Velazquez, Challengers Debate On "Inside City Hall"
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez and three challengers for a seat in New York's new Seventh Congressional District squared off in a debate on NY1's "Inside City Hall" Friday night. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
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Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez and three challengers for a seat in New York's new Seventh Congressional District squared off in a debate on NY1's "Inside City Hall" Friday night.
Inside City Hall’s Errol Louis moderated a debate with the four candidates running for a Congressional seat that includes parts of Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens: Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Councilman Erik Dilan, economist Dan O'Connor and Occupy Wall Street activist George Martinez. Watch the full debate.
For Velazquez, it is her first serious primary challenge in her 20 year tenure.
"I have been elected for 20 years," she said. "I have been independent. I'm progressive and basically, I have no relationship with the party boss from Brooklyn."
That, she thinks, is to her advantage.
Her most serious challenger, Councilman Erik Martin Dilan, has won Lopez's backing. He says Velazquez isn't as independent as she says she is.
"Since your first election, you were appointed by the Democratic boss, Howard Golden," he said. "And you have the support of the Queens Democratic boss, Joe Crowley."
Next week the four candidates will tussle for a place on the Democratic ticket in the newly-drawn district, which stretches from Woodhaven in Queens to Sunset Park in Brooklyn.
What the Congresswoman's competitors all have in common is claiming she is too closely aligned with Wall Street and not Main Street.
"I don't think she has done anything to curb the way that money influences policy," said candidate Dan O'Connor. "In fact, I think she has been engaged in that. She gets a lot of her campaign donations from Wall Street and lobbyists and big banks."
"I reject the premise that we have to have money in politics in the first place," said candidate George Martinez.
"Traditional lending didn't take place to help small businesses," she said. "But we injected $27 billion in loan guarantee by the federal government."
But her challengers pressed on, questioning a vote she had in 1999 in favor of a bill that deregulated the financial industry.
During the debate, Velazquez said she did not vote for the bill but in the final version, after amendments, she voted for deregulation. A spokesperson said she misspoke during the debate.