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Gotham Votes 2013

Weiner Shies Away As Quinn, de Blasio Duke It Out


PHOTO: Latima Stephens/Gotham Gazette

A crowded stage of Democratic candidates for mayor laid low as Christine Quinn and Bill de Blasio jabbed at each other during tonight’s mayoral forum.

The second televised mayoral debate was hosted by NY1 and it’s sister Spanish-language station NY1 Noticias at Hunter College. The Democratic field was invited to talk issues important to the Latino community — namely public health, policing and education.

Instead, the forum became a rehash of confrontations between the same candidates.

Audience members witnessed a familiar back and forth between Public Advocate De Blasio and City Council Speaker Quinn in which de Blasio accused Quinn of having delivered not to New Yorkers but to the real estate industry and Mayor Michael Bloomberg on term limits.

The audience at Hunter College cheered on De Blasio’s attacks and often took to booing Quinn, especially at her willingness to keep New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly in her administration as long as he committed to reforming stop-and-frisk. 

Quinn also said she wouldn’t be opposed to federal intervention on stop-and-frisk, and that an independent monitor could be reconciled with the Council’s inspector general bill that she has long supported.

Comptroller John Liu echoed Quinn’s support for the Department of Justice’s stepping in, calling the DOJ’s position “a terrible indictment" of the Bloomberg administration.

Boos and hisses resurfaced when Quinn tried to respond to De Blasio’s attack on Quinn’s record, which she said included decreasing deportations by the city’s police and the Department of Corrections.

"It’s easy for the public advocate to take shots but when I supported a living wage law and prevailing wage law," Quinn said," and got sued by the real estate industry and the mayor, I stood up for New Yorkers."

Harkening back to her speech earlier this week in which she tried to differentiate herself from the rest of the Democratic candidates, Quinn relied on what’s become her new tagline: “Talk is cheap."

The feud between De Blasio and Quinn has become a staple of the Democratic forums, as have former Congressman Anthony Weiner’s emphatic displays.

However, Weiner’s debut on the televised forum circuit showed a much more restrained candidate, ignoring the feuding candidates and a now routine jab from former Councilman Sal Albanese on Weiner’s Congressional vote in support of the Iraq War. 

Former Comptroller Bill Thompson, fresh off his endorsement from the United Federation of Teachers, received ringing applause for his support of bilingual education and English as a second language programs. Like Weiner, however, Thompson mostly laid low.

During a question that referenced increased asthma rates near waste transfer stations in heavily Latino communities, only Quinn brought up the 91st Street station. She said some of her rivals would rather stand with campaign donors.

Thompson dodged the question, but revived his attack on what he described as the Bloomberg’s administration poor handling of public housing. He again called for the firing of Housing Authority Chairman John Rhea.

"Thank goodness they’re out at the end of this year," Thompson said. 

Conservative Democratic candidate Erick Salgado appeared to be a crowd favorite, especially whenever he showed off his fluent Spanish on the panel. 

"I’m Hispanic, I eat like a Hispanic, I dress like a Hispanic," Salgado said in Spanish, and shouted his support for a major league soccer field in Flushing Meadows Park with a resounding, “Gooooooooool."

When the candidates were asked why Latinos should vote for them instead of Salgado as the only Latino in the Democratic primary, the Bensonhurst minister drew more laughs.

Yes, that’s a good question," he said.

During a lightning round, Salgado also became the only candidate to speak out against state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in light of former Assemblyman Vito Lopez’s scandal.

The same lightning round did reveal a few new things: de Blasio is the only candidate to travel to Cuba; Weiner has yet to eat any cuchifritos; nobody wants to intervene on Puerto Rican statehood; and all of them have used Goya brand products.

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