Democratic Mayoral Candidates Come Together For Q&A
City Comptroller John Liu, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, former City Comptroller Bill Thompson and former Councilmember Sal Albanese spoke to an audience of more than 100 persons on the topics of education, employment, crime and overall quality of life issues which, according to all who spoke, have been greatly degraded by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his administration.
The interactive meeting was organized and hosted by Councilmember Daniel Dromm.
The first to speak was de Blasio who said that, “There has been a status quo which has developed in New York. This town has truly become a tale of two cities.”
The Brooklyn resident also said that the city’s educational system is totally decimated and there is a toxic mix of bad teachers, and parents who are being ignored by their children’s school.
If elected mayor, de Blasio promised to pay attention to the boroughs outside of Manhattan and pledged to stop aggressive fines and ticketing which is more prevalent in Queens and Brooklyn than compared to downtown.
He wants to tax the wealthiest New Yorkers who make more than $250,000 a year.
In regards to education, de Blasio said he would stop the “false idol of standardized testing”, and make educational goals more obtainable for the city’s students.
On the issue of stop and frisk, de Blasio said that the only answer to stop a campaign which, according to him, targets minorities and is only performed in poor neighborhoods. Another solution is to have a new police commissioner.
The other candidates pretty much all agreed on the same issues. Thompson, former president of the New York City Board of Education, pledges to bring in a chancellor that has an educational background while renewing the current public school curriculum to include art and physical education.
“We don’t need to stop 16 ounce sodas,” Thompson said. “We need to have more physical education for our young people.”
He also criticized the Metropolitan Transit Authority, saying that their technology is antiquated.
“There have been some instances when a train or track has broken down and repairs were delayed because the parts needed weren’t even being produced any longer,” Thompson said.
Another topic that the former city comptroller was passionate about was the fact New York has become a city of the “haves and have nots”.
He pledged to raise the minimum wage and stop the city from summonsing the outer boroughs.
Liu spoke on the importance of job creation and raising the minimum wage to a higher level than the proposed rate, to $12.50 an hour.
The city comptroller also said that the city’s finances need to be fixed in order for the MTA, educational system and public services including fire and police can thrive and be more productive.
Albanese was the last to speak. A former public school teacher, he spent 15 years on the City Council Public Safety Committee, and spoke about stop and frisk.
Although he does feel the policy is a necessary police tool, it should be reformed to ensure that no one is stopped in violation of the Constitution.
On the topic of education, Albanese pledges to consolidate programs like Head Start, pre-Kindergarten, and after-school programs under a single city agency, eliminating financial waste and increasing access for thousands of our students.
If elected, he would also reform the way the city recruits, trains and supports our teachers, including a more rigorous student teaching experience, extended mentorships and regular classroom feedback.
A question and answer period followed.