De Blasio and Albanese face off in mayoral debate

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio greeted supporters before the Democratic primary debate at the Peter Norton Theater on the Upper West Side Wednesday. A few rivals greeted him as well.

The mayor faced off against former New York City council member and businessman Sal Albanese, who stayed on offense all night. He tried to take down the incumbent, accusing the mayor of pay-to-play politics.

Albanese called the mayor's administration the "least transparent" in recent history and that New York City needs a higher standard for mayor than not being indicted.

Candidates were both grilled on how to create affordable housing in the city and about the rising homelessness population. De Blasio said the rent freeze benefitted more than 2 million New Yorkers. Albanese, who billed himself as a reformer, appeared to be open to taxing wealthy non-residents who own real estate in the city.

When asked how each would improve mass transit, they both said they want more help from Albany.

The mayor was asked about spending so much time out of the city. The mayor was also asked if plans to run for president if he is reelected. He pledged to serve out his term.

And when it comes to keeping New Yorkers safe?

Albanese said morale is at an all-time low in the NYPD and that is troublesome.

De Blasio countered that New York is the safest big city in America and "that doesn't happen by accident."

The discussion returned a few times to ethics, campaign financing, and giving favors to political donors. De Blasio said his administration has been ethical and that merely receiving a donation doesn't constitute a conflict.

Albanese said he was stunned that de Blasio claims contributions don't affect him considering he has been under investigation.

NY1 News hosted the debate. NY1's Errol Louis moderated.