The candidates also discussed several other policy issues, including the stop-and-frisk policy, the question of whether raising taxes on the highest earners was as good idea, whether identification should be provided to undocumented immigrants, and the need for education reform – particularly in light of the recent news that less than a third of eighth graders passed standardized tests.
As 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon reported, the candidates all generally agreed with the stop-and-frisk ruling, and Quinn said she would continue to support the Community Safety Act on racial profiling.
“The Council and I have worked on reforming this for years, and next week, we will override the mayor’s veto,” she said.
Most of the candidates also came out against the use of standardized testing as a principal benchmark for student performance, with Thompson calling it an “obsession.” But Weiner defended the common core standards on which the tests were based, saying he would not join “the choir beating up on Mayor Bloomberg” about them, but adding that teachers must be trained to educate students using them.
As to Weiner’s latest headline-grabbing sexting scandal, two opponents sidestepped scandal altogether, while two others went on the offensive.
“I don’t want to talk about Anthony, and that’s not why I’m here tonight. I want to talk about the future of the city of New York,” Thompson said.
“Anthony – other people can talk about him, but please don’t ask me any more questions about him,” added Liu.
But de Blasio said Weiner should quit the race.
“Mr. Weiner should step aside for the good of the city, because we need a debate on the issues,” he said.
Quinn slammed Weiner for what she characterized as a lack of a record in Congress.
“We’ve all heard a lot about his personal issues. For me, the bigger issue is his record,” she said. “If you look at Anthony’s record in Congress, it was passing one piece of legislation at the request of a campaign contributor who was a tobacco distributor.”
In closing, all five candidates presented themselves as progressives and defenders of the middle class and everyday people in the city.
“This election is about leadership. It’s about leadership that is principled and has integrity; leadership that is tried and tested,” Thompson said, characterizing himself as “a leader that the public can trust.” He said in particular that he wants to work to turn around schools and not close them, and ensure that the NYPD makes the city safer without violating anyone’s constitutional rights.
Weiner indirectly addressed his sexting scandal in his closing statement.
“I waged this campaign on a bet that New Yorkers will be less interested in my personal life” than in their own future, he said.
“There’s no doubt about it – there are some powerful voices in the city who really don’t want me in. They’ve made that very clear at the outset,” he said. “But this isn’t about them. This is about you.”
Quinn noted that her own grandparents came to New York from Ireland in hopes of getting out of poverty and into the middle class, and now, “I go to City Hall all day every day and fight for middle class New Yorkers.”
She called herself “the only one on this stage with a proven track record of results.”
De Blasio took on both Bloomberg and fellow candidate Quinn, saying times were fantastic for Wall Street bankers who live on Park Avenue, but such was not the case for struggling everyday workers.
“If we’re going to end this tale of two cities, we can’t continue the policies of Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn,” he said. “We have to have a progressive change.”
He said he would raise taxes on the wealthy to fund schools, stop the closure of hospitals, and end the stop-and-frisk program altogether to effect that change.
And Liu talked about a Harlem woman he called Mrs. Brown, who he said has suffered both from stop-and-frisk – which has affected her children as they have walked to church or to the playground minding their own business – and a stagnant minimum wage.
“Mrs. Brown is one of those people I will fight for, even if it means getting a target on my back,” he said.
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