Democratic candidate and frontrunner Melinda Katz and Republican challenger Tony Arcabascio discussed their visions for the borough.
Katz has openly discussed her plan to create jobs throughout Queens by targeting certain neighborhoods for development. For instance, at the debate on Thursday she mentioned her desire to bring an “anchor tenant” to the Rockaways in an attempt to bring other businesses to the area, while looking at Western Queens as a tech hub.
“Long Island City is an unbelievable resource when it comes to the technology industry,” said Katz.
“Katz always refers to technology, and I have 34 years of experience in technology,” said Arcabascio. “I will tell you that graduates, although they may be bright and intelligent, will come out with quite a bit of loan debt. So I’m not so sure they’re going to work in tech centers or start their own start-ups.”
He has discussed in interviews that he wishes to create a theater district in Queens and revive the Rockaways’ Playland to create jobs and stimulate the economy.
Arcabascio said he will use the two airports as leverage to get more funding from the city.
“We can certainly make a case to get more money from the city,” he said. “We are the windows to New York City, because we’re the first borough that anyone sees.”
Arcabascio was also critical of elected officials in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, saying that $4 million should not have been spent on bathrooms and more focus should have been on ensuring the safety of residents.
“It’s a lot easier to criticize government than to come up with a plan,” said Katz, adding that one of the biggest mistakes new candidates make is discussing issues “to avoid other issues.”
The debate got heated when Arcabascio went off-script in his closing remarks and said that Katz sent out a letter to Queens voters painting him as “the evil Republican.” In the mailer, he was criticized as being focused on helping the “one percent.”
“Melinda, to be quite honest, unless you’re talking about the one percent which happens to be one percent of the successful sons of immigrants that work very hard and get an education and stand here today opposing the Queens Democratic machine candidate, yeah, I’m part of that one percent,” he said.
“I’m not an evil Republican,” said Arcabascio. “I don’t owe any favors.”