Council Candidates Put Best Faces Forward

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District 5 candidates on ideas for the city

By Beth Mellow

On a rainy Thursday night last week, three Democratic candidates vying for Jessica Lapin's District 5 City Council Seat convened for a crowded forum at The East Side Democratic Club. Ed Hartzog, a member of Community Board 8, activist Ben Kallos, and Assembly Member Micah Kellner discussed their platforms and answered a variety of questions that touched on topics ranging from overdevelopment in the neighborhood to the Indian Point nuclear facility. (Another candidate for the seat, professor and author Hill Krishnan, was not in attendence.)

Ed Hartzog

Ed Hartzog is a member of Community Board 8 on the Upper East Side. Before moving to New York City, he worked as a congressional staffer in Washington, D.C.

On major construction projects on the Upper East Side:

"I think it's diminishing our quality of life. There's more noise, more congestion, and we are not getting more green space."

Belief about city government:

"There is a lack of transparency. People feel powerless. One night they have a clear view form their apartment and then they wake up the next day and see scaffolding from their windows." He adds, "People come to community board meetings and ask when did this happen. Why did no one ask me?"

Hertzog also explained a comment he made in January to a female reporter that was viewed as sexist. When reporter Victoria Bekiempis asked Hartzog about his campaign finance report, he responded "What's a pretty girl like you doing reading those?":

"I had a brief bout with foot in mouth disease. I regret making the comment. What bothers me most about it is that folks who don't know me read about this [incident] and think that's all I am about. I've spent my lifetime advocating for women - everything from reproductive rights to equal pay."

What he thinks about Roosevelt Island:

"Roosevelt Island has become much more important in the past few years, especially with the development of the Cornell-Technion project. I think we can improve upon accessibility to the island by establishing a Ferry Service."

Ben Kallos

Kallos. an attorney, has worked as Director of Policy for public advocate Mark Green and as Chief of Staff for former state Assembly Member Jonathan Bing. He also served as Executive Director of the New Roosevelt Itiative.

On the construction of the Marine Transfer Station at 91st Street:

"We're in favor of responsible development - it means dump the dump."

On the construction of Cornell-Technion on Roosevelt Island:

"I'm the only candidate to testify against Cornell-Technion. If you are going to develop it, development must be done responsibly."

On transparency in city government:

"I worked to get all city council voting records online. I'd like to see all city council proceedings live streamed and archived as well and perhaps also have a dial-in so that people can listen into the process [by phone]. It's important for people to see what's going on."

About Indian Point and whether it should be shut down:

"We get 25 percent of New York City's energy from Indian Point. We shut it down and one borough goes dark. We need to look toward closing down Indian Point, but not until we have a local source of energy."

Micah Kellner

Kellner has represented the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island in the New York State Assembly since 2007. He chairs the assembly's committee on Libraries and Education Technology.

On the Marine Transfer Station:

"I am keeping up the fight against the waste transfer station. I want to sue the body I'm trying to join [the City Council]." He adds, "We are just putting trucks on a barge and ferrying them to the same location in New Jersey where we transfer our trash already. Adding this extra step is just unnecessary."

His efforts on behalf of transparency in state government:

"It's very depressing when one of my colleagues gets arrested. I decided that I wanted to do something about it and authored the Public Corruption Prevention and Enforcement Act."

On making NYC more accessible:

"My pet project is making every taxi wheelchair accessible. We can move from having a system like Access-a-Ride to a debit-type system that individuals can use for taxi service. We would save hundreds of millions of dollars for the city."

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