De Blasio, Lhota face off in their first general election debate

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Democrat Bill de Blasio and Republic Joe Lhota debated for the first time in the general election on Tuesday night. File photos
Democrat Bill de Blasio and Republic Joe Lhota debated for the first time in the general election on Tuesday night.

Mayoral opponents Bill de Blasio and Joe Lhota met in their first debate of the general election Tuesday night.

De Blasio, the Democratic candidate and front-runner, spent much of the Tuesday, October 15 televised debate trying to tie Lhota to national Republicans and the Tea Party.

“I think Mr. Lhota should be straight up with us about the fact that he does subscribe to the views of the national Republican Party,” said de Blasio, who mentioned Lhota’s attendance at a Staten Island Tea Party event and support of delaying Obamacare for a year.

“Don’t lump me in with people who I’m constantly in disagreement with,” said Lhota, defending himself at one point.

Lhota, who was deputy mayor under Mayor Rudy Giuliani and headed up the MTA, took aim at de Blasio by saying he has the direct management experience to be mayor.

“I can be mayor on day one without any training, without any learning curve whatsoever, said Lhota.

Though both candidates expressed a desire to change the direction of the city and agreed on some basic points, including creating more affordable housing, they were divided on many of the issues.

Among the topics covered were charter schools, crime and stop-and-frisk, the government shutdown, job creation and narrowing the income gap.

De Blasio spoke about his “Tale of Two Cites,” saying 46 percent of residents are living at or near the poverty the level, and his desire to tax the wealthy. He wants to use the tax increase to expand after-school programs and create universal pre-K.

Lhota called de Blasio a typical “career politician” who says he’s going to raise taxes on the wealthy, but will end up also raising them on the middle class. Lhota added that de Blasio voting twice to increase property taxes when he was on the City Council and other parts of his record were proof of him “going back and taking money away from the middle class.”

The two candidates will debate again on October 22 and 29.

 

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