GOP opponent slams Cymbrowitz for ducking debate

Cymbrowitz a no-show at Manhattan Beach debate

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Sheepshead Bay Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz refused to attend an Oct. 24 candidates debate sponsored by the Manhattan Beach Community Group — giving one of his challengers a chance to distribute a missing person poster for the pol.

“Steven Cymbrowitz lacks the guts to stand before the people he represents and defend his record,” said Gallo. “When I was approached about debating Steven Cymbrowitz, I had two conditions: tell me when and tell me where,”

With Cymbrowitz a no show, GOP challenger Russel Gallo and former Democratic primary turned Independent Party candidate Ben Akselrod squared off on issues ranging from drug reform to taxes to demanding term limits for state legislators.

“If eight years was good enough for George Washington, its good enough for me,” said Gallo, who said he would treat the Assembly position as a full time job.

Akselrod, who Cymbrowitz narrowly defeated in September, agreed, although he wants to be paid more for his time.

“For those who treat the position as a full time job, a modest increase might be possible,” said Akselrod.

According to the Courier’s applause-O-meter — this reporter’s ears — Gallo was a clear crowd favorite, undoubtably earning more claps and cheers than the more soft spoken independent contender.

Cymbrowitz, who received a nod from Manhattan Beach Community Group debate moderator Judy Baron, declined the invitation to participate in the debate, claiming that the group has criticized the legislator in the past.

“I welcome the opportunity to debate Mr. Gallo, but only in a setting that is impartial and independent of partisan affiliation,” said Cymbrowitz in a statement. “A community group that has expressed public criticism of any candidate is simply not an appropriate sponsor for a debate.

Manhattan Beach Community Group president Ira Zalcman was floored by Cymbrowitz’s excuse.

“I thought we’re allowed to disagree with any elected official in the country, from the president on down, but not Steven Cymbrowitz apparently,” said Zalcman. “We were thinking this is the United States of America, not the United States of Iran.”

Reach reporter Colin MIxson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.
Updated 1:36 am, November 5, 2012
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