By Carmen Glover
New York: All five Democratic mayoral candidates in New York City participated in the first debate in the election cycle during a session which aired on WABC Channel 7 at 7:00 pm last night. Bill Ritter did his best to keep the debate flowing smoothly despite the attempts by a wayward Anthony Weiner to dominate the show by repeating his view that his “independence” makes him the best choice for the electorate. Weiner touted his independence in response to most of the questions posed, including the sexting scandal that has overshadowed his mayoral bid. While some of the candidates refused to share their views about Weiner’s presence in the race, Pubic Advocate Bill de Blasio had no such qualms.
“Anthony Weiner should step aside for the good of the city,” he said firmly. City Controller John Liu shook off a tentative, unsteady start to make a few noteworthy points about his campaign’s platform but it seemed as if Public Advocate Bill de Blasio was the most polished and credible candidate in the race. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn gave the same stock answer for almost every question, while former City Controller William Thompson seemed knowledgeable and passionate.
The debate covered the usual topics: Immigration, the economy, the educational system, stop and frisk, a topic for which they were all prepared. “Too many people are being stopped who did nothing wrong,” said Weiner, while Liu called for “community policing.” Thompson did not mince words on the issue. “We have to make sure our city is safe but we don’t have to sacrifice our constitutional rights to get it done,” he said. De Blasio suggested having “an independent inspector general and a new police commissioner.” All of the male candidates said that if elected, they would find a new police commissioner but Quinn was staunch in her support of Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, praising his achievements. Williams praised Kelly modestly before delivering one of the harshest assessments on the commissioner’s role in the stop and frisk debacle plaguing the city. “Ray Kelly has done good things for the city of New York,” Williams said, “but he’s also become the face of an abusive stop and frisk policy that targets Blacks and Latinos in the city of New York.’
All of the candidates decried the abysmal statewide test scores of public school students who took tests in the spring in preparation for the Common Core standards. According to results released recently, a mere third of the students passed the tests. Although Quinn said schools should be “closed when necessary,” the men all advocated giving schools additional resources to excel as a better alternative. “Give schools additional support,” Thompson said. “I support a moratorium on closing schools” de Blasio stated. It was on the issue of jobs that all five candidates seemed to be most animated. “Let big companies pay their fair share and give small businesses a tax break to spur economic development,” Liu suggested. Agreeing, de Blasio said “Take sustainability away from big companies and provide it to CUNY for job training.” Williams agreed with job training while Quinn boated about her “record or results.” The debate was co-sponsored by the Daily News, WABC/Channel 7, the League of Women Voters and Noticias 41 Univision. –OnPointPress.net