LIVE BLOG: 8th Congressional District Debate

Event features three of the four candidates looking to replace Rep. Edolphus Towns in Congress.

The first local debate between candidates vying to represent Central Brooklyn in Congress is about to start at on St. Felix Street in Fort Greene Monday evening.

Stay with us as we provide live updates of the debate, which will include Democratic candidate Charles Barron, Green Party candidate Colin Beavan and Republican Alan Bellone.

9:13 p.m.: And that does it for tonight's debate.

A few questions emerged from Monday's remarks from the candidates, including:

1. What was up with the love-fest between Charles Barron and Colin Beavan?

2. Is Alan Bellone really a Republican or just a Democrat who likes to wear ties?

3. Where is Hakeem Jeffries right now?

9:08 p.m.: Bellone says, "No, this is not about race. It's about doing what's right for the people."

9:04 p.m.: Beavan agrees with Barron's statement on race.

And he's still mad at Jeffries for not showing up to Monday's debate (Note: it was due to Beavan's objections to event organizer Fort Greene Association about being excluded from the debate that led to Jeffries' absence—at least, according to Jeffries).

"People who don't show up to debates are not leaders," he said.

9:01 p.m.: Question for Barron: "Some people would say that this race is just about race. How do you respond to that?"

"It is about the human race in this district. And we are going to take care of every need in this district," he says, while acknowledging that a majority of voters in the district are African-American.

Barron says he has been to Howard Beach, a predominately white enclave in Queens, which is part of the new 8th Congressional District.

"They will have a new black respresentative... and that person will be me."

8:55 p.m.: The candidates are asked for their position on the legalization of gay marriage (**Note: Despite , same-sex marriages are still not recognized on the federal level).

Beavan: For it.
Bellone: For civil unions. Against calling it "marriage."
Barron: Declines to answer.

8:52 p.m.: An audience question for Bellone: "Why has Congress been so paralyzed since 2010, and how will you get progress out of them if elected?"

Bellone is taking his time answering the question.

"You need to get everyone to work together," he said, slamming the Tea Party for their handling of the debt crisis. "We need to come to an agreement on both sides."

He says he is not a "hardline" Republican, but that there are some views he will not change.

8:47 p.m.: Beavan now goes after Jeffries, against him.

Beavan says he's disappointed in the President—citing his "failure" to help out underwater homeowners as one of the reasons.

8:45 p.m.: In true Brooklyn fashion, Beavan remarks on the, shall we say, Democrat-ness exhibited by the Republican in the race, Alan Bellone.

"The only thing that makes you a Republican is your tie," Beavan says to Bellone.

Actually, Bellone has embraced several GOP talking points, especially in regards to the argument that tax cuts for businesses creates jobs.

8:42 p.m.: Now we get to health care, which will be a major issue for whomever succeeds Towns in Congress.

Bellone relates to the audience the situation of his wife, who pays for her own health plan that isn't so great.

A little bit of grumbling as the moderator informs the audience that the debate will go on for another hour.

8:38 p.m.: "This private sector economy is killing us," says Barron.

So far, not a lot of concrete proposals or views on existing items of legislation before the U.S. Congress in tonight's debate.

8:36 p.m.: Beavan accidentally calls Councilman Barron, Congressman Barron.

Barron calls the flub "prophetic."

8:34 p.m.: Bellone, the business owner, would get goverment to give him the tax incentives he needs to hire people so that he can help make a dent in the city's unemployment rate.

"You can't turn over to a corporation and tell them they need to hire more people," he said. "They can't hire people if they can't afford it."

8:31 p.m.: Fun fact: Beavan was educated in Britain, where his father is from.

"I went there because education is free. It should be free here too," he said.

8:28 p.m.: Barron's take on the nation's debt crisis: "Don't you think for one second that this country is broke."

8:26 p.m.: The debate momentarily turns to Barclays Center's impending opening and its effect on the district economically.

"First off, Barclays Center did not create jobs," Barron said. "We should continue to fight against it. Maybe we can put them out of business so then they can leave."

8:21 p.m.: Charter schools is emerging as a wedge issue against Jeffries, with Beavan charging that a pro-charter group has pledged to raise up to $100,000 on the Fort Greene Assemblyman's behalf.

8:14 p.m.: So far, the debate has been incredibly civil, with Barron and Beavan friendly with each other and Bellone a bit removed, typing on an iPad.

8:11 p.m.: Bellone uses the term "left behind" more than a few times in his remarks on education—perhaps in a nod to President George W. Bush's signature No Child Left Behind law. New York State only recently last week.

8:08 p.m.: Green candidate Beavan charges into the thorny issue of charter schools, taking a position that is almost identical with Barron, who received last month based largely on his stance on the controversial issue.

“Charter schools are merely a lifeboat for a ship that is sinking.”

He also argues for slashing military spending and cancelling student debt.

8:05 p.m.: Barron comes up with what may be the quote of the night, in regards to allegations of corporate malfeasance in the nation's foreclosure crisis that has touched more than a few homeowners in his district:

“If you want to stop and frisk somebody, stop and frisk Wall Street.”  

7:57 p.m.: Beavan is the first to bring up the news of the day regarding Gov. Andrew Cuomo's support of Jeffries' bill for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

"Personally I don't think that it goes far enough," he said. "We need to legalize marijuana."

7:55 p.m.: Barron promises to bring three traits to Washington: "Leadership, Activism, Organizing."

7:53 p.m.: Beavan says he will not take any money from business. “I do not believe in corporate personhood.”

On his book and accompanying documentary, No Impact Man: "I think I did a fairly respectful job talking to the American people on the emergencies we are facing."

Tonight, Beavan seems very taken with Barron, taking the time to praise him not only for showing up, but for his progressive ideals.

Taking over from Beavan, Barron turned to the Green candidate and told him, “I appreciate your love. But I hate to disappoint you," before continuing.

7:45 p.m.: Now Bellone sounds the Republican argument against raising taxes on the rich—precisely the thing Barron says the government needs to do.

7:42 p.m.: Bellone is now answering the question of what issues are important to him.

Bellone starts off on the issue of gas prices. As a small business owner, he says he can't understand why gas costs $1 more a gallon. "We have to correct and fix this. It's not fair for soccer moms ... for people are driving and paying these ridiculous gas prices," he said.

He also cites the issue of joblessness in the district. He advocates taking money that the U.S. government sends abroad and using it at home.

7:39 p.m.: Here's a brief summation of each candidates priorities:

Barron—Income inequality
Beavan—Reliance on fossil fuels

Hopefully this debate will provide the district's overwhelmingly Democratic voting base a peek into why Bellone is running.

7:37 p.m.: Beavan reminds the event's moderator that his name rhymes with "heaven."

7:34 p.m.: For those watching Barron as a city Councilman, his opening speech is pretty familiar, slamming the rich and championing issues related to the poorer residents in the five boroughs.

Barron also blasts Barclays Center in his statement, "They should have never built an arena here." The East New York Democrat has been highly critical of public subsidies given to build stadiums for the Mets and Yankees.

7:32 p.m.: Barron opens his remarks with a dig at Jeffries:

“You should respect the people and let the people know who you are," he told an audience that has barely half-filled the small auditorium here.

7:29 p.m.: Colin Beavan goes second, citing an unprecendented "emergency" facing our society and praising Barron for showing up to a debate that his fellow Democratic challenger Jeffries had shunned.

Beavan also gave the audience a peek into his local take on what are global problems.

"We should strengthen local economy and strengthen local communities," Beavan said.

7:26 p.m.: All three candidates have been introduced.

Republican Alan Bellone is up first.

"The number one thing I believe in strongly is family," Bellone begins.

Bellone cites education and getting people their "fair share" in his remarks.

7:21 p.m.: We're in the middle of introductions, including that of communication director Lillian Jean-Baptiste of Fort Greene Association, the organizer of tonight's debate.

Last week, FGA's original co-sponsor, The Local New York Times blog, joined  candidate Hakeem Jeffries that was originally going to feature the two Democratic aspirants only.

Jena Taylor June 07, 2012 at 12:43 AM
The empty chair for Hakeem Jeffries was perfect. He's an empty man...and, what was the love fest between Beaven and Barron? It was embarrassing.


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