evacuation plan needs to be put in place. Ortiz - No evacuation plan for the island. Doyle - Not many public facilities on the island, he would try to bring Emergency Management Services to the island and to all parts of the district in question. Gjonaj - would send out a survey to find the needs. Said that the island is not ready for another super storm.
There was a question on vacant waterfront properties which brought answers - Gomez, important to preserve the 100 year old buildings - Cerini who just came from the CB 10 meeting said he wants the CB to have more say, and the power to veto proposals. Doyle - wants a part time urban planner to propose downzoning. Gjonaj - mentioned that while living on City Island it was like a vacation home that he wants to keep that type of living, Ortiz - cur option on CB's, BP's office, and mayor's office allows overdevelopment.
Candidates Velazquez and Semitelli came in at the end, with the high point being after candidate Doyle gave an his closing speech, Semitelli said that he was voting for Mr. Doyle, to say later that he was only joking. photos are below.
Above - Candidate Victor Ortiz
Below - Candidate Mark Gjonaj
Above - Candidate Alex Gomez
Below - Candidate John Doyle
Above - Candidate Marjorie Velazquez
Below - The now infamous photo of candidate Egidio Sementelli with candidate John Doyle.