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Public Advocate Hopefuls Face Off In NY1 Debate

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The five Democratic candidates for Public Advocate participated Thursday night in a debate at the Brooklyn Academy of Music that aired on NY1.

NY1's live debate included state Senator Daniel Squadron, City Councilwoman Letitia James, former Deputy Public Advocate Reshma Saujani, college professor Cathy Guerriero and police department employee Sidique Wai.

While the candidates agree on many issues, there was one heated exchange between Saujani and James when candidates were allowed to ask each other a question.

Saujani: Councilwoman James, have you ever taken a campaign contribution from a developer or their spouse or someone the developer asked to contribute to you while at the same time, deciding on a project?
James: Ms. Saujani, I don't think I'll take any ethics lessons from a Wall Street lawyer.

"You just saw a preview of what just occurred over the last year, these three fighting in and amongst themselves on all sorts of small political minutiae, this and that," Guerriero said. "And while they fought against each other, I have fought for New York City."

State Senator Daniel Squadron defended his record in Albany after it came under attack from James.

"I'm really proud of the work I have done to combat gun violence," he said. "My bill to ban assault weapons in the state became law as part of the Safe Act."

The candidates were also asked about the policy of stop, question and frisk. The NYPD's use of the tactic was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge this week.

"Unfortunately, stop, question and frisk in the city of New York has become a perverse right of passage for little boys of color, and we need to end it," James said.

Saujani emphasized her roots as a family of immigrants.

"Because I come from nothing," she said. "My family came here as refugees. I went to school and got a lot of student loan debt, and I'm still paying for it."

The latest poll of likely voters in the race shows James with the lead at 16 percent, Guerriero and Squadron tied for second at 12 percent, Saujani in third at 3 percent and Wai at 2 percent. The largest block, however, is undecided voters at 49 percent.

The primary is September 10.

Programming note: NY1 will also be carrying a live debate between the Democratic candidates for mayor on Wednesday, August 21 at 7 p.m.

Debate Tickets

Tickets to next week's Democratic mayoral debate are available by emailing or calling 212-227-0342, ext. 39. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP