With only a few days left before the election, a campaign flyer circulated by state Senate candidate Rory Lancman calling the incumbent Frank Padavan an “extremist” on abortion may have backfired.
At a candidates night on Tuesday sponsored by the East Bayside Homeowners Association, the Lancman flyer was brought centerstage by EBHA President Frank Skala, who disapproved of the Democrat’s labeling of Padavan.
Skala had questioned whether Lancman had authorized the flyer, then commented that Lancman was equating the word “extremist” with Padavan’s so-called anti-choice position on abortion.
Lancman, who earlier this month attacked Padavan on his recently passed gun control bill, stood by the extremist claim in the flyer, saying Padavan had voted against a bill to ensure women safe access to abortion clinics, an assertion not denied by Padavan.
Lancman, who said he believes in a woman’s right to choose, would later say that he also favored partial birth abortions to give a woman a choice in selecting the safest procedure for her.
Lancman made the distinction of saying he was pro-choice, not necessarily pro-abortion, and said he didn’t want the government interfering with that choice.
The candidate, a lawyer, said that if George Bush wins the presidency, he could appoint as many as four chief justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, which could result in the overturning of the landmark Roe vs. Wade case legalizing abortions. In that event, Lancman said the state legislature could act.
When Lancman asked if he had answered Skala’s question, Skala replied that his answer was “not to my satisfaction.”
Later in the meeting, Padavan defended his “pro-life” position, saying he was “not an extremist on any issue.”
Padavan said he was against abortion except in cases of incest, rape or when the mother’s life was in jeopardy. On his opposition to the safe access to abortion clinic issue, Padavan said there were laws already on the books against violence or being accosted on a public street.
In a reference to pro-life protests in front of clinics, Padavan said he believed in “peaceful protests.”
While Lancman drew the ire of Skala over his flyer, Padavan too, didn’t escape Skala’s critical eye on another issue: parking, something the civic leader considers the group’s number one local priority.
Padavan gave the Bayside Business Association a $500,000 grant for improvements to Bell Boulevard, but Skala said the business association is run for the benefit of “outsiders” who don’t live in the community. He said the money instead should go toward finding additional parking, something local residents could use and he chastised Padavan for giving the money away.
“I’m on your side, but I don’t agree,” Padavan quipped, saying the money would go toward “enhancing the shopping experience” of Bell Boulevard, which would benefit local property values.
Padavan said there simply was no land for sale on which to build parking lots. The senator also rejected ideas from the audience to build parking over the Long Island Rail Road, a proposal the senator called cost prohibitive.
Padavan, who helped found the EBHA in 1974 and seemed to have a good rapport with Skala despite the parking flap, commented that his 28 years in office were capped in July when his gun control reform bill was signed by Governor George Pataki.
Padavan said his bill was described by the New York Times as the “most far-reaching, comprehensive” law in the country. The Republican senator also said that his gun control efforts have generated threats from the New York affiliate of the National Rifle Association.
Padavan also announced his recent endorsements by the Daily News and New York Post and read a letter of support from Schools Chancellor Harold Levy.
Lancman, however, talked about his background, saying he attended local schools and has served on Community Board 8 for the last 10 years, serving on various committees. He said he was most proud of his chairmanship of the board of the Queens Hospital Center, where he fought and won against Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s attempts to privatize the hospital.
If elected, Lancman promised to go to Albany to fight for the city’s fair share of monies for education and reform of HMOs.
Also appearing before the group was Ann-Margaret Carrozza, who is running unopposed for reelection to the Assembly; Jerry Iannece and Joyce Shepard, who are running for the City Council next year and Carol Gresser and Sheldon Leffler, who are seeking the Queens Borough Presidency, also next year.
Prior to the speeches, Skala had asked the candidates if they would support several key issues of importance to the group: opposition to street festivals that close Bell Boulevard; no expansion of St. Mary’s Hospital for Children; no election signs on public property, bumper stickers or flyers on cars and opposition to any type of historic preservation district within East Bayside.
The candidates—Lancman, Padavan and Carrozza—each said they would support the group’s issues. The others would be asked those questions next year. Skala said the group would “keep an eye” on them as the year progressed.
Carrozza, a Democrat, said that her office has been creative in solving constituent problems, especially those of seniors. She added that she has also been active in healthcare reform, including a bill that would minimally reactivate retired physicians while the state picked up their medical malpractice insurance.
Skala also asked Carrozza a difficult question: why hadn’t the footbridge over the LIRR been rehabilitated? Carrozza, slightly taken aback, said she had been assured by city officials that the bridge was slated for repairs. She added that she would make the bridge a priority, as well as parking.
Skala also presented Millennium Community Service Awards to seven people: Bernard Haber, the CB 11 chairman; Andrew Ippolito, the Property Civic Association president; editor Roz Liston; 11th Precinct community relations Officer Anthony Lombardi; Bayside businessman Jack Oshier; Bayside High School Principal Harris Sarney and Mandingo Tshaka, president of the Bayside Clear-Spring Council.