MIDDLE VILLAGE — The democratic candidates for New York's sixth congressional district faced off Thursday, hammering each other over hospital closures, NYPD funding and social security.
Just days before the June 26 primary election the candidates, Assemblywoman Grace Meng, Assemblyman Rory Lancman, City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley and Dr. Robert Mittman, each made their case to voters in the Our Lady of Hope school gymnasium during the two hour debate.
Meng, the pick of the Queens Democratic Party, came under fire for saying in an earlier debate that she would've voted with house democrats to defund the NYPD over its domestic spying program.
"Only one candidate here would have voted to defund the NYPD," Crowley said, "and that's Grace Meng. I would never vote to defund the NYPD."
"I think Ray Kelly is doing a great job," Mittman said, joining in. "If there's a problem with profiling, bring it to the courts."
Crowley took a shot at Lancman's social security plan, saying that the assemblyman's call to raise the cap on social security taxes put an unfair burden on working Americans.
"My plan is to strengthen the economy and get people back to work, not raise taxes on the middle class," Crowley said. "That's Rory Lancman's plan and I think its a bad plan."
Lancman got back at Crowley later. When Crowley said she did everything in her power at a city council member to handle the problems with freight trains that travel through Glendale and Middle Village, Lancman responded saying, "When someone says they've done all they can, it suggests a limitation to the office that I don't think is there."
Mittman, a Bayside doctor, critized the other candidates for the string of hospital closings that have plagued the borough over the past four years.
"How did they allow four hospitals to close?" Mittman said.
When they weren't attacking each other, the candidates tried to introduce themselves and their agendas to the crowd.
Crowley, who represents the area in the city council, told the audience that she wanted to take the passion she's shown the community to Washington.
Lancman, meanwhile, spoke about his background in the military and the state assembly.
Mittman, a political newcomer, went outside the box during the debate, repeatedly standing up and pulling out props to help make his points. When asked about capital gains taxes, Mittman pulled out a very large sheet of paper with the word and number one trillion written on it.
"We don't have enough millionaires to cover this," Mittman yelled. "We need to cut our budget."
For her part, Meng avoided attacking her opponents, but was heavily booed when she said she would oppose any law requiring voters to show identification before voting. Lancman was booed when he agreed with Meng, but managed to win over the crowd moments later, when he said "I will not support anything that makes it difficult for people to vote."
Meng drew big applause during her opening statement, when she spoke about working to give a voice to the voiceless and fighting for the middle class and education.
Mittman almost stole the show late in the evening when, while arguing for congressional term limits, he pledged to submit legislation to introduce them.
He signed a pledge to do so, and asked the others to do the same.
None of them did.
The candidates will meet again on June 18 in a debate sponsored by NY1.