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NYC schedules several mayoral debates

The Democratic mayoral candidates will meet twice this primary season in official televised debates, with the Republican contenders scheduled for a separate pair of fall faceoffs, the New York City Campaign Finance Board said Thursday.

The Democrats will debate on Aug. 21 and Sept. 3, both at 7 p.m., and the Republicans on Aug. 28 at 7 p.m. and Sept. 8 at 11:30 a.m. The events will also be broadcast on the radio, online and in Spanish.

All candidates who signed up for the public finance program -- the seven Democrats as well as Republican Joseph Lhota -- are mandated to participate, the board said in announcing the schedule and sponsors.

Lhota would go up against Republican John Catsimatidis, who is not seeking taxpayer-financed matching funds but will likely be invited to the debates.

The official debates, before the Sept. 10 primary, provide citywide exposure for the candidates, Campaign Finance Board executive director Amy Loprest said Thursday. Voters also have an important opportunity because "all the candidates are going to be on the same stage at the same time answering all about the same issue," she said.

The debates come amid the dozens of more informal forums hosted around the city by community groups.

If no candidate earns 40 percent of the primary vote, the first- and second-place contenders will meet in a runoff. The official Democratic mayoral runoff debate is set for Sept. 17.

The general election mayoral debates are Oct. 22 and Oct. 29. All three are at 7 p.m.

Loprest was joined at a news conference in front of City Hall by media and civic sponsors of the debates, including CBS 2 News, Common Cause, NBC 4 New York, The Wall Street Journal, NY1 News and the Citizens Committee for New York City.

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