By Jon Cronin, Editor
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale) and Juniper Park Civic Association President Bob Holden, who will face off in the Sept. 12 Democratic primary election, traded barbs during a recent candidates night formatted as a forum that was meant to control the contentious campaigning between the two.
The primary race is one of the most heated this election season. Last year, the Maspeth Holiday Inn shelter issue catapulted then-unknown Assembly candidate Brian Barnwell to beat 17-year incumbent Assemblywoman Marge Markey in the September primary.
Both Markey and Crowley have been criticized for not being on top of the shelter issue or attending the nightly protests in front of the Holiday Inn. Crowley has stated that she was against the plan and touts her lawsuit against Mayor Bill de Blasio as proof.
Despite the Ridgewood Property Owners Association’s Q&A format of the Sept. 7 forum, Crowley and Holden went tit for tat over local and city issues from the past eight years of Crowley’s tenure in the council.
Off the bat, Holden pointed out that he would have made sure that MTA spaces near the M line would have been cleaned, rather than collecting garbage as it does now, had he been a councilman eight years ago. Crowley and Holden agreed that that the MTA should allow residents to park overnight in the MTA’s employee parking lot near the M train station.
When asked about supporting de Blasio’s plan for a millionaire’s tax or the Move New York plan, Holden said that he had “problems with both,” but he is “leaning toward Move New York.” He also approved of MTA Commissioner Joe Lhota’s idea of Albany and the city splitting the difference to fund the MTA.
“$800 million was a good start,” he said, referring to the amount of money that Lhota had proposed to fix the agency’s problems.
Holden also believes that the city should tax developers for creating high-rise apartment buildings that city infrastructure cannot support. Holden then asked, “Do we need the BQX? No!,” referring to the mayor’s $2.5 billion dollar street car plan along the Brooklyn and Astoria waterfront. He encouraged the city to bring back the commuter tax.
Crowley pointed out that Gov. Andrew Cuomo endorsed her re-election and that she is committed to working with him. She added that she would not support the Move New York plan or a congestion tax.
“Our middle class families are taxed too much,” she said. “It’s not the answer to the infrastructure problems.”
She said that she would support the millionaire’s tax since her constituents don’t make that much money. She also wants to make sure that MTA projects that are funded will aid her district. Crowley has put forth her own plan to create a light rail from Jamaica to Long Island City along the lower Montauk freight line that has been endorsed by Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. A feasibility study for the light rail is currently underway.
The community has expressed concern of a character change in the neighborhood. At the debate, residents questioned whether the two candidates would support further downzoning of the district. Crowley pointed to aiding in creating the largest historical district outside of Manhattan in Ridgewood as well as helping to downzone Maspeth and Ridgewood when she took office in 2009.
Holden claimed that the downzoning was already taking place when she took office and that he went door to door with 75 volunteers, categorizing each home to kick off the downzoning.
In regards to homeless shelters, the district’s most contentious issue, Holden introduced an idea to have the district’s homeless, which he said that the city Department of Homeless Services approximates at 260, could be helped by local faith based organizations.
Crowley pushed for more affordable housing.
“But it has to be affordable,” she reiterated. “I believe the measure we put forth in the council for free legal counsel will help, but it will not go far enough.”
She lauded a local Ridgewood church that is offering beds to homeless seniors in the community.
Reach Jon Cronin at 718-357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin.