NY1 hosted the first — and the only televised — general election debate in the race for city comptroller, as incumbent and Democrat Scott Stringer faced his Republican challenger Michel Faulkner on Tuesday night from the CUNY Graduate Center.
The city comptroller is responsible, in part, for overseeing an $85 billion budget, auditing city agencies, and approving contracts.
Much of the focus during the hour-long faceoff on NY1 was on longstanding issues dogging the city, and which one of them could better stand up to Bill de Blasio.
"Let me say this: I support Bill de Blasio for re-election, I support pre-k, I support the way he has navigated the budget," Stringer said.
"We have needed a physical — an activist, which you promised to do, which you campaigned to be, and you were not that activist," Faulkner said. "At the end of the day, you looked like a politician."
Faulkner is a former New York Jets player. He is a pastor in Harlem, and a supporter of President Trump.
He even defended the federal government and its oversight of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) — perhaps ignoring the president's budget proposal earlier this year, which proposed cutting billions of dollars from the agency that oversees public housing.
"The president of the United States," Stringer said. "Here in New York City, he has basically upended the safety net for NYCHA residents."
"The president is not responsible for the problems at NYCHA; the $17 billion price tag that took place, took place way before he came," Faulkner said.
Stringer is the heavy favorite in the race, which most see as less than competitive.
Faulkner has been behind Stringer's campaign on the financial front. According to a campaign finance filing last week, the Faulkner campaign was actually in the red, while Stringer had $1.5 million on-hand.
Still, the conversation covered pension returns, homelessness, and the closure of Rikers Island. Stringer said the jail should be shut down within three years, while Faulkner was unclear on whether it should be shuttered.
"His grand plan is just to simply close Rikers to do what with that property?" Faulkner said. "We need to have a grand view of things, but what I am talking about is the immediacy of the dangers of Rikers Island right now."
Tuesday night may be one of the last chances for the candidates to try to convince voters to come to their corner, with the citywide race not garnering much attention.