Eight candidates vying to be the next mayor of New York City — the country’s largest metropolis — sparred over housing, homelessness and education Wednesday evening in the third and final debate before next week’s Democratic primary.
Many of the candidates attempted to land punches on their opponents in a last-ditch effort to appeal to voters, tens of thousands of whom have already cast their ballots.
The New York City Board of Elections said Wednesday that more than 64,000 people have cast ballots so far in early voting, which began this past weekend. Whoever wins the June 22 primary is likely to win in the Nov. 2 general election, given the city’s large Democratic voter base. However, turnout tends to be low in New York City primaries. About 700,000 New Yorkers voted in the 2013 primaries, which is roughly 20 percent of registered voters.
The two-hour live, in-person debate was moderated by NBC New York, Politico Telemundo, POLITICO, the Citizens Budget Commission and the New York Urban League.
The gloves came off during a segment in which candidates were asked to name the worst idea they had heard from their opponents on the campaign trail.
Both former New York City Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia and Raymond McGuire, a former business executive, said defunding the police was not good policy, which drew the ire from nonprofit executive Dianne Morales after McGuire suggested it was young, white activists who push that rhetoric.
“The defund movement was actually started by young Black and brown people,” Morales said. “I am a member of that community, and you are certainly not speaking for me.”
McGuire shot back: “I just did.”
Morales said the worst idea she had heard was that some of the candidates supported “flooding the subways with more cops.” Civil rights lawyer Maya Wiley said the worst idea she had heard was from Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a former NYPD captain, for wanting to bring back stop-and-frisk and the NYPD’s controversial anti-crime unit. Adams denied that he wanted to have a stop-and-frisk return.
Andrew Yang, the former 2020 presidential candidate and businessman, said the worst idea he heard was Adams’ suggestion to bring a firearm to church. Adams went after many of Yang’s proposals, specifically his plan for a universal basic income, which Adams called “Monopoly money.” Former City Comptroller Scott Stringer also said the worst ideas he has heard came from Yang, such as building a casino on Governors Island and creating “TikTok houses” for artists.
The candidates were also asked about a problem they didn’t know how to solve and the majority mentioned education.
All the candidates were asked if they would add police on city subways to deter crime on public transit. All but three candidates raised their hands in support of that, with Stringer, Morales and Wiley saying no. When asked if they would extend school days to make up for class time lost during the pandemic, all candidates said they would support it, except for Stringer and Morales.
They were also asked if they would offer current Mayor Bill de Blasio a job in their administration.
Every candidate said no.
Adams, McGuire and Stringer, however, said they would seek his counsel on policy matters.
Yang said not only would he not offer de Blasio a job, but “he wouldn’t want a job with my administration.” Wiley said she wouldn’t offer a position to someone who wasn’t asking for one.
The candidates pressed on new ideas to fight homelessness and getting resources to undocumented city residents. After Yang answered a question about what he’d do differently to help homeless New Yorkers, such as increasing psychiatric care, Stringer called it the worst nonanswer he’s heard in the debate.
For the first time, the city will use ranked-choice voting in a primary, giving voters the option to select as many as five candidates in order of preference.
A recent poll by Change Research placed Adams slightly ahead of Wiley and Garcia, each of whom has 19 percent.
Yang is at 12 percent. Stringer, who has denied sexual assault allegations, is at 8 percent. Obama administration Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan received 4 percent and McGuire received 3 percent. Morales is at 1 percent. The poll, conducted June 11 – 14 and surveyed 822 likely Democratic voters, found that 10 percent of voters remain undecided. In a ranked-choice voting simulation also conducted by Change Research, Garcia earned 51 percent of the vote thanks to her strong second- and third-choice rankings among those who rank Wiley, Yang, or Stringer first.
The post NYC mayoral hopefuls spar in final debate before Tuesday’s pivotal primary appeared first on NBC News.