The Race for the 11th Council District
The following numbered questions respond to the numbered responses of the candidates below. The questions were presented in writing to the candidates by the Norwood News and they responded in writing. Their answers appear in full and have been edited only in a few instances for clarity.
1. If you are elected to the City Council, will it be your only job or do you plan on holding another position as well?
2. What are your three top priorities? What specific proposals do you have concerning these priorities?
3. The Norwood News has reported on the deteriorating state of Williamsbridge Oval Park. As an elected official, what improvements would you propose for the park? How much funding would you allot to renovate the park?
4. Park groups have proposed designating one percent of the annual city budget toward parks. Do you support this proposal?
5. Though it is not in District 11, the redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory will have an impact on the entire northwest Bronx. What kind of development do you support in the Kingsbridge Armory? Do you support the construction of schools, stores, recreational facilities or other type of construction? Be specific.
6. How do you propose to help solve the overcrowding problem in School District 10? How much money is required for your proposal, and where will the money come from?
7. Where will you have your district office? If it is not in Norwood or Bedford Park, how do you propose to represent your constituents equally to those in the community where you open your office?
Name/Age: Terry Anne Bastone, 51 Education: BA Political Science, Lehman College Employer: N/A
Past Employment: District Manager for Congressman Eliot L. Engel, District Aide to NYS Senator Franz S. Leichter, District Aide to Councilwoman June M. Eisland
Other experience: President of the Kingsbridge Gardens Tenants Association (15 yrs.); Co-Chair of St. Gabriel Parish Chapter of the Riverdale Interfaith Habitat for Humanity; Board of members of the Interfaith Caregivers of the Northwest Bronx, and the Kingsbridge District Management Association. Former board member of Riverdale Neighborhood House and the Kingsbridge-Riverdale-Van Cortlandt Development Corporation; Currently a Democratic District Leader in the 81st Assembly District.
1. I will be a full-time council member.
2. Three top priorities:
Education: The education crisis did not happen overnight. Anyone promising "quick fixes" is merely pandering for votes. Improving our kids' education is a difficult and long- term project but one that we must accomplish. We must have accountability if our children are to succeed in school. Our teachers need better pay, resources and ability to discipline. Teachers and students deserve an environment free of fear and intimidation in which to teach and learn. I will fight for legislation and budgetary allotments that address these goals.
We need stronger community policing, and our precincts deserve a full complement of officers at all times. The men and women of our police department put their lives on the line for us every day, they deserve a healthier and productive relationship with everyone. By the same measure, we must weed out the small number of bad cops that ruin the reputation of the force.
Housing: I've been fighting for tenants since the 1980s and I will continue to fight for tenants as a member of the Council. I've traveled to Albany and sat-in at the Republican Majority Leader's office, nearly getting arrested, protesting the State Senate's failure to protect tenants rights. We need to allocate money in the budget to build affordable housing and repair the existing stock. We must repeal luxury decontrol.
3. Williamsbridge Oval Park. For the past few weeks I have been trying to bring to the media the problems facing the Oval Park. I agree with the 1% of the budget for the Parks Department. The Oval needs a complete overhaul from seeding to the crumbling concrete. The Oval is a place of daily enjoyment for the people in Norwood and should be restored to the magnificence it once held.
4. 1% for Parks. Yes I do.
5. Kingsbridge Armory. I support the construction of schools and recreational facilities at the Armory.
6. Overcrowding. I would like to see more schools built. Without having a plan and/or cost estimates, I can't give an honest answer.
7. Office location. I would like to locate my office as centrally to the district as I can. I would like it to be accessible by train and bus. If this is not possible I will share desk space in a community center or other office in the district to accommodate constituents. I strongly believe in accessibility.
Name/Age: G. Oliver Koppell, 60
Education: Bronx Public Schools; Bronx High School of Science; Harvard College; Harvard Law School
Occupation: Attorney, Law Offices of G. Oliver Koppell & Associates
Past Employment: Member of Assembly, 1970-1993; Attorney General of New York State, 1994; associate partner of a number of law firms.
Other Experience: Currently President, Community School Board 10, Bronx.
1. My City Council position will be my primary occupation. I plan to continue to practice law on a limited basis.
2. Three top priorities.
Improvement of public education: I am a strong supporter of increased funding for our public schools. A first priority is to increase the salaries of our teaching staff. We must also increase the monies available for capital construction since overcrowding is a major problem in District 10.
Environmental Protection: I am a vehement opponent of building a filtration plant in either Van Cortlandt Park or next to the Jerome Park Reservoir. I will use my position as a city councilman to oppose such a project. I also will strongly support increased funding for our parks. I support the one percent initiative for our parks that has been proposed by parks advocates.
Additional Affordable housing: We must improve housing code enforcement so that housing stock that we do have is properly maintained. We must also devote city and other available resources to the building of additional affordable housing.
3. Williamsbridge Oval Park. Williamsbridge Oval Park needs a complete rehabilitation. I do not have a specific number for funding. What is needed is the drafting of a comprehensive plan to renovate and improve the park. Only then can a budget be established.
4. 1% for Parks. I support the one percent of the city budget being allocated towards parks.
5. Kingsbridge Armory. I strongly support the full rehabilitation of the Kingsbridge Armory with the allocation of substantial space for the construction of schools. At least one and perhaps two schools should be developed on the site. In addition, the Armory should be developed and used as a high quality athletic and recreational facility. I believe that the Armory should be a magnet providing athletic opportunities to the population of the entire Bronx. With the priorities of education and recreation taken care of, I would support some commercial development that will help finance the reconstruction and maintenance of the facility.
6. Overcrowding. I am well aware of the overcrowding of our schools as president of Community School Board 10. It is necessary for the Council to devote additional resources both for leasing of new facilities and the construction of additional schools. The next capital plan for the Board of Education must provide increased resources. Some creative approaches should also be used toward school construction. Combined facilities including housing or commercial space and schools should be explored.
7. Office location. I have not chosen a location for my district office. I hope to make the district office as convenient as possible to all the communities in the district. I will also explore the possibility of having a mobile district office as an adjunct to my principal district office. The mobile office (a van or bus) would have a regular schedule and visit each of the communities in my district on a weekly basis.
Name/Age: Laura Spalter, 52
Education: B.A. Lehman College; M.A. Adelphi University
Occupation: Social Studies teacher, Isobel Rooney Middle School 80
Other experience: Riverdale Neighborhood House, Youth Program Coordinator and Agency for Child Development Supervisor
Volunteer experience: Intern for Councilwoman June Eisland; president, Riverdale Community Association; chair, Environment and Sanitation Committee of Community Board 8; founding member, Norwood Against Graffiti; youth chair, 50th Precinct Community Council; board member, Riverdale Nature Preservancy, Kiwanis Club of Riverdale, Bronx Advisory Committee to the Hudson River Greenway; Toastmasters International, founding member of Bronx Club
1. The needs of such a large district demand a full-time councilperson. I am committed to serving the constituents full-time.
2. Three top priorities:
Improving Education: As a teacher in Norwood, I recognize the need to lower class size and increase interventions for at-risk students, particularly in the early grades. To stem the exodus of teachers to the suburbs we must raise teacher salaries and improve the academic climate. Too much valuable time is spent by teachers and administrators on a small number of truly disruptive students who steal time from students who come to school to learn. We need to fund and implement appropriate systems that address the problem. We also need to educate the whole child - bring back art, music, and other enrichment programs. Finally, the local high school options are limited. We should look at rezoning Manhattan students out of John F. Kennedy High School to create special programs, and opening it to more students from Isobel Rooney Middle School 80, who are currently zoned for Evander Childs High School.
Public Safety: I will push for increased community policing so that communities know their beat officers. I have already met with 52nd Precinct Deputy Inspector Rooney about replicating the 50th Precinct Court Monitoring Program, which I initiated to fight car theft five years ago. The program works because the community supports the police by attending court dates and demanding that the judge sentence career criminals appropriately. Otherwise, cops and residents are demoralized when arrests are made, but the defendant is out the next day doing the same thing.
Quality of Life: As president of a civic association, I have spent years successfully tackling quality of life problems- garbage, graffiti, noisy bars, and over development. This district needs more enforcement of the city's laws for infractions ranging from violation of the Pooper Scooper Law to code violations by landlords. I will allocate more money to city agencies for code enforcement, and use the Council's oversight powers to make sure that agencies use those funds for enforcement. I am also committed to strengthening our rent stabilization protections for tenants, and keeping a filtration plant out of the Bronx. I organized a five-borough lobbying effort by civic groups against building the filtration plant in Van Cortlandt Park, and testified before the City Council and City Planning Commission. It's time to revisit the consent decree.
3. Williamsbridge Oval Park. I have enjoyed participating in community greenups with my students at Williamsbridge Oval Park. The park is heavily used, and I will advocate renovating the football field and track. Work is also needed on the slopes to overcome erosion. I would allocate about half a million dollars each year under a five year capital plan.
4. 1% for Parks. Parks are our children's front and back yards, and provide health and recreational benefits to all our residents. I am proud to be the first candidate in the Bronx to sign on to the Parks 2001 Pledge to dedicate 1% of the City budget to park maintenance. Safe and well maintained parks stabilize communities.
5. Kingsbridge Armory. Because of dire overcrowding, I support schools and recreation facilities in the armory. Kingsbridge Road is an inappropriate site for "big box store" commercial development.
6. Overcrowding. As a teacher, I know that children learn best in smaller classes.
Unfortunately, there has been a lack of planning to build new schools in District 10. In addition to actively seeking sites, we must use existing Board of Education land wisely. We must never resort to the use of temporary classrooms (transportable trailers) where real multi-story additions can be built. For example, the "temporary" mini school at PS 56 should be replaced by a two- or three-story early childhood building. Such a plan accomplishes two purposes. We can reduce class size and return the kindergarten children who are being bused to a school on Tremont Ave. to their neighborhood school. We should commit to building "fast track" permanent school buildings on existing space. Funds for class size reduction that are lost to city children can be used for construction. There is a need for a comprehensive study to examine zoning and feeder school patterns and demographics so that adequate planning can take place. Every child in the state should receive his or her fair share of the capital budget for new schools from our federal, state, and city tax dollars. It is equality by budget, and I will fight for our fair share.
7. Office location. I have not determined where my office will be, but it will be accessible by public transportation. I will rotate one-stop office units at social service organizations or senior centers throughout the district. I feel strongly that every resident of the district must have access to constituent services.
Name/Age: Mark Vogel, 28
Education: B.A. in Political Science, Queens College
Occupation/Employer: Former Aide to Assembly Member Richard Gottfried
1. I will work full time in the City Council.
2. Top priorities:
Government Access and Accountability - I will make the City Council office more accessible to the public. I will hold bi-annual Town Hall meetings, conduct an annual District Needs Survey and issue a District Needs Report, and I will issue an Annual Constituent Service Report. One of the reasons I decided to run for City Council was because I was tired of being represented by arrogant elected officials. I have worked in government and have seen a lot of good things, but I am also displeased with the lack of respect some elected officials have towards the job and their constituents. If elected, I hope that I never forget that I was elected to serve the people, and not serve my own interests.
Education - As the son of a public school teacher, education is an issue I care deeply about. I know firsthand how poorly teachers are paid and how the lack of respect for the profession is a deterrent to attracting qualified people. Every child deserves an excellent education. Making sure they get one must be our top priority.
Economic Development - I will work to improve the shopping district on Jerome Avenue by encouraging the city to paint the elevated subway platform of the No. 4 line. I will encourage merchants to use rolling grill security gates instead of solid roll-up gates, which provide a surface for vandals to create graffiti on.
3. Williamsbridge Oval Park. One of my top priorities will be to renovate Williamsbridge Oval Park. I will form a Williamsbridge Oval Park task force comprised of Norwood residents and community activists. At least $500,000 should be allocated to fix broken walkways and stone walls and to improve landscaping.
4. 1% for Parks. I support the proposal to designate one percent of the annual city budget toward parks.
5. Kingsbridge Armory. The residents and merchants near the Kingsbridge Armory must work with their council member on the redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory. If it were located in my district I would encourage a plan to develop a magnet type school that focuses on business management and economic development. The school can establish stores run by the students using the skills learned at the school. The students gain hands-on experience in business and at the same time give back to their community by improving the economic development of the area. Additionally, the community could use the school athletic fields when school is not in session.
6. Overcrowding. The only way to reduce crowding in schools is to build more schools. I will appoint a blue ribbon panel made up of educators, teachers and parents of students to formulate a long-range plan for schools in the northwest Bronx and establish a budget plan. Politicians will not be included on the panel.
7. Office location. My district office will be located on or near a main street accessible by public transportation and handicapped accessible. Either a storefront office or an office in a building on a main street would allow constituents to easily find it. Which neighborhood in the district it will be located in depends on what space is available after the election. Preferably, there should be several community offices in the district. However, since the budget makes it difficult to have an office in every neighborhood, I will travel with my staff around the district, bringing the services to the people.
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