Rangel squares off against opponents in WABC-hosted debate

WABC hosted the first televised debate between Congressman Charles Rangel and two of his opponents in a hotly-contested Democratic primary. Eyewitness News anchor Diana Williams moderated the debate, which was streamed live on 7online and aired Sunday morning on Channel 7.

The 22-term incumbent faced State Senator Adriano Espaillat and Harlem pastor Michael Walrond as the three discussed a range of topics from affordable housing to poverty and public assistance.

The primary is an important one in upper Manhattan and the Bronx, as Rangel is faces a tough battle to hold onto his seat.

The area has changed dramatically in the last few years, and whether you live in the historic African-American neighborhood of Harlem or the now predominantly Hispanic district of Washington Heights, a lot of the issues we found there are issues all New Yorkers face: Opportunities for young people and increasing rents.

They are familiar refrains from New Yorkers, but in New York's district 13 -- made up of Harlem, Washington Heights and parts of the Bronx -- the tale of two cities seems especially stark, evident in the long lines outside a local food pantry.

Nearly 40 percent of residents in the district rely on some form of safety net, from food stamps to Social Security to shelters. More than 14 percent are unemployed, people like Edwin Brown, who just lost his job and now lives in a shelter with his two young children.

"You have wife, kids you try to take care of, and you try to get out of a situation," he said. "You can't."

A few blocks away, there are concerns about new development: a high rise will soon replace a Pathmark grocery store, but many are asking about the lack of affordable housing. Nearly a third of the people in the district live below the poverty line.

"Right now, everything is so expensive," one resident said. "Food, rent. People, with money they're making, how they can survive?"

Another issue is crime, which is was the one issue we heard most often despite the fact that crime numbers in New York City are down. But people don't feel safe, especially after the stabbings of two young children in an elevator in Brooklyn.

"I have grandkids," resident Debra Butler said. "He's 10. He rides the elevator by himself. Since that happened, I'm kind of scared."

Many wonder if the politicians can do anything beyond just talk.

"They don't work for us," one resident said. "They ain't do nothing for us out here."

Congressional debate - Part 1:

Congressional debate - Part 2:

Congressional debate - Part 3

Congressional debate - Part 4
Related Topics:
politicscharles rangeltale of two citiespovertyNew York CityHarlem (Central)Washington Heights
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