Three Democratic candidates for the 9th City Council District in Manhattan joined Errol Louis on "Inside City Hall" Tuesday night for a primary debate.

The district includes much of Harlem, and the seat is currently held by Kristin Richardson Jordan, who last month announced she would not be running for re-election. This is leaving an open seat, but her name will still be on the ballot.

Three Democratic candidates are currently vying for the position: Yusef Salaam, Inez Dickens and Al Taylor.

Salaam is a member of the Exonerated Five, which was previously known as the Central Park Five, a group of men wrongly convicted of rape in the Central Park jogger case.

Dickens is currently an assemblywoman who represents parts of Harlem, and Taylor has represented parts of Manhattan in the state Assembly since 2017.

On Tuesday night, the three candadites were asked about how they want to utilize a controversial site on 145th Street in Harlem.

Developer Bruce Teitelbaum resubmitted a proposal in February to build more than 900 units of housing, half of which would be below market rates and 30% of which would be for families making around $50,000 a year.

Richardson Jordan rejected the original plan last year because of gentrification concerns, but Salaam, Dickens and Taylor all have their own plans for the site.

Taylor says Richardson Jordan should not have walked away from the negotiating table last year, and wants two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments — not just studio apartments — to headline the housing units.

"I would look at it and say to the developer, to the stakeholders, let's come in here. We are not leaving the table until we come up with what is going to be needed," Taylor said.

Dickens supported the plan last year because "we are in dire need of housing" and the federal government is not supporting the city.

"Where does the subsidy come from? The federal government is no longer bringing in federal dollars," Dickens said. "We have to look at other creative ways of how to do it."

Salaam pointed to concerns over the site currently housing a truck stop in a district with high levels of respiratory illness. He said the project "should not have gone down the way it went down."

"I would be asking for deep affordability for our people," Salaam said. "We have to figure out how do we get what we want, while they are negotiating to get what they want? There is no problem with that. The problem is walking away and getting nothing."

During Tuesday night's interview, the candidates also discussed the legal cannabis market, the resignation of NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell, migrants arriving in the city and public safety in Harlem.

The June primary election is two weeks away, and early voting begins Saturday.


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