She’s no longer the new pol on the block.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D–Williamsburg) is a 21-year incumbent but has served Brooklyn for just one term since a 2012 redistricting put her at the helm of New York’s 12th Congressional District, which includes Greenpoint and a sliver of Williamsburg, as well as swaths of Manhattan and Queens. She is the presumptive winner in the heavily Democratic district, but Republican challenger Nick DiIorio has managed to garner a moderate amount of media attention through relentless needling of Maloney, accusing her of being entrenched and out to lunch. His minor visibility comes despite running on a shoestring budget, $77,000 to Maloney’s $1.3 million.
Asked what she has planned for her Brooklyn constituents in her probable next term, Maloney prefaced her response by pointing out that she didn’t begin representing the area until two years ago, and pointed to just one initiative, encouraging the construction of affordable housing at the long-fallow Greenpoint Hospital site.
“We need to preserve the American dream, and you do that by making sure there is affordable housing,” she said at the Queens offices of the National Herald, a Greek-American newspaper, during an Oct. 30 debate, the only one of the campaign.
She said that she and other pols are pressing Mayor DeBlasio to reopen bidding at the former hospital, which has lain fallow since it closed in 1982. An affordable-housing development scheme for the Greenpoint Hospital site fell apart two years ago when the chosen developer pulled out following the indictment of an executive and the city refused to deal with the second-place bidder. Maloney said that the city should reconsider working with the bidder, the housing advocacy group Saint Nick’s Alliance.
“It’s time to get the project moving forward,” she said, adding that she is interested in getting senior housing built in the area, too.
DiIorio, a financial consultant, claimed that, despite high-profile waterfront developments such as the Domino Sugar factory mega-development and big-name tech company Kickstarter setting up shop in Greenpoint alongside a bevy of startups, the area is suffering economically and it is due to excessive red tape.
“The economic recovery hasn’t made it to North Brooklyn,” DiIorio said. “Williamsburg has a great opportunity to welcome new young people, but that can’t happen if we can’t replace businesses that have fled excessive regulation.”
DiIorio did not back up the diagnosis with statistics and, when asked to explain during a follow-up interview, made a dramatic left turn, calling for federal regulations to protect tenants and saying that a primary economic problem is working-class residents being squeezed out by rising costs.
Also during the debate, Maloney lambasted DiIorio for his lack of political experience, but he retorted that the congresswoman is thin-skinned and claimed that she hid rather than face him throughout most of the lead-up to the election.
“It is unconscionable that Carolyn Maloney has avoided any and all public debates or forums with me,” DiIorio said in the statement.
The statement, issued shortly after DiIorio’s press rep was ejected from the debate for interrupting, accused Maloney of barring press and the public from the event, though two reporters and a photographer were present. However, everyone present appeared to belong to one campaign or the other, and no signs advertising the event were posted outside the newspaper office or the third-floor room where the debate was held.
Maloney had been jumpy about the number of people in the small conference room, and accused the DiIorio campaign of packing it with supporters, but she made no attempt to bar any members of the media. She lamented not coming with more of a posse.
“If I’d known I could bring along 15 of my people I would have,” she said.