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Democratic Mayoral Candidates Square Off In Debate On Latino Issues

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Education, immigration, public housing and the police department's stop-and-frisk policy were among the issues addressed Wednesday as the seven Democratic mayoral candidates squared off in a debate at Hunter College that was hosted by NY1, NY1 Noticias and the Latino Leadership Institute. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.

With so many candidates in the Democratic primary for mayor, there is a real battle to get ahead.

For Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, that meant going after City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who leads in the polls.

Quinn has long said she would keep Police Commissioner Ray Kelly if elected mayor. She now says he will only get the job if he cuts down stop-and-frisk.

"I find it astounding that Speaker Quinn, with a straight face, can say that she thinks Ray Kelly will bring down the level of stop-and-frisk," de Blasio said. "Allow me to paraphrase Michael Corleone and say, 'Speaker Quinn, don't insult our intelligence.'"

"If Ray Kelly is going to be my police commissioner, like any other commissioner who works for me, they will follow my orders or they won't work for me," Quinn said.

Quinn and de Blasio sparred repeatedly during the 90-minute debate, which was held at Hunter College. It was hosted by NY1, NY1 Noticias and the Latino Leadership Institute.

Candidates differed when it came to creating a municipal ID for undocumented immigrants.

"A municipal ID card, I believe, leads to a separate and unequal system," said Comptroller John Liu. "We have to have everybody on the same level playing field."

"I think it's important to take leadership in the city of New York to create a municipal ID down here, not wait for Albany," said former Comptroller William Thompson.

Former Rep. Anthony Weiner, who is known for his combative debate style, largely stayed above the fray. He saved his attacks for Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

"For years and years, the mayor has been looking at a portion of his budget that says health care expenses rising, hospitals are closing, and he chooses to focus on the size of a soft drink," Weiner said. "That's the difference that we're going to have with the next mayor."

Longshot candidate Erick Salgado, a minister, arguably had the most to gain. He left a strong impression.

"Who is the mayor to tell me what I am going to drink?" he said. "What is going to be next? The chicken wing? We love chicken wings."

For now, chicken wings seem to be safe, but in this campaign, everything is open to debate.

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