One night, two debates, many issues


| tcullen@queenscourier.com |

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen
THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

Councilmember Eric Ulrich and State Senator faced off in back-to-back debates on Thursday, October 18 in Howard Beach and Middle Village.

In a matter of hours, at two separate debates, incumbent State Senator Joseph Addabbo and Councilmember Eric Ulrich argued over issues including stop-and-frisk and discretionary funds, while both agreed on more help for small businesses — albeit through varying means.

The first debate, at Our Lady of Grace in Howard Beach on Thursday, October 18, saw Ulrich and Addabbo both announce their support of stop-and-frisk — recently discussed by the city council — but Ulrich alleged his opponent had flip-flopped on his support of the issue.

When asked his stance on the NYPD’s policy, Addabbo said he supported it, adding that he had not backed a bill in the senate that would water down the policy.

“I said I couldn’t support those bills, I am for stop-and-frisk,” he said. “It’s a good tool for our police to use. It has a direct correlation to a decrease in crime. We need to help our police officers out there, they put their lives on the line with reduced resources.”

Following Addabbo’s statement, Ulrich brought up a roll-call vote from more than two years ago in which his opponent voted for a policy that he said was against stop-and-frisk.

“I support [Police Commissioner] Ray Kelly, the members of the NYPD and stop-and-frisk,” Ulrich said. “I have a roll call of the votes from June 23, 2010 here, which a bill that weakened stop-and-frisk, prevented law enforcement from retaining information from the people who were stopped, questioned and frisked, and you’re listed as one of the 32 yes votes.”

Addabbo reasserted that he supported stop-and-frisk; the vote in which Ulrich referred to dealt with questioning, he said.

“It had to do with questioning, not stop-and-frisk,” Addabbo said. “Now let’s set the issue right. Stop-and-frisk: I am for it.”

Jobs and small business, a concern in elections at many levels this year, have particularly been a worry throughout the district. The two acknowledged that businesses, particularly on Cross Bay Boulevard, had been faltering and suggested different means to save, expand or begin businesses.

Ulrich said that if elected senator, he would support a corporate franchise tax cut that would lower taxes on business owners from 6.5 percent to 5.2 percent. He also suggested looking at current banking regulations in the city for business owners looking for loans to either stay balanced or move forward.

“One of the other things we’ve talked about is the difficulty many small businesses have in accessing loans and capital, either to keep themselves afloat or to expand their businesses,” Ulrich said. He went on to say Albany should look at, and fix, some of the problems blocking business owners from getting loans “so they can keep themselves open for business and obviously keep their employees on the payroll.”

Addabbo said there was currently money in the state budget to help new businesses get started and lower costs, and that he has worked to try and relieve some of the utility costs on small business owners. This included working with National Grid and Con Edison to see what energy prices could be reduced to save money.

“I shop on Cross Bay Boulevard,” he said. “We need these stores on Cross Bay Boulevard; they are the life blood of our community.”

— With additional reporting by Melissa Chan