2009-10-23 / Top Stories

City Council Candidates Speak Out

Respond To Questions From The Wave Staff

Eric Ulrich(R) New York City Councilman 32nd District Eric Ulrich(R) New York City Councilman 32nd District
Eric Ulrich(R)
New York City Councilman
32nd District
1. What do you see as the one major transportation fix Rock - away needs to entice people who work in Manhattan to live here?

The Rockaway Peninsula has waterfront access that is truly second-tonone. The city must take advantage of this natural resource by expanding and improving ferry service to other parts of the peninsula. Integrating ferry service to connect with bus and subway lines must also be part of this plan. This will allow commuters to seamlessly use their MetroCards to get around, no matter which mode of transportation they use. I believe that enhanced ferry service will attract new homeowners and residents to Rockaway, and will also aide economic development on the peninsula.

2. Do you think mayoral control of schools has been successful? Why or why not? What, if anything, needs to be changed to improve education in Rockaway schools?

Frank Gulluscio (D) City Council Candidate 32nd District Frank Gulluscio (D) City Council Candidate 32nd District Overall, Mayoral control has brought stability, accountability and cohesion to the city's public school system. Reauthorization of Mayoral control, in the form of the recently passed School Governance Law, has allowed for more parental involvement by empowering district superintendents and parent councils to have more decision making power. With respect to improving public schools in Rockaway & Broad Channel, the city must do more to alleviate overcrowded classrooms so that students get the individual attention they deserve. In the end, parents deserve a system that fosters good, safe learning environments that prepare our children for adult life.

3. How do the needs of Rockaway residents differ from those of your mainland constituents? And how would you balance the two?

In many ways, the needs of Rock - away residents are similar to those on the mainland. Rockaway homeowners and residents want tax relief, better public transportation, clean streets, good schools, and a respectable quality of-life. Serving the needs of all of my constituents has been a balancing act since taking office. I decided early on that the only way to ensure the best possible representation district-wide would be to divide my time evenly between my two district offices. This has worked out to be tremendously successful thus far.

Scherie Murray (R) City Council Candidate 31st District Scherie Murray (R) City Council Candidate 31st District 4. In your view, what is the most critical quality of life issue facing Rockaway and Broad Channel residents?

The most critical quality-of-life issue facing Rockaway and Broad Channel residents is the inadequate level of public transportation. In the past, I have argued that the MTA must expand and fully implement their high-speed bus service to include Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevard south into the Rockaways. This innovative bus service, known as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), would use dedicated bus lanes, computer-controlled traffic lights, and allow riders to pay their fare on the sidewalk rather than on the bus in an effort to save time and get passengers to their destination more quickly.

James Sanders Jr. (D) New York City Councilman 31st District James Sanders Jr. (D) New York City Councilman 31st District 5. Gun-related crime is a problem even in our quiet district. What is your position on gun control? Should the city have the right to regulate guns, and should the Congress pass more comprehensive gun regulations?

Support for the Second Amendment right-to-bear-arms must go hand-inhand with keeping illegal guns out of the hands of criminals. I applaud the city's efforts to reduce violent crime in our neighborhoods through the gun buyback program. Since last year, more than 3,500 illegal guns have been recovered, many of which came from Rockaway. Statistics show that most crimes are not committed by lawabiding citizens who choose to own a legal firearm. The city does not have the jurisdiction to regulate guns. In fact, the limited role municipalities do have is currently under review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

6. A recent court ruling has worried locals that mentally ill people from the area adult homes will be placed to live in residential settings within their neighborhoods. Do you have a plan to address this eventuality and are you in favor of this ruling?

The Federal court's recent attempt to place mentally ill individuals into private homes throughout the community is just another example of "big" government trying its hand at social experimentation. While the details of the plan have yet to be announced, I am concerned for both the health and well being of those displaced residents, as well as the people in the surrounding community.
Frank Gulluscio (D)
City Council Candidate
32nd District
1. What do you see as the one major transportation fix Rock - away needs to entice people who work in Manhattan to live here?

Transportation as a whole needs to be fixed, this means a full time A train, more express buses and additional ferries that run more frequently and go more places. Our waterways are a wonderful re - source that we must take better advantage of. We can have ferries that run more than twice a day, more than just on weekdays and go to more than just Wall Street. We need to use the $15 million that Congressman Weiner has appropriated and use it to make a real investment in our waterways by buying faster ferries. Rock away needs that funding and Rock away needs those ferries.

2. Do you think mayoral control of schools has been successful? Why or why not? What, if anything, needs to be changed to improve education in Rock - away schools?

I think that overall mayoral control has been successful but chang - es need to be made. As a former teacher I saw firsthand the problems that our schools faced and still face. We need more parental and community in volvement. It is also essential that we properly invest in all of our schools. We need to not only improve those schools that need help but make sure that no child or school is penalized for their success. All of our children deserve the same access to resources and equipment so that they can have the best education possible.

3. How do the needs of Rock - away residents differ from those of your mainland constit - uents? And how would you balance the two?

At the end of the day many of the concerns are similar whether for the mainland or for the Rockaways. Every one is worried about the economy and whether they can provide the same life they had for their children. The middle class is under attack through rising taxes and increased fines. What we need is not more of the same but new and innovative solutions. I will be a councilman for the entire district and fight every day for each and every one of my constituents.

4. In your view, what is the most critical quality of life issue facing Rockaway and Broad Chan n el residents?

One of the most important issues facing Broad Channel and Rock - away residents is the lack of effective public transportation. This forces those residents without cars to travel well over an hour to get to work, school or even into Man - hattan. This is why I have unveiled a three point plan to improve public transportation in the Rock aways. This plan includes more express busses, a full time A train to all parts of the Rockaways as well as more and faster ferry boats. More effective public transportation is not a luxury but a necessity.

5. Gun-related crime is a problem even in our quiet district. What is your position on gun control? Should the city have the right to regulate guns, and should the Congress pass more comprehensive gun regulations?

We need greater gun control laws to protect our residents. While the right to bear arms is our constitutional right that does not mean that we cannot take some common sense steps forward to improve the safety of our community. This is why I fully support mandatory jail sentences for those individuals who possess illegal guns. The city needs to have the power to make common sense proposals that will keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

6. A recent court ruling has worried locals that mentally ill people from the area adult homes will be placed to live in residential settings within their neighborhoods. Do you have a plan to address this eventuality and are you in favor of this ruling?

We need to work with all layers of government, city, state and federal to see what can be done about this. It is important that before any action is taken the community is properly consulted. There are significant problems that exist when mentally ill residents are forced to live in neighborhoods without the proper supervision. It is essential that the community works together with their elected officials to ensure that the community is protected.
Scherie Murray (R)
City Council Candidate
31st District
1. With gun violence a frequent way of life on the east end — from Gibson to Redfern, from Far Rock away to the area around Edgemere Houses to Ocean Bay Houses — what is your position on gun control, why and what else — if anything — should be done?

New York has very strict gun control laws, nonetheless crime still happens. Criminals have nothing to fear; they know that the average New Yorker is not armed. This is one of the biggest reasons as to why crime continues to prevail at alarming rates on the east end of Far Rockaway. My position on gun control is based on personal security from a military perspective. New York City's gun control laws should be looked at with new solutions.

2. Concerning surveillance cameras in NYCHA housing, what is your position on the issue and why?

If residents ask for surveillance cameras then we ought to give it to them. We should give them better policing as well. If the cameras are used for surveillance, my position is in favor of the installation. However, let's not fool ourselves into thinking that cameras are really going to stop a crime. A camera can only assist; in real time or after a crime has already been committed. In the moment of danger, surveillance cameras are not going to prevent crime from happening. Better policing would be the first preventative measure. The community needs innovative programs that will keep our youths off the streets.

3. How do you suggest we get control of The Far Rockaway Shop - ping Center located in the business district, in downtown Far Rockaway, from Rita Stark and revitalize it?

The answer is simple, eminent domain. Rita Stark dictates how Down town Far Rockaway looks while playing hardball. The time has come and major changes have to be made to the eyesore known as the Far Rock - away Shopping Center. Rita Stark should concede to the fact; the Far Rockaway Shopping Center is dirty. It simply needs to be revitalized with new solutions or sold at fair market value.

4. Do you have a plan to bring jobs to the area? Explain.

Yes, I want to bring jobs to district 31. My legislative platforms, District Area Network 31 and the Independent Worker Program will create jobs. A state of the art community center in Southeast Queens and another in Far Rockaway creates more job opportunities for the residents of the community. Far Rockaway boasts acres and acres of vacant ocean front property and establishing ferry service or commuter water taxies between Far Rockaway and Manhattan will create jobs and stimulate more economic development within Far Rockaway and throughout Southeastern Queens.

5. Arverne East seems to have stalled. Do you see it going forth and how will you ensure that the developer will hire qualified locals to work on the site?

I agree it has stalled; I do see it going forward, however. Getting locals em - ployed is a great economic opportunity and one of my platforms the In - dependent Worker Program will identify all qualified workers in the district and give them a priority status.

6. A recent court ruling has worried locals that mentally ill people from the area who currently live in adult homes will be placed in residential settings in their neighborhoods. Do you plan to address this eventually? Are you in favor of the ruling and why?

Yes, a plan has to be implemented. The plan would determine what setting is most appropriate for both the mentally ill residents and residents of the community. I am not in favor of this ruling and neither are residents of the community. They expressed their concern at the last Community Board 14 meeting. Research is still being done regarding this matter.

7. How would you suggest improving transportation for residents who live in the east end of Rock - away?

Council District 31 is at another critical disadvantage when it comes to transportation; many areas within the district are in desperate need of new transportation alternatives. The un - derutilized waterway in Far Rock - away is both a lost economic opportunity and a practical transportation alternative. Improve MTA service on the A train by increasing the number of trains to and from Far Rockaway. LIRR monthly customers can transfer to MTA bus and subway lines for free. More rapid bus lines in the morning and evening with dedicated bus lanes and computer-controlled traffic lights are some of the ways we can improve transportation for residents who live on the east end of Far Rockaway.
James Sanders Jr. (D)
New York City Councilman
31st District
1. With gun violence a frequent way of life on the east end — from Gibson to Redfern, from Far Rockaway to the area around Edgemere Houses to Ocean Bay Houses — what is your position on gun control, why and what else — if anything — should be done?

Gun control is a large issue to tackle. In 2002, I sponsored the "Bullet Bill," which prevents anyone under 21 years old from buying bullets. How ever, there is more work to be done. As you already know, the Federal Govern ment has not taken a strong enough stance against the NRA and gun dealers. We must continue to put pressure on them if we are going to stem the proliferation of guns coming in from southern states, which subsequently end up in the hands of a teen in the Rockaways.

2. Concerning surveillance cameras in NYCHA housing, what is your position on the issue and why?

As you already know, I have allocated $2.5 million to the Hammel Houses, $2 million to the Redfern Houses, and $214,000 to the Carleton Manor Houses to ensure our residents can feel safer when they travel in and out of their complex. However, I would be naive to think that cameras are going to solve all issues. It is going to take the community organizing and coming together to really address the violence in our community.

3. How do you suggest we get control of The Far Rockaway Shop ping Center located in the business district, in downtown Far Rockaway, from Rita Stark and revitalize it?

Eminent Domain is a key factor in ensuring that we rebuild this deplorable mall. Sadly, the Mayor has no intent in using it. Therefore, I am interested in the proposal Rita Stark has put forth to the city. The plan calls on the city to pump $8 million into the $16 million project, which I don't object to. In coming days, I will lead on the effort to find the money to get this project moving.

4. Do you have a plan to bring jobs to the area? Explain.

Recently, I sponsored an entrepreneurship program for Rockaway residents who were interested in starting their own business. This program not only taught them the basics of starting a business but provided them with start up money to get their dreams off the ground. The program also aided local businesses in helping to grow their current business. Another plan I have is to resurrect the NYC Works program, which provided job training and placement to the unemployed. This $20 million project aided people all over New York City. I am also fighting to ensure that a vocational school is put in the Rock - aways.

5. Arverne East seems to have stalled. Do you see it going forth and how will you ensure that the developer will hire qualified lo cals to work on the site?

Yes, I foresee this project moving forward. A major reason I believe it slowed up was due to the current market situation. I will continue to ensure this project move's forward expeditiously by smoothing over any roadblocks that government creates. On the issue of ensuring qualified locals work at sites I have solidified the Community Benefits Agreement between the city and the developer to ensure local people are hired.

6. A recent court ruling has worried locals that mentally ill people from the area who currently live in adult homes will be placed in residential settings in their neighborhoods. Do you plan to address this eventually? Are you in favor of the ruling and why?

The Rockaways as a whole has been dumped on for far too long. This is a state issue that I have fought since my first term. Although, I have taken strong stances against these types of facilities, it is the state's responsibility to protect our community from being overburdened.

7. How would you suggest improving transportation for residents who live in the east end of Rock away?

Well for one, ensuring all of our train stations are handicap accessible is the most important priority. Also, ensuring that ferry service is available and accessible to all residents in the Rockaways is important. Lastly, more limited bus and subway service to cut down on the traveling time of Rock away residents. I am a frequent rider of mass transit so understand.

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