If Wednesday’s Democratic Mayoral Debate at St. Francis Colleges is indicative of voter interest in the upcoming Mayoral election, we are in for an intense race.
The turnout was so high for the candidate forum that brought together five of the seven Democratic contenders, that many people who showed up did not even make it inside the auditorium. Almost immediately after it kicked off at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, security did not allow anyone in the premises as the auditorium reached its full capacity, while over 50 people formed a line outside in the hopes of getting in, but never did. Even members of the press were not allowed to enter. Security officials at the school said it would be a fire hazard.
“I went out of my way to get here,” said Irene Johnson, a retired school teacher from Forest Hills, Queens . “I don’t understand why would they have such an important event in a small venue.”
The forum, organized by the Brooklyn Reform Coalition, involved the candidates’ positions on various issues, ranging from rebuilding after Sandy, to the future of Long Island College Hospital, to charter schools, and the clean up of Gowanus Canal, amongst other issues of interest to the borough.
“Forums like these are very important for the public to decide who is best to do the job,” said Marisa Perez, a student from Park Slope, Brooklyn.
Michael Bloomberg, a republican turned independent, has served as New York City Mayor for three terms since his first election in 2002. Although, according to NYPD statistics, the city has become a safer, less violent place during his tenure, many see his policies to be controversial.
“It’s time for him to go,” said Perez. “He’s taking away our freedoms, telling us what to eat, where to smoke, and what size drinks we should have!”
The Candidates taking part in the forum were City Comptroller John Liu, former City Comptroller Bill Thompson, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, former City Councilmember Sal Albanese and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
The New Kings Democrats, one of the groups that constitute the Brooklyn Reform Coalition, which organized the event, posted an apology on its twitter account to those who did not get a seat at Wednesday’s forum.
“Apologies to all who couldn’t be seated at the mayoral forum,” one of the live tweets said. “Proves that we’re ready for change and people are motivated.”
The New York City mayoral election is scheduled to take place in November.