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Queens Chronicle

Seniors group offers detailed look at the candidates

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Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2013 10:30 am

With just days to go before the primaries for citywide offices, the Council of Senior Centers and Services last Thursday posted online a detailed questionnaire it gave to the candidates, along with their answers.

The CSCS, which says it is the leading advocate for senior services, posted the questions and answers on its website, cscs-ny.org. To see them, click on the candidate questionnaire link under the “News Alerts and Advocacy” tab.

Seniors who do not have a computer with an internet connection at home can always utilize one at the Queens LIbrary.

The questionnaire was sent to mayoral, comptroller, public advocate and borough president candidates to gauge their understanding and support of issues impacting older New Yorkers.

According to recent Census data, New York City is experiencing an aging tsunami as baby boomers begin to turn 70 in 2016, in the middle of the new mayor’s term. With 1.4 million New Yorkers over the age of 60, a number that is expected to grow 45 percent by 2030, the next mayor has the responsibility to develop programs and policies in order to create a city for all ages.

“Council of Senior Centers and Services is proud to release its questionnaire, the only one of its kind regarding issues of importance to older New Yorkers, which was circulated to mayoral and other candidates,” said Bobbie Sackman, the CSCS director of public policy. “CSCS also held a mayoral forum attended by five candidates, over 400 older adults and others.”

If recent trends continue then upwards of half of all New York City primary voters this year are likely to be over age 50. The over-85 population is the fastest growing segment of the city’s population. In addition to gauging the candidate’s knowledge the questionnaire serves as an educational resource to help older New Yorkers know which candidate endorses them as an important part of the fabric of the city.

“The next mayor will have the responsibility to develop programs and policies to ensure that older New Yorkers can age in place in their homes and communities with dignity,” Sackman said. “Thousands of family caregivers are struggling in isolation to provide critical care to their loved ones with physical illnesses and Alzheimer’s or other dementia, often without adequate supports from city government. There is a tremendous opportunity for the next mayor to harness the experience and energy of older adults to work or volunteer in ways that build the future of NYC. Older adults are a central part of the future of NYC.”

While all the questions and answers can be found on the website, the CSCS also highlighted quotes from select candidates.

Bill Thompson, a Democrat running for the mayoral nomination, said:

“Older New Yorkers are an important part of our city’s fabric. They are our mothers, fathers, and other loved ones, and deserve the highest amount of care New York City has to offer. I respect the valuable work CSCS does to fight for seniors everyday. As mayor, I look forward to working with groups such as this and others to ensure our seniors have access to needed services. I plan to build more affordable housing for seniors, ensure easier access to rent exemptions and provide programs to support caregivers. I know older adults are a central part of the city’s future and will contribute to push for comprehensive policies and programs that help our older adults.”

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, the Democratic frontrunner for mayor, said:

“Seniors deserve not just our respect, but also the care and support of the community at large. As mayor, I’m committed to fighting for affordable senior housing, access to quality healthcare, services that improve mobility, and funding for vital community centers that so many of New York’s seniors depend on for their everyday needs. It was an honor to attend CSCS’s mayoral forum, and l look forward to continuing to work with CSCS to promote policies that support our senior population.”

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), who is also running for mayor, said:

“It is up to the next mayor to ensure that our most vulnerable citizens, including older New Yorkers, are cared for and provided the vital services they depend on. As Speaker of the City Council, I have always made senior services a priority in the city’s budget and passed many pieces of legislation to prevent elder abuse, a pilot program that provides free bus service for seniors to grocery stores and a rent increase exemption to seniors residing in rent-regulated apartments, Mitchell-Lama and hotel tenants. As Mayor I will continue to be a fierce advocate for older New Yorkers and have vowed to make New York City the most age-friendly city in the world. I’ll continue to make infrastructure improvements to help older New Yorkers better navigate our city, improve the Access-a-Ride program and make legal representation more accessible so that older New Yorkers are not unnecessarily evicted from their homes.”

The CSCS can be reached at (212) 398-6565.

Primary Day is Sept. 10. If any runoff elections are necessary because no candidate gets at least 40 percent of the vote in a citywide race, those will be held Oct. 1. Election Day is Nov. 5.

Welcome to the discussion.