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The Final Debate in the 14th Congressional District

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By Robert Press

What was seen by the Parkchester Times 14th Congressional Debate held Wednesday night was that yes a live candidates debate could be held during a Pandemic. After all Governor Cuomo in his live daily briefings has had up to twenty-five people in the room. The governor, a few of his staff up front with him, several production people, and more than ten reporters, all who are socially distanced. 

If you went to one of the early voting sites there were fourteen to eighteen poll workers, two police officers, one or two visitors (such as myself), and the few people who were at the poll site to vote, for a total of up to twenty-five or more people in the room. 

I was one of the organizers of the Parkchester Times debate, and my job was not to moderate as I did in 2018, but to make sure the candidates appeared. The debate was to be on Facebook Live, and recorded by Bronxnet Television with their host Gary Axelbank as the moderator. In talking to the candidates representatives I made sure all knew that I was not moderating the debate this year, and in conversations with Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez's person Ms. Lauren Hitt I could sense a similar pattern to the 2018 debate when then Congressman Crowley's person said he could not attend due to a prior commitment. After proposing several dates to Ms. Hitt I noticed stalling by her, and was told to pick a date when I asked her for an answer. 

A date of Wednesday June 17th was chosen for a live debate, and conveyed to all candidates. Candidates Michelle Caruso-Cabrera and Badrun Khan confirmed that they would attend. There was no response from Ms. Hitt, again until I pressured her for an answer. Two days after the date was sent to the candidates I noticed the congresswoman had scheduled a coffee with the congresswoman, and received word from Ms. Hitt that her boss would not be attending the debate. Since the congresswoman was not going to attend candidate Kahn pulled out of the debate. So how did I get Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez to attend a debate she did not want to attend? 

I saw an ad on Facebook for the congresswoman, and noticed during the 2020 Pandemic that the photo of the congresswoman had no mask. I posted on Facebook questioning as to how during a Pandemic the congresswoman could campaign without a mask. I received an answer that the photo was from 2018, and then questioned why the congresswoman would not want to use a photo of herself wearing a mask during the Pandemic. Comments started to pop up on Facebook by Bronx residents of the 14th congressional district, mostly asking why the congresswoman was ducking the debate. The clincher had to be when I went to the congresswoman's campaign office and requested a poster of her two days before the debate. As I was leaving with the poster I was asked what I intended to do with it. I said that since the congresswoman was not going to attend, the poster of her would be placed on a chair to represent her. 

Here is the link to the entire Parkchester Times debate,

The three candidate (L – R) Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortes, candidate Badrun Khan, moderator Gary Axelbank, and candidate Michelle Caruo-Cabrera.

Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez poses for a selfie with one of the cameramen.

Candidate Michelle Caruso-Cabrera.

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