UPDATED: Oct. 15, 2014 4:17 p.m.

WASHINGTON (WNEW/AP) — The politics of identity, religion and party affiliation can weigh heavily in a D.C. election, and one of those in particular was among the topics in the latest mayoral debate.

More than six minutes at the opening of Wednesday’s hour-long forum were spent discussing a quote in the Washington Post from a born-again, 75-year-old, life-long Democrat who says she won’t vote for independent David Catania because he’s gay.

When it comes to questions about personality and demeanor, Democratic nominee Muriel Bowser rejects suggestions that she’s slow to take decisive action on issues and is too sensitive to claims that she has a thin record.

“Oh I’m not passive,” Bowser says. “I stand up for what I think. I make sure that I’m involved in every conversation that affects the lives of the District of Columbia.”

Independent David Catania, who’s been gaining in recent polls, wouldn’t apologize for his style, often described as quick-tempered.

“When you’re attempting to do big things you’re not going to please everybody all the time,” Catania says.

Five-time mayoral candidate Carol Schwartz cast herself as someone who can get along with everyone, saying “I like people and I think that’s a very good component.”

The future of some of D.C.’s most vulnerable residents is a major issue in this year’s race for mayor.

The leading candidates agreed there should be smaller homeless shelters in all eight wards of the District. The large shelter at D.C. General is in disrepair and the current mayor wants it closed.

Then there’s the controversy over Park Southern, a low-income apartment complex that was once run by Phinis Jones, someone who donated and raised money for Bowser’s campaign.

An audit by the Department of Housing and Community Development found $103,000 in “unsupported revenue and expense discrepancies” linked to Jones’ management company. He denies the accuracy of those figures.

Bowser tells WNEW’s D.C. Bureau Chief Matt DelSignore she wants to wait for the inspector general to weigh in “so that we can seek getting a clean assessment of what happened.”

Bowser says the issue has become politicized.

Polls have suggested this could be the most competitive race for mayor since 1994, when Marion Barry won a fourth term.

Wednesday’s debate was hosted by The Washington Post and WRC-TV. It will be broadcast on Sunday.

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WNEW D.C. Bureau Chief Matt DelSignore contributed to this report. Follow him and WNEW on Twitter.

(TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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