(Bloomberg) — New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said he is watching the race for his successor “very very carefully” and remains undecided. Candidate Eric Adams defended his Brooklyn residency Thursday night during the last televised debate before early voting begins on Saturday. Adams also released his E-ZPass toll records after rival Andrew Yang asked the Brooklyn borough president for proof he lived in the city, not in New Jersey.
The race for Manhattan District Attorney is heating up and New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli issued a warning to the city’s next mayor that the de Blasio administration’s proposed budget could leave the city’s next leader saddled with fiscal distress.
Wiley Defends Gun Comments
Maya Wiley, national progressives’ pick for mayor, found herself on the defensive after comments made at Thursday’s debate. All five candidates who attended were asked if guns should be taken away from police. Four said no, but Wiley said she was “not prepared” to answer that question.
“No one is seriously talking about taking guns away from cops. Of course I don’t support that,” Wiley said Friday in a statement emailed by her campaign. “Sometimes armed police are the solution, but some problems we actually make worse when we bring in a cop who isn’t trained for the situation rather than a mental health specialist who can actually keep everyone safe.”
De Blasio May Not Give Endorsement
De Blasio said he has not decided whether to endorse a candidate. “I am going to take this one close to the end,” he told Brian Lehrer Friday on WNYC.
The mayor said he plans to vote in person on Election Day, and encouraged people to think about ranking candidates like pizza toppings, from favorite to least favorite.
“I would urge people, do not leave anything blank,” de Blasio said. “Leave off the people you absolutely can’t stand, push hard to see if you can find five choices in order.”
Just 14% of voters said de Blasio’s endorsement would make them more likely to support a candidate, in a poll conducted June 7-8 by PIX11/NewsNation/Emerson College. The poll found 39% would be less likely to back a candidate endorsed by de Blasio, while 47% said it would make no difference.
Stringer Calls for Climate Debate
City Comptroller Scott Stringer called for a chance to address climate change at a debate.
The next mayor will need a plan for flooding, climate change and resiliency, Stringer said Friday at a press event outside of the city Campaign Finance Board offices.
“The climate crisis is one of the most pressing challenges facing this generation and the next. And we’re running out of time to tackle it,” Stringer said. “The next mayor must come to City Hall ready to go. We can’t have a mayor on training wheels.”
Five leading candidates for New York City mayor on Thursday night participated in the last televised debate before early voting begins on Saturday. Moderators asked each of the panelists whether they believed Adams lived in the city, rather than New Jersey.
Yang said Adams’ “tour of the basement raised more questions for New Yorkers.” Former counsel to de Blasio Maya Wiley said it raised transparency questions, while Stringer quipped, “the only time I go to New Jersey is by accident.” Former city Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia called the whole situation “confusing.”
Adams made his plea, saying that he lives in Brooklyn and that he has not seen his partner, Tracey Collins, who lives in New Jersey, in two months. “I don’t live in Fort Lee, I live in Brooklyn,” Adams said.
Shortly after the debate, comedian Stephen Colbert posted on Twitter about the dust-up, which has spurred meme accounts on Twitter, including a spoof account dedicated to the contents of Adams’ refrigerator. While giving reporters a tour of his Brooklyn apartment on Wednesday, Adams, who is vegan, had salmon and sausage in the fridge, which he told reporters belonged to his son.
Candidates were asked at Thursday’s debate whether they would be able to get along with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has a notoriously rocky relationship with de Blasio. The fighting between the two men became a hindrance to governance during the pandemic, when the two sparred over Covid protocols and school openings.
The candidates were asked how they will repair the relationship. Stringer said an aggressive approach was necessary: “No one will steal my lunch money in Albany,” he said. “Albany will go after you.”
Adams criticized the Cuomo-de Blasio feud and pledged to hold joint press conferences together with the governor. Yang said that he has held a number of calls with Cuomo and knows his brother, Chris Cuomo, from Yang’s time as a CNN commentator. Garcia and Wiley both said the Cuomo-de Blasio relationship was toxic and aimed to build a better relationship with the governor, despite the fact that both women had called for Cuomo to step down over claims he sexually harassed multiple aides. Cuomo has denied the allegations.
The mayoral contenders were also asked about enacting congestion pricing in midtown Manhattan, which they all agreed with save for Yang, who said he wouldn’t be opposed to delaying the added commuter fees while New York’s economy gets back on track.
Manhattan DA’s Race Heats Up
The race to be Manhattan’s next top prosecutor is taking place amid a crime surge that has seen murders up more than 17% so far this year and anti-Asian hate crimes skyrocket 335%, according to New York Police Department statistics.
Current District Attorney Cyrus Vance, who isn’t seeking re-election, has been investigating former president Donald Trump for possible bank and mortgage fraud and is expected to decide whether or not to bring charges before he leaves office.
Adams Releases E-ZPass Records
Adams released his E-ZPass toll records for several government-owned cars on Thursday in an effort to provide evidence that he lived in New York City.
A Politico report this week drew scrutiny over whether the Adams was actually residing at the brownstone that he listed as his residence on mayoral paperwork. The article suggested he might be still sleeping at his Brooklyn Borough Hall office, which he stayed at overnight during the depths of Covid, or at a New Jersey home he owns with his partner. The campaign denied such claims.
Adams made trips to New Jersey over the George Washington Bridge or through the Lincoln Tunnel on six different weekends between July 2020 and February 2021, according to toll records shared with Bloomberg News.
Adams called the questions over his residency “silly” at a Thursday campaign stop at a Brooklyn rally for bus operators and transit workers who were calling for more safety protections in light of crime against transit workers.
At the Thursday event, Adams also reversed course and said he would now attend a televised mayoral forum airing on CBS Thursday night after rivals accused him of trying to avoid answering questions about where he lived.
Fiscal Warning for Next Mayor
The next mayor is about to inherit a city that’s recovering but setting itself up for potential financial harm if he or she uses federal stimulus money to pay for new services, according to a report released Thursday by the state comptroller.
While de Blasio plans to use more two-thirds of the $15 billion in federal stimulus on short-term measures to boost the recovery and Covid 19-related expenses, his $98.6 billion budget proposal for the fiscal year beginning July 1 also relies on non-recurring federal aid to pay for ongoing programs like pre-kindergarten for three-year-olds, DiNapoli warned.
By fiscal 2025, the city would incur more than $1 billion in recurring costs for proposed new services, including funding for 4,365 positions, that are paid for with nonrecurring resources, the report said.
“Ultimately, setting priorities for recurring spending now will leave the repercussions of funding decisions to the incoming mayoral administration,” DiNapoli said. “Enhancing reserves and identifying options for cost efficiencies would provide the next administration with flexibility to manage the recovery in its ensuing stages.”
Yang was endorsed by the 20,000-member Uniformed Firefighters Association, whose president decried 2003 closings of six engine companies and said the department has become smaller while firefighters’ workload has become heavier.
“Andrew Yang has shown that he understands the difficulties that firefighters face in a city that does not prioritize adding fire companies and staffing to meet the ever expanding needs of NYC,” union President Andrew Ansbro said in a statement.
Among other uniformed labor, the Police Benevolent Association and the Corrections Officers’ Benevolent Association have not yet endorsed a candidate. The Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association backed Garcia, the former commissioner of sanitation.
Garcia Proposes Jobs for Young Adults
Garcia on Thursday unveiled a plan to offer guaranteed jobs for more than 90,000 New Yorkers between the ages of 16 to 24, in a push to combat the rise of crime. The cost of employing those individuals — $2 billion to $3 billion — is a fraction of the expense of jailing them, according to her plan outline.
“I don’t want to be a mayor who spends more money on youth incarceration,” Garcia, 51, said at a campaign event in Brooklyn.
The jobs proposal comes two days before the start of early voting. The program would launch in the first year of her administration and would be funded initially with stimulus dollars, she said.
Garcia also plans to expand family and care-giving paid leave, and to create a pipeline from city colleges and trade schools to guarantee graduates a path to city employment by working with the private sector. Garcia also proposed offering 10,000 paid internships to high school students.
The number of candidates paid and the amount disbursed are higher than any mayoral race in the New York City Campaign Finance Board’s history, chair Rick Schaffer said on Thursday.
So far, the board has paid $32 million to seven mayoral candidates. Former Citigroup banker Ray McGuire is the only one among leading contenders who declined to participate in the matching funds program. The campaign-finance board will issue the final round of public funds to candidates on June 17, ahead of the June 22 Democratic primary.
Across all city races, including the mayor, comptroller and council races, candidates were paid $96 million in public funds, compared to $60 million of private funds raised, Schaffer said during a board meeting.
The program matches small-dollar contributions from city residents. Rules were altered in 2018 to increase the matching rate and lower contribution limits.
“Small contributions from city residents are playing a pivotal role in the race for the city’s mayor,” he said. “Voters have a more and more diverse field to choose from when they start voting this weekend.”