Citing promises kept and promising future crusades to improve the quality of life in the 60th Assembly District, a first-term assemblymember met with Brooklyn residents to ask for their support as she runs for re-election.
Assemblymember Janele Hyer-Spencer, whose district includes a portion of Bay Ridge as well as a section of Staten Island near the Verrazano Bridge, had the opportunity to address constituents at a candidate’s forum held recently in Dyker Heights, at which her opponent, Republican Joe Cammarata, also appeared.
The forum was sponsored by the Bay Ridge Real Estate Board, and held at Sirico’s Caterers, 8023 13th Avenue.
“I came before you two years ago,” Hyer-Spencer recalled, “and one of the things I promised was that, for the first time in a decade, if I were elected to this office, you would have a free-standing office in Bay Ridge. You have a fully staffed, fully functional office, and I made sure I put Bay Ridgites in the office to make sure Bay Ridge concerns are heard and understood.”
Other planks of the platform she ran on, two years ago, included improvements to education and health care, as well as to the general quality of life, Hyer-Spencer reminded her listeners. “I promised that I would be a vociferous advocate for health care that was a right, not a privilege,” she noted.
In meeting the commitments she had made, Hyer-Spencer said, she had worked on the extension of Child Health Plus, for the “largest expansion” the program had ever experienced. That was, she said, “A large first step in ensuring that we fix health care for children.”
She had also “authored and drafted legislation for increasing income eligibility limits” for the EPIC prescription drug program for seniors and “we did see some expansion,” Hyer-Spencer told the group.
In the arena of education, Hyer-Spencer said, “I made a very strong stand and was able to secure, with the help of my colleagues, $1.3 billion in state funding for education that met the mandate for the Council for Fiscal Equity.” In addition, she told the crowd, she had worked to prevent “dramatic” increases in tuition at SUNY and CUNY schools, as well as to preserve the TAP program. “I made sure I was a voice at the table so we did not trash TAP,” Hyer-Spencer noted.
In the area of domestic violence legislation, Hyer-Spencer said, “We changed some of the antiquated statutes in the state so we really are bringing domestic violence legislation into this century.
As for Cammarata, he told the crowd that he was a Vietnam veteran. He also, he said, was a retired police detective, with 20 years on the job. He has also worked as a teacher, a businessman and a realtor, he told the group.
“There’s not an issue that hasn’t touched my life that’s important to the people of New York State,” Cammarata asserted.
He recalled that he had met one woman while campaigning who said she thought he would, “be around 90 years old, with all the things I’d done in my life.”
In the arena of education, Cammarata said, “I was in the classroom. I made the lesson plans. We don’t need much smaller classrooms. We don’t need much bigger buildings. We got to bring back discipline. We need to get rid of the troublemakers. Let’s get rid of the bad apples and bring back the good kids.”
As for the security, he contended, “With 35 years total service, I can handle homeland security. You talk about crime, families. Let’s get the cop back on the beat.”
He said he understood the issues facing today’s families. “At one time, I held five jobs to put my kids through school,” Cammarata recalled.
He also shares the concerns of today’s senior citizens, Cammarata said. “On June 2nd,” he told the group, “I joined their ranks.”
In visiting Brooklyn, Cammarata said, he was “back home.”