NEW YORK (AP) _ In their first debate before next week's mayoral election, Democrat Mark Green and Republican Michael Bloomberg questioned the other's ability to manage a city still finding its footing after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The two tangled over issues ranging from rebuilding to campaign financing.

Bloomberg said his background in building the media company Bloomberg L.P. is the kind of experience the city needs.

``Plain and simple, I am the one most likely to bring in business and keep companies here in the city,'' Bloomberg said.

Green, the city's public advocate, maintains the mayor's job can be done best by someone with political experience who can juggle priorities.

``There are so many things we have to urgently do,'' Green said. ``Yes, we have to rebuild the economy. Yes, we have to provide security. But it's education that has to remain the priority.''

Some of the most heated moments in the debate held at New School University in Manhattan were about Bloomberg's campaign spending. He has spent $41 million of his own money; Green has spent $11 million.

After Bloomberg criticized Green's campaign contributions from the real estate industry, Green fired back.

``It is true that a person who tries to buy City Hall has few conflicts of interest,'' Green said. ``I'm not trying to win an auction. I'm trying to win an election.''

Political analysts say Bloomberg needs a dramatic turn of events to win election in a city in which Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 5-1 ratio.

The two are seeking to replace term-limited Republican Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who has endorsed Bloomberg but has yet to campaign with him.