Thanks to MNN-TV for getting the NY League of Women Voters to host two separate debates recorded on Oct. 9 among the Manhattan Council candidates for District 6 and 7. The League’s moderator who made up the questions was Adrianne Kivelson and each debate was to last 30 minutes. Stina Gonzalez, the Green candidate for Council District 7 was supposed to debate Mark Levine. the Democrat, but he declined. When Adrianne tried to get Stina to reduce her time to 15 minutes because her opponent did not show, Stina stood her ground and insisted on the full 30 minutes as was originally agreed.
I, Tom Siracuse, Green Candidate for District 6, debated Helen Rosenthal, the Democrat, and Harry DeMell, the Republican. I challenged Helen’s typically Democrat empty rhetoric on the issues. Housing and education were the main topics. Helen said affordable housing was critical in keeping the district livable and diverse. I asked Helen why then did she support “inclusionary zoning” that enables real estate developers to get variances on zoning to allow bigger and taller high rise luxury new buildings in exchange for including 20% of then units as “affordable”. I pointed out that most of these “affordable” units were not affordable for working class tenants. The district is already awash with new high rise luxury buildings that further gentrifies the area and forces small business out because of the higher rents. These larger buildings also cause more congestion and put stress on the infrastructure and environment. I came out firmly against inclusionary zoning and proposed rent control for small business. The Republican, DeMell, proposed selling public housing in the district for co-ops! On education, he came out against mayoral control although he thought Bloomberg had done a good job. Helen said that Bloomberg’s mayoral control was a failure but said that mayoral control under DeBlasio would be a success. I came out against mayoral control. I asked Helen, how could she as a Democrat, support a dictatorial school governance, no matter who the mayor is. I proposed a democratic school governance in which parents and teachers had a say. After the debate, Adrianne remarked that this was the only debate she attended in which there were a clear difference of views. She was asked if the League of Women Voters would organize a debate among all the mayoral candidates in the general election. The League had already organized one for the Democratic candidates in the mayoral primary. She said that it would be too difficult to have a debate among all of the eleven mayoral candidates and what criteria would be used to reduce the number? Where there is a will there is a way. Why not extend the time of the debate from 30 to 60 minutes or have three debates, for 3 or four candidates at a time? It seems to me that the League was not that interested in giving independent candidates an opportunity to get their message out to public.Report