NEW YORK (AP) — Eight Democratic candidates running to be New York City’s next mayor sparred in a debate Wednesday night, each trying to position themselves as the person to lead the city forward with the primary election less than three weeks away.
The televised debate was the second in the race to succeed term-limited Mayor Bill de Blasio, but the first time the candidates had been in the same room as opposed to virtual. It set up an at-times cacophonous event, with candidates frequently talking over each other, and criticizing each other’s stances.
The candidates were aggressive with each other as they were asked about issues including how to deal with an increase in violent crime, policing, and the city’s recovery from the pandemic.
A particularly harsh exchange came toward the end of the debate between Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, when the candidates were each allowed to ask one other candidate a question.
Adams questioned how New Yorkers could rely on Yang to run the city when he hasn’t voted in the last several mayoral elections and spent time outside of the city when the pandemic hit.
“Why should we trust you now, you may flee again during a difficult time,” he said.
Yang hit back, saying that “we need to turn the page on people who’ve been running our city into the ground for the last number of years.”
The candidates also included Kathryn Garcia, a former city sanitation commissioner, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, civil rights attorney Maya Wiley, former Citigroup executive Ray McGuire, former Obama housing secretary Shaun Donovan and former nonprofit executive Dianne Morales.
The primary election is on June 22, but early voting starts June 12 and runs through June 20.
For the first time, New York City will be using ranked choice voting, which lets voters pick up to five candidates and rank them in order of preference. That means a candidate could still win even if trailing in an initial round, if enough people selected them as their second choice.
Asked about who they would choose as their second choice, most of the candidates said they didn’t have an answer, except for Donovan, who said he would pick Wiley and Yang, who said he would pick Garcia.