Four Queens Democrats running to replace retiring Congressman Gary Ackerman faced off in a debate on NY1 on Monday, and the candidates fought over Social Security, Israel, the NYPD and negative campaigning. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.
The four Democrats running for the 6th Congressional District may share a political party affiliation, but on key policy concerns, like what to do about the future of Social Security, there are clear differences.
State Assemblyman Rory Lancman wants to lift the cap on Social Security taxes for those who earn more than $110,000 per year.
"It is an urgent problem that requires our immediate attention," said Lancman.
Two of Lancman's opponents, City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley and State Assemblywoman Grace Meng, are against the idea.
"Rory's plan is to raise taxes on working and middle class families," said Crowley.
"I do not believe that now is the right time to tax them," said Meng.
Israel and Middle East politics has also figured prominently in the campaign. Lancman sent out a mailer attacking Crowley for saying she thinks Israel is a "distraction."
Crowley said the quote is taken out of context and that Lancman is spending too much time focusing on the security of Israel.
"Is it the most important issue? Is it the most important issue?" Crowley asked.
"It's an extremely important issue," Lancman answered.
Meng did her best to stay out of the fray. But when candidates had the opportunity to challenge each other directly, she took aim at Lancman for sending out this mailer that reads, "It's A Dangerous World."
The assemblywoman described it as "fear mongering."
"A piece of literature that literally scared my children," Meng said.
Meng and Lancman did see eye to eye on one issue. Both support having U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder investigate the New York City Police Department over its stop-and-frisk practices.
Robert Mittman, a doctor from Bayside, Queens, and Crowley do not.
"Ray Kelly has done a phenomenal job," said Mittman.
Meng, though, was alone in her support for cutting funding for the NYPD if its surveillance of Muslims was found to be unconstitutional.
"It's of most crucial importance to work with communities instead of blindly targeting them," said Meng.
"You can never even think of defunding the NYPD," responded Crowley.
The Democratic primary is on Tuesday, June 26.