NEW YORK - With Primary Day less than a week away, the eight leading Democratic candidates for mayor made their pitches to voters in the final televised debate on Wednesday, even as early voting has begun.
As in prior debates, the candidates were asked about a rise in violent crime and other issues that impact the city's recovery from the pandemic. And also like other debates, the candidates at times sent pointed comments toward each other.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang had a strident back-and-forth after Yang brought up an endorsement from the Captains Endowment Association, pointing out that they chose him over Adams, a former police officer.
"The people who worked with him for years, who know him best. They just endorsed me," Yang said.
Candidates also detailed the first thing they would do to reduce crime.
"I am committed to getting 10-thousand guns off the streets of New York and I know many agree with me gun buy backs work," Kathryn Garcia said.
Meanwhile, Maya Wiley and Dianne Morales said they both support significantly reducing the police budget and redirecting the money to social services.
"I have called for a reduction of three billion dollars in the NYPD budget. We have the largest budget for a police force in the country if not in the world," Morales said. "If there were a corrolation between policing and public safety we'd be the safest city in the world. "
City Comptroller Scott Stringer later criticized Yang after he answered a question about homelessness by talking about increasing the number of psych beds. Stringer interjected to call it "the greatest non-answer I've heard of all of our debates."
The primary election to replace term-limited Mayor Bill de Blasio is on June 22. Early voting began June 12 and runs through June 20.
Recent polls put Eric Adams in the lead. Kathryn Garcia, the surveys show, has leaped into second place. Maya Wiley and Andrew Yang round out the top four. But take the polls with a grain of salt. No one is running away with the race, and ranked-choice voting makes predicting the outcome difficult.
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The candidates were also asked what was the worst ideas they had heard from another candidate, with McGuire saying he thought it was calls to defund the police, which he said Black and brown communities don't support.
Morales vociferously pushed back. "How dare you assume you can speak for Black and brown communities as a monolith," she said.
New York City is using ranked choice voting in this election. Voters can pick up to five candidates and rank them. A candidate can still win even after trailing in an initial round, if enough people select them as their second choice.
According to the city’s Board of Elections, more than 64,000 New Yorkers have voted early. Early voting continues through Sunday. The primary takes place on Tuesday.