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Lancman outlines platform

State Assemblyman Rory Lancman sits down in the office of TimesLedger Newspapers to discuss his credentials and current campaign for Congress. Photo by Christina Santucci
TimesLedger Newspapers

State Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) recently sat down with TimesLedger Newspapers to discuss his campaign for Congress and outline some of the issues he would tackle in Washington, D.C., if he should win a four-way primary in June and then defeat a Republican challenger in November.

Lancman said his main goal for the campaign revolves around the economy and “leveling the playing field” for small business owners in the borough. For example, he wants to require banks to release more credit as well as lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 28 percent and eliminate loopholes, a plan that has been proposed by President Barack Obama.

Lancman is a lawyer and is in his eighth year as a state assemblyman. He is the current chairman of the Subcommittee on Workplace Safety and is also on the Majority Steering, Judiciary, Codes, Labor, Banks, Housing and Cities committees.

Lancman predicted equalizing the tax rate would help mom-and-pop shops in Queens stay competitive with national chains that operate similar type businesses. In addition, Lancman touched on capital gains taxes, which he would like to eliminate and have profits subject to traditional income taxes.

The taxes, which range from 0 percent to 35 percent depending on the income bracket, are applied to profits from stocks and bonds as well as property such as houses. They apply to all investors, including retirees in Queens who have invested money in financial markets as well as their homes over many years.

“I think it is misleading to make a distinction that income earned through sweat and work is less of a value and less important than income earned through investment,” he said.

Lancman faces Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing), City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) and Jeff Gottlieb in a four-way primary. Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) is running on the Republican ticket and is currently waiting in the wings until after the June 26 primary.

Israel has come up consistently in the Lancman campaign, since there is a large Jewish population centered in the west of the district around Forest Hills and Rego Park. The district runs from parts of Elmhurst and Ridgewood in the east through Forest Hills and Flushing and onto Bayside and other portions of northeast Queens.

Lancman received the endorsement of former Mayor Ed Koch and cited his travel to the country, op-eds in newspapers there and his vocal opinions on the conflict as reasons why his position is responsible, as opposed to Republicans who have also championed Israel’s cause but have engaged in what Lancman called “knee-jerk” reactions of military chest-thumping that might not be helpful to the region.

When asked about his staunch support of Israel and how it affects relationships with the borough’s Muslim population, Lancman said relationships with certain populations have not been as robust as others.

Lancman pointed out that his wife is Iranian and he gets along well with certain populations, including the Bangladeshi Muslims, but in 2006 when Israel invaded southern Lebanon, the assemblyman’s relationship with the Al-Khoei Mosque in Jamaica became strained.

Lancman had a rally in support of Israel. Al-Khoei had a rally in support of Hezbollah, which the U.S. Department of State recognizes as a terrorist organization.

“With them, I don’t have that much of a relationship,” he said.

Along with the endorsement of the Working Families Party, which historically has been a robust organizer on election days, Lancman has snagged endorsements from unions, including 32BJ. The assemblyman said that the endorsements do not come with the understanding that the unions will receive favorable legislation in return. Lancman said he has always been pro-labor and that if he was seeking endorsements for financial gain, he would have sought the backing of developers or banks.

The assemblyman prided himself on his scrappy legislative history and touted bills he wrote on a state level that have affected federal issues, like regulating Wall Street and proposing state regulation of companies that donate large amounts of money to super political action committees designed to influence elections.

“One of the my mantras is that there is not any issue that I can’t have an impact on,” he said.

Specifically, Lancman wants to tackle the issue of garbage-toting trains that lumber through western Queens, which are federally regulated, and would like to see a national DREAM Act, which would give illegal immigrants who were brought to America in their youth a path to citizenship.

Lancman also recalled the day when he made a trip to the home of U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) last month, when Ackerman was still planning to run for the seat. Lancman said he would not run against the veteran congressman in a primary, yet hours later Ackerman announced his retirement.

“The first thought that was in my head was: ‘Oh my God, he had a doctor’s appointment,’” Lancman said. “Once he was able to remove his ego and pride from the equation, he decided 30 years was enough.”

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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