The four Democratic candidates for Manhattan Borough President went head to head Wednesday in a debate that focused on the borough's future development and the health needs of current workers. NY1's Jon Weinstein filed the following report.
As Democrats Julie Menin, Gale Brewer, Jessica Lappin and Robert Jackson squared off at a Crain's New York forum, land use issues were at the top of the list. The Manhattan Borough President's office holds significant sway over the future of development in the borough, and creating affordable housing seemed to be a top priority.
"We need to be doing proactive planning at the community level to make sure as we grow and evolve and are more fully developed that we are including affordable housing in that development," Lappin said.
The debate was held at the Yale Club in Midtown East, an area the Bloomberg administration wants to re-zone to create more modern office space. But all four candidates want to see the process slowed down, with more community involvement. That would mean making it a decision for the next mayoral administration.
"The City of New York is not going to end and close its books on 12-31-13. It needs to be done inclusively with the people that live in the community," Jackson said.
One of the hottest topics in the race is the planned 91st Street Waste Transfer station on the Upper East Side. Lappin, Brewer and Jackson want it reconsidered. Only Menin said it needs to stay there.
"Is the alternative to move it into East Harlem, is the alternative to move it into Washington Heights? I would not support that. Leadership is about standing up and taking tough stances," Menin said.
All four candidates support the recently passed bill guaranteeing paid sick leave for most workers in the city. Brewer was one of the bill's architects. She defended it against claims that it would hurt small businesses.
"There is a lot of support for the final version of paid sick days which exempts businesses 20 or less and has a lot of provisions for when it takes effect," Brewer said.
As with almost every political discussion these days, the political comebacks of Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner also came up. Only Jackson offered them some support, saying the voters should decide if they're worthy to hold public office again.