The not so great debate
By Adam Wisnieski
Rep. Charles Rangel was a no-show at last week’s Congressional District 13 debate in Manhattan, but the four challengers for his seat carried on anyway.
It is unclear exactly why Mr. Rangel didn’t show.
Julia Attaway, president of the Hudson Heights Owners Coalition that hosted the debate, said the event was planned around the House of Representatives’ schedule so Mr. Rangel could attend.
While there were a few mentions of Mr. Rangel during the two-hour debate, only state Sen. Adriano Espaillat called him out.
“I’m disappointed that he is not here because we should have a vigorous debate across this district,” Mr. Espaillat said.
About 50 people, many of them members of the Hudson Heights Owners Coalition, attended the debate and were given an opportunity to ask questions of the candidates.
For a race that many have speculated will come down to race demographics, the debate highlighted the candidates’ plans for navigating a fiercely divided House.
If one of the four challengers were to beat Mr. Rangel, they would step into Congress as a freshman member of what is likely to be the minority party, which has traditionally made it hard to get much done legislatively.
But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try.
At the debate, the challengers laid out how they plan to get things done. One point of disagreement was whether whoever is elected should work with Republican representatives.
When asked about how they would work to retain funding for agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, Clyde Williams, Joyce Johnson and Craig Schley all said they would reach across the aisle.
“The problem is we’ve demonized people on the other side of the aisle,” Mr. Schley said.
But Mr. Espaillat disagreed.
“I’m a proud Democrat,” he said. “We must take back Congress.”
He said he’s seen Mr. Obama’s failed attempts to work with Republicans and would not make the same mistakes.
On a question about how the candidates planned to bring federal money into New York for transportation, Mr. Williams stood out from the crowd.
KeywordsAdam Wisnieski, Political Arena, Charlie Rangel, Congressional District 13 debate, Hudson Heights Owners Coalition, Adriano Espaillat, Clyde Williams, Joyce Johnson, Craig Schley,