The challenger came out swinging against the incumbent at the first debate to determine who will represent Bay Ridge in the City Council.
Ridge Council hopeful John Quaglione blamed Councilman Vincent Gentile for allowing quality of life in Southern Brooklyn to slip on his watch — but the sitting Democrat deflected the blame onto Quaglione’s boss, state Sen. Marty Golden.
Quaglione, a longtime aide and spokesman to Golden (R–Bay Ridge), recalled the halcyon days of 1998–2002 when his boss was in the council. The challenger claimed it was a time when Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, and Dyker Heights did not suffer from the plagues of graffiti, garbage on the streets, street crime, and dilapidated parks. Quaglione laid the blame at the feet of Councilman Gentile (D–Bay Ridge), who he said let the area slide from number one to number 50 out of 51 districts in funding from the City Council. Quaglione also said water bills and property taxes have shot up while Gentile has served.
“Every other neighborhood in the city of New York is getting more of your tax dollars except one,” Quaglione said. “If you believe you should pay more to live in this neighborhood that has come down, vote for Vincent Gentile, I ask you!”
Gentile defended his record in office, pointing out that he voted against property-tax hikes, and claiming to have brought home $13 million in funding for parks, built space for 5,000 seats in local schools, acquired security cameras for high-crime thoroughfares, and recently restored afternoon pick-ups for public trash cans. He also claimed credit for bringing commuter boat service to Manhattan to the commnity.
Gentile also noted that his years as councilman overlapped with Golden’s years as state Senator representing the same neighborhood — and that Golden had likewise failed to address those issues. Gentile served in the state Senate from 1996 until 2002, when he lost his re-election bid to then-Councilman Golden. Gentile then successfully ran for the vacant city seat, and won re-election twice. The two pols have been bitter rivals ever since.
“I’m an elected official, but there’s somebody on this panel who works for an elected official who has not worked on these issues either,” the incumbent said.
Quaglione rebuffed Gentile’s attack, pointing out that he is only an aide, with limited powers.
“I think it’s comical that an elected official, six years in the state Senate, 10 years in the City Council, just blamed a staff member for things he hasn’t done,” the challenger said.