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Candidates: just how democratic are we?

With Brad Lander’s primary win all but assuring him a seat in the New York City Council come January, Monday night’s candidates forum on 7th Avenue was more about how we conduct elections in this city than who might actually be the best person to represent the 39th District.

Two of the three minor party candidates hoping to succeed Bill de Blasio - Green David Pechefsky and Republican Joe Nardiello - joined Lander at the Old First Reformed Church for a screening of a provocative short documentary called “Vote for Me”, followed bya Q&A session with residents.

Libertarian candidate Roger Sarrabo was a no-show.

Not surprisingly, the two underdogs facing aSisyphean task this fall found a lot wrong with a system that virtually guarantees a victory in the general election to whichever Democrat wins the primary.

Lander, not so much.

“I found that it was more of a democratic process than I thought it was going into it,” Lander said.

Pechefsky criticized a supposedly democratic process that stacks the deck against third party participation and uses tax-payer funds to finance what effectively becomes Democratic Party elections.

“It becomes a thing about personalities and resources,” Pechefsky said. “Why should we pay for Democrats to choose their nominee?”

Nardiello is so opposed to the way campaign financing works that he has refused to accept matching funds.

“I gave myself the toughest road to make this race about a personand not about a party,” Nardiello said.

Nardiello said he has nothing to do with “neo-conservatism” and was here to “moderate the Republican Party.”

Pechefsky welcomed the matching funds he has been able to utilize for his long-shot campaign, but lamented that they were not available until October 1.

“It is not healthy to have a one-party system,” Pechefsky said. “It does not produce good outcomes.”

Lander observed that “it isn’t party bosses that make the borough Democratic.”

Monday night’s forum did allow the candidates the opportunity to talk about what kind of councilmembers they might make.

In response to what they would do to help retain small neighborhood business now being forced out because of escalating rents, each outlined distinct tactics.

Lander said he supported an effort to provide mediation between tenant and landlord at the time of lease renewal.

Pechefsky advocated tax incentives that could actually help small business owners buy the spaces they occupy.

Nardiello said there is essential nothing that government can do to help.

“Basically, it’s capitalism,” Nardiello lamented.

The longtime GOPer and Park Slope Food Co-op member instead blamed skyrocketing rents on “greedy” property owners and suggested that neighbors upset with losing their favorite stores and shops should “embarrass the landlord” by boycotting new businesses that move in.

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