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Public Advocate Candidates Draw Sharp Distinctions In Second Live Debate

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With the Democratic primary election drawing closer, the candidates for public advocate held their second live debate on Sunday, and this time around, each of the four major candidates sharply distinguished themselves. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

Although the public advocate is first in line to temporarily take the reins of city government should something happen to the mayor, it was City Councilwoman Letitia James who seemed the least interested in ever holding that job.

"I do not represent the well-connected. I am not interested in running for mayor. I am interested in representing the voice of everyday New Yorkers," said James. "Their voices have been lost."

Former Deputy Public Advocate Reshma Saujani claims she hasn't sought the endorsement of mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio, her former boss.

Saujani did, however, take a swipe at her opponent Cathy Guerriero on the New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk tactic.

"Cathy Guerriero supports stop-and-frisk, I do not," Saujani said. "It is racist and wrong."

State Senator Daniel Squadron received the coveted endorsement of the New York Times this weekend, but as the only Albany-based politician, he refused to call for embattled Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's resignation.

"Look, at the end of the day, the Democratic members of the State Assembly are the ones who choose the Speaker, and I have left it to them," Squadron said.

Educator Cathy Guerriero repeatedly distanced herself from her three challengers, even mocking them for dodging direct questions.

"I am running against three politicians, three politicians who don't even know, even in their best sense, how to answer a question when actually asked," Guerriero said.

Each candidate was asked whether they support retroactive raises for city workers.

"You know at a cost at an estimated, close to $8 billion, I don't know how you can afford the whole thing," Squadron said.

"I support them being on the table, and we have to find the money to pay for them," Saujani said. "It is incumbent on the public advocate to stand up for the middle class."

"I support retroactive raises," James said. "That's why I called for a lock-box for funds."

"You bet," Guerriero said. "They've earned every single penny. They've earned it, it's theirs, give it to them."

The candidates were also asked who they support for mayor.

The only one willing to answer the question was Cathy Guerriero, who said she supports Bill Thompson.

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