With Weiner and now Spitzer, a new campaign tone emerges

Jonathan P Hicks | 7/11/2013, 12:15 p.m. | Updated on 7/11/2013, 12:15 p.m.

So far, Weiner has leapt into the fray, taking on those issues throughout the city. For example, at a recent mayoral forum at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, he addressed many of these topics head-on along with his Democratic rivals William C. Thompson, John Liu and Sal Albanese. It should be noted that Quinn not only failed to attend, but her campaign never responded to the invitation to speak before Harlem residents, according to the forum’s organizers.

New Yorkers should resist the temptation to lump both men into the same category. At the same time, as long as they are candidates in these highly competitive races, voters, particularly in the African-American community, will need to take them to task and ask them to be specific about their policies in the areas that are most important. How will they create decent paying jobs for the sectors of New York where unemployment remains stubbornly high? How will they expand the availability of affordable housing?

The issue now is not so much what people think of their efforts to emerge from scandal, which is an unavoidable topic. But there should be a fair amount of attention paid to where they stand on the issues and, significantly, what they did–or failed to do–to address these concerns when they were last in office. Together, those will provide a sufficient litmus test for voters who are better served by looking not just backwards, but also forward.