Four Democrats vying for their party’s nomination to run for a vacated congressional seat in the Fourth Congressional District squared off in a debate Monday night, agreeing that they must keep a Republican out of the House, that Nassau has a crying need for more affordable housing and that Social Security must remain intact.
But Malverne Mayor Keith Corbett attacked one of his opponents, former Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen, saying she had lost her re-election race in 2019 to a Republican and could not win again. Gillen responded by saying she had broad support from Democrats and Republicans.
Corbett appeared to be treating Gillen as his chief opponent.
The Democrat Primary is Aug. 23. The winner of the primary will face Hempstead town councilman Anthony D’Eposito, a Republican.
The debate, sponsored by the League of Women Voters, also included Nassau County Legis. Carrie Solages, who has been in the legislature since 2012, and. Dr. Muzibul Huq, is a physician with little political or governmental experience.
The Fourth Congressional District seat, which covers large portions of Nassau County's South Shore, became vacant in February when four-term Democratic congresswoman Kathleen Rice announced she will not seek a fifth term.
Kathy Meany, president of the Westchester County League of Women Voters, moderated the debate, since she does not live in the Fourth CD.
In one of the few fiery moments of the mostly-polite debate, Corbett noted that in 2019, Gillen lost her re-election bid to Republican Donald Clavin.
“I never lost an election,” said Corbett, who became Malverne mayor in 2019. “She’s (Gillen) an excellent person, but she will not defeat D’Esposito.”
In response, Gillen said, “I have served this district as supervisor. I got elected by getting support not just from Democrats, but across the aisle as well.”
Corbett also said Gillen has a super PAC she should be forced to disclose.”
Gillen said in response, “I do not have an interest in cryptocurrency or crypto stocks.”
Each candidate touted accomplishments. Corbett said he had defended then-President Barack Obama against allegations by Donald Trump that he was not born in the United States. “I know how Washington and Albany work,” Corbett said. “Compromise has become a bad word.”
Gillen noted she is an attorney and “got things done” despite Republican opposition. “It was a good government agenda,” she said.
Huq said he had established medical facilities overseas and that it was best he was not a professional politician.
Solages noted he had been in the county legislature 10 years and that he most wants to see that “the middle-class dream is not dying.”
The candidates agreed Nassau County taxes need to be brought under better control, more money is needed for affordable housing or keep seniors and young people in Nassau, medical treatment for veterans needs to be more of a priority, and that the rights of women need to be protected after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the landmark Roe v Wade.