It was round two for mayoral candidates Joe Lhota and Bill de Blasio.
The two sparred over a range of issues during their second debate on Tuesday, including taxes and education, but some of the most heated exchanges came over crime and public safety.
Lhota, who received the backing of the Queens County Republican Party, brought up the fact that de Blasio served in the administration of Mayor David Dinkins—a period when there were 2,000 murders a year and “the last time we had a race riot in the city of New York.”
“He is actually bringing us backwards,” said Lhota.
Lhota, who disagrees with de Blasio over having an inspector general for the NYPD, said, “we cannot handcuff the police department.”
De Blasio said he believes in “a strong NYPD,” and “an independent inspector general is a smart form of check and balance to make sure we’re doing things right, to make sure that civil liberties and individual liberties are being recognized.”
Lhota already targeted his Democratic opponent on his weaknesses on crime in an ad released on Wednesday, October 16, which was brought up during the debate.
Calling the ad divisive, de Blasio said it was “race-baiting” and “fear-mongering.”
The ad shows scenes from the city’s higher-crime past and suggests crime will go up under a de Blasio administration.
“Don’t tell me I throw out the race card because there is nothing racial in there. And Bill, you cannot stoop that low and bring that up,” Lhota said, firing back at the charges at one point.
Lhota also blasted de Blasio over comments he made about Rudy Giuliani, whom Lhota worked for during both his terms as New York City mayor.
“I am getting sick and tired of you impugning the integrity of Rudy Giuliani,” Lhota said.
De Blasio and Lhota will meet for their next and final debate on Tuesday, October 29.