Monday night's Bronxtalk debate between the candidates of the 33rd State Senate District started off by host Gary Axelbank apologizing to viewers that incumbent 33rd State Senator Pedro Espada Jr. would not be participating in the debate, and that Espada was exhibiting a lack respect for the voters of the 33rd State Senate District. Axelbank added that Espada didn't even have the decency to respond to any of his correspondences. Senator Espada told me that he would have no problem debating on the corner or on television when I asked him at a previous press conference, and I guess the voters should take Senator Espada for his word, which seems to be questionable.
The debate for the 33rd State Senate District went on without Espada, as J. Gustavo Rivera and Dan Padernacht began with host Axelbank questioning candidate Padernacht on his candidacy saying "aren't you playing a spoiler in this race"? Padernacht replied with "that is the hype Mr. Rivera is playing, trying to dissuade my supporters and steal my votes away". Padernacht added that his family has lived in the district for over 60 years, and that he (Padernacht) was part of the team that challenged Espada on his residency two years ago.
Candidate Rivera mentioned his endorsements from unions and elected officials including BP Diaz Jr. and Assemblyman Dinowitz, to which Padernacht asked "why did BP Diaz and Dinowitz wait so long to endorse you"? Padernacht added his community involvement from fighting the water filtration plant to a proposed methadone clinic in the district. On the question of community involvement Mr. Rivera said that he has lived in the district for 10 years in a rent stabilized apartment, and helped on the Obama campaign. When Padernacht asked Rivera to talk about his community involvement, Rivera countered with his work for the state senate helping to make for a democratic majority.
When questioned that he is a lawyer for realtor's Padernacht said that his father helped organize the tenants of the Sholom Aleichem Houses, and that is how he was brought up to help people. Padernacht added that he went to law school, and that he, his mother, his brother, and his grandmother all live in rent stabilized apartments. Rivera said that he helped elect State Senator Cousins (D-Yonkers) who want to get rid of the Erstead law, but Senator Espada is the chair of the Senate Housing Committee who will not let that happen. Padernacht replied that he was in court this morning defending a tenants rights, and said that he is well versed in the law and knows what has to be done in Albany.
National health care came up with both Rivera and Padernacht agreeing that more has to be done at the local level, including incentives for people to remain healthy.
When Rivera brought up the Kingsbridge Armory during the job creation question, Padernacht said that Rivera was not involved in the armory issue, and again challenged Rivera to discuss how he has been involved in the 33rd district.
When Rivera repeated that unions such as 1199 and the UFT have endorsed him, Padernacht countered that it was the political units of the unions that have endorsed and that the membership would probably vote for him.
On the question of Mayoral Control of the public schools Rivera said that some aspects have worked, while Padernacht said that Mayoral Control has been a failure as seen by the recent test scores.
In closing statements Padernacht continued his argument that Mr. Rivera was trying to sway Padernacht supporters, and potential Padernacht voters away with the spoiler issue repeating that he (Padernacht) will win the election. Padernacht ended by saying that he is on Community Board #8, that you see him in the community, and will always see him in the community.
In Mr. Rivera's closing statement, he stated the lack of concern by the current state senator, and said that "I want to work for you".
After the debate Mr. Rivera told me that he brought out the facts about Pedro Espada Jr. that the senator needed to be called out on. Mr. Padernacht said that there was no reason to hack Espada, that he wanted to bring out his community involvement, and Mr. Rivera's lack of community involvement.
I give the Bronxtalk debate to Dan Padernacht for presenting excellent reasons as to why he deserves to get the vote of the people, while J. Gustavo Rivera could only rattle off endorsements and knock the incumbent Perdro Espada Jr., not that Espada didn't deserve it.