2013-08-09 / Top Stories

Bill Thompson Wants Rockaway’s Vote For Mayor

Walks Back Flood Plains Statement
By Kevin Boyle

Mayoral candidate Bill Thompson visits The Wave. Photo by Dan Guarino. Mayoral candidate Bill Thompson visits The Wave. Photo by Dan Guarino. William (Bill) Thompson is running for Mayor and wants Rockaway support. Thompson, who ran against Mayor Bloomberg in 2009, came to The Wave on Monday to make his case. In early July, a Wave editorial had blasted the candidate for saying there should be “no rebuilding on flood plains.” It was a statement The Wave took great exception to because most of Rockaway will be remapped into a flood zone. Thompson’s statement, The Wave wrote, was “sweeping” and drew no distinction between regularly flooded areas like Oakwood Beach in Staten Island and Rockaway.

Thompson said he “appreciated the challenge” of the editorial and wanted to clarify his position. He said he did not believe “one size fits all” when it comes to buy-outs and rebuilding. He acknowledged the different sentiments between the people of Staten Island who favor buy-outs and the great majority of people in Rockaway who wish to stay. And though he prefers Governor Cuomo’s buy-out plan which turns purchased property into park land or open space, he said the city “can make adjustments” and not be locked into one approach.

And although he prefers Cuomo’s strategy, he would not allow “one person in the middle of the block” who wants a buy-out to receive one. He says it doesn’t make sense to have “parkland here, and parkland there” and he won’t “undercut the community.”

As for Rockaway’s isolation, Thompson acknowledged the “difficulty in transportation” for Rockaway commuters. He went on record saying the Rockaway ferry should stay. If the current mayor suspends service after Labor Day, Thompson said he would reinstate service on January 2nd, the day after he takes office.

Thompson said expanding the service is something he’d like to explore. He inadvertently praised ferry advocate Joe Hartigan when he said it was a “good idea whoever came up with starting the ferry at the airport. Tourists could help pay for the subsidy. And there’s no question it’s a good way to get to the city from the airport.”

When asked about the transition between administration and how the departure of some city officials might slow rebuilding, Thompson said he expects to bring in his own team and name a Deputy Mayor of Infrastructure on “day one.” He said there is the possibility of keeping some commissioners or appointees but it will be “the exception rather than the rule.”

Thompson’s visit to The Wave came just days after he completed a 24 hour, round-the-clock campaign push that he said was surprisingly invigorating and allowed him the chance to meet overnight workers and others who rarely get the chance to meet candidates.

On other matters, he believes his administration will be more receptive and responsive to local concerns than the Bloomberg regime and will establish a “tone” that allows for better communication between City Hall and neighborhoods. He would like to increase funding for community boards and reinstitute town halls. Thompson said the Bloomberg administration has tried to “centralize’ too much and that some people, such as Police Commissioner Ray Kelly “micromanage.”

Before Primary Day on September 10th, Thompson is expected to submit an op-ed piece to The Wave further detailing his position on rebuilding and fighting flood insurance premiums.

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