Five of the leading Democratic candidates in the New York City mayoral election met Thursday for the final debate before early voting begins. Eric Adams reversed course Thursday and decided to attend the debate after saying earlier that he would be attending a vigil for a 10-year-old killed in Queens.
But hanging over Adams’ presence was a recent Politico report that raised questions about where he lives. The opening question of the debate was about Adams, who on Wednesday invited reporters to his apartment in Brooklyn to prove he lived there, although he has acknowledged spending some time with his partner in Fort Lee, New Jersey.
“You know what people are asking about,” Adams said. “I live in Brooklyn. I live in Bedford-Stuyvesant. I am happy to be there, it is a beautiful community, that’s where I live. It’s a humble place; it’s a blue collar place but I am a blue-collar candidate. I live in Brooklyn.”
Andrew Yang, who has been one of the frontrunners with Adams and has been a frequent target of Adams for being in New Paltz at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, hit Adams particularly hard on his living situation. Yang said “unfortunately his tour of the basement raised more questions than it answered for many New Yorkers, especially me.”
“I was asked by Mr. Yang to produce my EZ Pass, I did,” Adams said. “He started to say, ‘produce what type of milk you have in your fridge, produce what type of vegan cheese you have.’ This is silly. I live in Bed-Stuy, I’m a Brooklynite and I’m proud to be a Brooklynite.”
With just five candidates, the Thursday debate was smaller than past debates. It included Adams, former New York City Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, civil rights attorney Maya Wiley and Yang.
The hour-long debate also heavily focused on crime, but also touched on how the candidates would work with Governor Andrew Cuomo, regulations for legal marijuana and whether to rename landmarks that bear the names of slave owners.
Polling has shown crime is the top issue among likely primary voters. Compared to last year, instances of many major crimes are slightly down, but murders are up 12% and shootings are up 68%. When asked if police officers should continue to carry guns, almost all candidates said yes. Wiley said she is “not prepared” to answer that question in a debate.
Some of New York’s top progressive leaders have coalesced around Wiley in recent days. Since Saturday she has received endorsements from Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman, as well as New York Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
Wiley has pledged to cut at least $1 billion from the New York Police Department’s budget and reform how the department operates. She said in the debate that “safety is job one” for New York’s mayor, but the size of the department is not the issue.
“Justin Wallace is not dead because we don’t have enough police officers,” Wiley said, referring to the 10-year-old boy who was shot and killed in Queens last weekend. “He’s dead because we have never in this city done the very thing that communities like in the Far Rockaways or Washington Heights or Mott Haven have been asking us for, which is trauma-informed care.”
Stringer was asked about a second allegation of sexual misconduct. The New York Times reported last Friday that a woman accused Stringer of groping her and unwanted sexual advances in 1992. The news came several weeks after similar allegations from another woman who worked…