Candidates and potential candidates for mayor faced off in Harlem Thursday in a forum focusing on how they might help low-income New Yorkers.
Several mayor candidates attended a forum Thursday in Harlem to talk about poverty, and the conversation immediately turned on Democratic front-runner, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
"It is precisely in a moment of economic crisis when people are hurting that we need paid sick day legislation passed," said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.
Quinn has not let a bill to require paid sick leave come to a vote at the City Council.
She says it's not the right time, given the economy.
It's a reason her rivals did not find convincing.
"We still have an unemployment rate that is higher than the rest of the state and the rest of the country," Quinn said.
"There is no research that says that paid sick leave is detrimental to the economy," said City Comptroller John Liu.
The conversation wasn't just about time off. It was also about how much New Yorkers get paid on the job.
"In New York City, we need a minimum wage of $11.50 an hour," Liu said.
Other mayoral contenders thought that was unrealistic.
"I believe and agree with Bill de Blasio, agree with our president of the United States. Our goal should be to get it to $9," Quinn said.
"$9 is the level," said former City Comptroller William Thompson.
Some of the loudest cheers were for Liu, even as he is dogged by a federal investigation into his campaign.
He had a message for the feds.
"It's time to put up or shut up already, because I have an election to win," he said.
Thursday's forum was also the official debut for Adolfo Carrion, the former Bronx borough president who announced his campaign for mayor earlier this week.
He focused on the economy.
"About 350,000 jobs associated with the tourism industry," Carrion said. "We should set a goal for 70 million tourists by 2015."
Not all of the candidates were on the stage. Joseph Lhota, John Catsimatidis and George McDonald, all Republicans, did not attend Thursday night's forum.