By Andrea Karshan
EDITOR’S NOTE: As part of an on-going series, KCP is asking candidates running for state office in the upcoming Sept. 13 primary about issues that matter and that are being debated in Albany.
In the 44th Assembly District, there are four candidates running for the seat left vacant by the recent retirement of longtime Assemblyman James Brennan. They are Robert “Bobby” Carroll, Troy Odendhal and Robert Curry-Smithson on the Democratic Party side, andGlenn Nocera is running unopposed on the Republican side. Additionally, Carroll has the Working Families Party line on the ballot and Nocera has the Conservative Party line on the ballot.
The district includes the neighborhoods of Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Greenwood Heights, Kensington, Ditmas Park and part of Borough Park.
KCP’s question for the candidates was as follows:
Part of the New York State Assembly Members’ job description calls on them to serve on different committees, commissions and task forces. If you get elected to the assembly what two committees, commissions and task forces would you want to sit on and why?
Robert Carroll: “If I am elected to the New York State Assembly I would like to serve on the Education Committee; Corporations, Authorities and Commissions Committee; Housing Committee; and Election Law Committee. I would like to serve on the Education Committee because I believe I can be a thoughtful advocate for our NYC Public Schools and ensure that we have equitable funding and stop excessive testing. As someone who went to Public School and whose mother is an NYC Public School teacher education is very important to me.
“I would like to serve on the Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions Committee because it oversees important state agencies like the MTA and Port Authority, as well as, for profit and non-profit corporations.
“Affordable Housing is a major concern all over New York and as someone who has done affordable housing work as a lawyer and has outlined a detailed housing plan for New York on my website it is an issue I would like to help tackle.
“Finally, I would like to serve on the Election Law Committee, an area of law I specialize in, because it is essential that we liberalize our ballot access and voting laws. However, there are many important committees in the New York State Assembly including the Judiciary Committee. the Committee on Aging, and the Labor Committee, and I would be honored to serve on any of these committees and many others. We need full-time Assembly Members who will work for the people of their district and no matter what committees I serve on I will do just that.”
Troy Odendhal: “As a State Assembly member, I would like to serve on the Ways and Means and Housing Committees. The Ways and Means Committee is responsible for state revenues and disbursements with state and local finance. One of my major priorities as an Assembly member would be to advocate for the passage of amended stock transfer tax legislation to fund housing, health and education programs so desperately needed by the working families of my district and across New York State. Each year the State collects billions of dollars from stock transactions and then immediately rebates the taxes levied under the current stock transfer tax system. During the financial recovery, this has amounted to as much as $16 billion a year. I would fight the repeal of the tax proposed in Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget and in its place see the State keep these revenues to expand affordable housing, education access and fund a single-payer health insurance program.
“In the Housing Committee I would advocate for the passage of legislation that would protect and create truly affordable housing to keep working families in their homes. This would include: passage of a 2017 Emergency Tenant Protection Act which would require a 5-year rent freeze on all rent regulated apartments, all housing built with tax incentives after January 1, 2017 would have a 40 percent mandatory affordable units requirement based upon zip code affordability data; increased luxury taxes on property sold over $1 million, additional funding for the Division of Housing and Community Renewal to advance enforcement of current housing regulations; free legal representation for all rent regulated tenants in Housing Court, and establishment of minimum abatements for HPD verified housing violations.
“Governor Cuomo likes to claim broke, but there are resources currently at our disposal within the State so that if we use fair, progressive taxation we can fund the programs that will protect the long-term health and sustainability of our communities. As an Assembly member, these are the types of fair policies for which I would staunchly advocate regardless of which committee I may have the honor to serve upon.”
Rob Curry-Smithson: “I would want to serve on the Education Committee and the Higher Education Committee. I think that my perspective and expertise as a public school teacher would be valuable on these committees. I understand many of the complications of implementing policies at the school and classroom level, as well as the priorities that teachers have. For example, while the vast majority of teachers and parents have listed lowering class sizes as a priority, we have seen policy makers create a system that funnels money away from the classroom and towards administration and standardized testing. I also have made it a top issue of my campaign platform to empower teachers and parents and to support our public schools, including making CUNY and SUNY free for all New Yorkers. No one will fight harder for students from pre-k through college than I will on these committees.”
Glenn Nocera: “If I’m elected to the New York State Assembly from the 44th AD, I would like to serve on the veterans committee and the education committee. New York City has a large homeless veteran population and we need to do more and we need to do better for our forgotten heroes that are sleeping on our park benches and in our shelters.There needs to be more support in mental health funding for these forgotten veterans who are suffering on a wide scale from PTSD.
“When it comes to serving on the education committee I would like to be an advocate for expanding our charter schools and support legislation for school vouchers better known as (school choice) so that a parent has the choice to send their children to a non failing school that might be in their community. There is choice when it comes to abortion but there seems to be no choice when it comes to educating our children who wasn’t aborted.”
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