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National issues crowd Ridge assembly debate • Brooklyn Paper

National issues crowd Ridge assembly debate

Facing off: Democratic candidate Pamela Harris, left, and Republican candidate Lucretia Regina-Potter, right, squared off at the Guild for Exceptional Children on Oct. 27 over gun control, the $15 minimum wage, and local issues like illegal home conversions.
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

Questions about national issues dominated a town hall debate between candidates for the 46th Assembly District Lucretia Regina-Potter (R) and Pamela Harris (D) on Oct. 27 — even though neither candidate will have control over such issues an assemblywoman in Albany.

At one point, Regina-Potter lambasted a local involved with the annual Bay Ridge St. Patrick’s Day parade who asked her if she would recant previous comments criticizing Planned Parenthood, a sexual health organization that has come under fire after a thoroughly debunked viral video claimed to depict employees selling aborted fetuses.

“How dare you, you’re supposed to represent the Catholic Church and you’re calling for abortions,” said Regina-Potter.

Attendees asked both candidates their positions on contentious issues like gun control, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the proposed $15 minimum wage, but they didn’t get many clear answers from Harris or Regina-Potter during the hour-long debate, which the Bay Ridge Community Council organized and held at the Guild For Exceptional Children in Bay Ridge.

Debate moderators struggled to maintain order on more than one occasion as passionate crowd members went back and forth with the candidates, but eventually the assembly hopefuls got around to their state-level platforms.

Generally, Harris wants to see more affordable housing for seniors and working folks, and called for the state to pump more funds into services for young Brooklynites and seniors, she said.

She touted her work with her youth-education outfit Coney Island Generation Gap and said she would increase funding for drug treatment centers.

“I visited the drug counseling facility — the one facility you have here — and the resources are sorely lacking,” she said.

Regina-Potter said she get senior citizens easier access to medical care and services that would allow them to stay in their homes. She wants to give New York veterans retirement credit for up to three years of military service and criticized Gov. Cuomo for vetoing such a bill earlier that day.

Both candidates called for a crackdown on the illegal home conversions.

“I would like the utility companies to be fined for putting 10 or 15 meters on a house and not notifying the Department of Buildings … I know that they’re in business but they have to respect the neighborhood,” she said.

But Harris took shots at Regina-Potter for being entrenched in the political machine. Regina-Potter is the Republican District Leader for the 46th District and has ran in five elections in the past nine years, but has yet to secure a victory.

“I may not be that career politician, but I’m grass roots,” Harris said.

The two are after the vacant seat left by nine-year Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny, who resigned in July, prompting a special election scheduled for Nov. 3. The winner of the special election will serve the rest of Brook-Krasny’s term, which ends Dec. 31, 2016.

Reach reporter Dennis Lynch at (718) 260–2508 or e-mail him at dlynch@cnglocal.com.

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