Coney council candidates clashed over who brought the most jobs to the People’s Playground when they faced off at a debate on June 13.
Three of the candidates aiming to replace term-limited Councilman Domenic Recchia (D–Coney Island) — community activist Todd Dobrin, aide to Assemblyman Bill Colton (D–Bensonhurst) Mark Treyger, and Pastor Connis Mobley of the United Community Baptist Church — tangled over who had done the most to ease chronic unemployment in the impoverished residential section of the neighborhood.
Treyger told the audience in the auditorium of PS 329 at W. 30th Street and Mermaid Avenue that, as a teacher at New Utrecht High School in Bensonhurst, he had helped create a program to train students from Coney Island to become lifeguards on the beach. But that drew a sharp retort from Dobrin, who claimed that the initiative was started by his group, Friends of the Boardwalk.
“That’s a very old program. We started it 30 years ago,” said Dobrin.
But an irate Treyger denied that his program any connection to the Friends of the Boardwalk initiative.
“I’m not saying it didn’t exist, but I never heard of it,” Treyger fired back.
Dobrin also butted heads with Mobley after the minister claimed to have gotten Luna Park to hire 125 neighborhood youth. Dobrin argued that the jobs in the amusement district did not provide enough money or opportunities for advancement.
“Are these long-term jobs with prevailing wages and career paths?” demanded Dobrin. “Or are they just ‘here’s a service job for a minute or two?’ ”
Mobley responded that he had also helped more than 200 Coney Islanders get certification from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to work on scaffolding.
“We have helped our people get the training they need to find work to provide for their families,” Mobley said.
The debate was the brainchild of the People’s Coalition of Coney Island — an umbrella group of community organizations that has controversially claimed that post-Sandy recovery has unfairly focused on the amusement district at the expense of year-round residents.
Two other candidates also participated in the forum, but didn’t contribute to the verbal fireworks over jobs.
John Lisyanskiy, a former aide to Council Speaker Christine Quinn is competing with Treyger, Dobrin, and Mobley for the Democratic nomination in the September. Construction worker Andy Sullivan is the lone Republican in the race to represent the district that spans Seagate and Coney Island, along with parts of Gravesend, Bensonhurst, and Bath Beach.