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2 Republican NYC mayoral candidates field questions at forum

Michel Faulkner speaks during the Brooklyn GOP mayoral

Michel Faulkner speaks during the Brooklyn GOP mayoral candidate forum in the Dyker Beach Golf Course clubhouse, Wednesday, March 1, 2017. Credit: Jeff Bachner

The two Republicans running for New York City mayor took aim at Democratic incumbent Bill de Blasio on Wednesday night, casting him as an absentee leader mired in scandals, during a GOP forum in Brooklyn.

Paul Massey, a real estate sales executive, and Michel Faulkner, a former New York Jets football player turned church pastor, traded compliments with one another during a forum organized by the Brooklyn GOP, directing their criticism at de Blasio.

They each described the mayor as a politically divisive figure, who had not done enough to reduce rising homeless rates in the city.

“Part of the reason why I’m running is that we have a significant leadership vacuum, you can feel it,” Massey told an audience of about 60 voters gathered at a reception hall inside the Dyker Beach Golf Course.

“I object to the divisiveness of the current mayor, promoting ‘a tale of two cities’ . . . I think it’s very dangerous,” Massey said, referring to de Blasio’s 2013 campaign theme of bridging the gap between the city’s “haves and have nots.”

Massey, who has raised nearly $1.6 million for his campaign according to campaign finance reports, said he planned on self-financing the majority of his campaign, striking a contrast with de Blasio who is now facing state and federal probes into his campaign finance operations.

De Blasio, who last Friday voluntarily met with federal prosecutors looking into whether his aides doled out favors to campaign contributors, has repeatedly denied wrongdoing. On Monday, he told NY1 that he and his City Hall aides “have done everything appropriately.”

Massey described himself as “pretty socially moderate,” while Faulkner, billed himself as a conservative black candidate who could beat de Blasio and Democrats, by making inroads with black and latino voters.

“Right now New York City might be the last best hope that we have as Conservatives of stemming the tide on this progressive,” movement, Faulkner said, adding that Republicans did not have to sell themselves as “Democrat-lite” to win the mayoral race.

Faulkner, accused de Blasio — who traveled to other states during last year’s presidential race promoting Hillary Clinton and progressive causes — of “ignoring his responsibilities as mayor . . . neglecting the needs of his city for national exposure.”

Reached for comment, De Blasio campaign spokesman Dan Levitan, defended the mayor’s record saying “crime is at record lows, jobs are at a record high.”

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