Countdown to Primary Election Day and the candidates for City Council District 27 continue to get in front of residents to plead their case. This time the focus was issues of concern to the senior population. In a forum, sponsored by AARP, the questions and participants were geared to those 50 and over.
Candidates present included Manny Caughman, Joan Flowers, Gregory Mays, I.Daneek Miller, Sondra Peeden and Clyde Vanel. The forum was moderated by Roy Paul.
Candidates discussed their record of connecting with seniors, what policies they would enact, outreach to seniors and their stance on age discrimination. Candidates also focused some discussion on what Mayor Bloomberg has done right and wrong during his tenure for seniors.
Manny spoke to helping seniors with section eight housing and loan modifications. He spoke to his work as a liaison for Scarborough and the senior excursions he had a part in, including bowling. Joan Flowers spoke to volunteering in her capacity as a lawyer with estate planning and generation wealth transfer. She spoke to the silver sneakers exercise program at the gym owned by her family.
Candidate Mays spoke to wanting to take advantage of the wisdom of the seniors. He spoke about his program which couples seniors with children to help enhance their reading skills. I. Daneek Miller spoke of sponsoring bus trips and the like, but focused on his role as a union President and protecting benefits which are constantly under attack. Sondra Peeden spoke to senior retreats and newsletters but moreso the desire to teach seniors how to lobby, how their burdens should be lessen, on them and their children citing the cost of prescription medicine. Candidate Vanel spoke to his office being a place where seniors are able to use it freely as a resource. He also spoke to fighting against reverse mortgage.
Candidates were in agreement that Bloomberg did not do well for seniors during his term and the need for dedicated funding. Mays was the only candidate that highlighted some items of merit, despite what he called obvious failures, during the Bloomberg tenure. That included the use of technology and increased efficiency of the Department of Aging. That brought up the subject of 311 and Mays conceded the system was good “as opposed to what we had before, nothing,” he said. Flowers quickly countered that the system was faulty and that she hears a long string of complaints from people who call with complaints that go nowhere.
Policies the candidates would look into during their time in office mostly centered around the subject of housing foreclosures and maintaining and creating affordable housing and addressing levels of water bills. Many candidates sited the need for outreach to seniors
“[There are] resources folks are not aware of,” said Peeden, speaking of the shared housing policy.
All candidates were against age discrimination, bullying and forced retirement practices and would work to make sure the laws supporting such practices were enforced.
On the subject of senior caregivers, candidates were in agreement that professional caregivers should have a living wage.
The subject of campaign funding was the only non-senior issue to hit the floor. Vanel brought the issue out in his opening statement referencing the amount of negative mailers being sent out about him as a bad business man. He believed those mailers was due to the large amount of funding by other candidates, but Vanel did not name the opposing candidates benefiting from the money. Participants were in agreement that they have been receiving a lot of election mailers.
Manny has received a substantial donation to his campaign from the Political Action Campaign (PAC) Jobs for New York and, prior to the forum, he spoke to that donation. “They choose me because of my record,” he said of money he did not solicit for his campaign. Miller, who has substantial funds in his campaign bank, spoke to the issue of money after the forum. “[It] perverted the process" he said of the large PAC contribution. Miller noted that his contributions are comprised of those raised in the community. He said that the issue of money is a "candidate with no platform making an issue out of a non issue," Miller said.
The event was held at York college. The American Association for Retired Persons, AARP, has been holding similar candidate forums throughout the boroughs.