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NEW YORK – Mayoral candidate Andrew Yang accused front runner Eric Adams of secretly living in New Jersey and candidate Maya Wiley refused to keep police armed during a CBS televised debate Thursday, 12 days before the election.
The confrontation began with questions about Adams’ residence after POLITICO this week described inconsistencies in official documents regarding the Brooklyn District President’s permanent address and the unusual hours he keeps in his government office in Borough Hall.
“Eric is literally trying to convince New Yorkers of where he lives and that he lives in his basement,” Yang said in his opening, calling Adams “hypocritical” for attacking Yang’s decision to leave Manhattan during the heyday, to leave his second home in New Paltz following the pandemic last year.
Wiley piled up and said Adams should be aware of how much money he is making from his tenants. POLITICO had previously reported that no rental income had been mentioned in its tax returns for three years; Adams said he updated the returns but his team hasn’t released them yet.
Adams said he lives in the basement of his Bedford-Stuyvesant townhouse and on Wednesday allowed reporters to inspect his windowless bedroom and crowded rooms to prove residency. During the debate, he took the opportunity to promote his humble roots and workaholic approach.
Five of the eight leading Democrats were invited to the CBS debate. Shaun Donovan, Ray McGuire, and Dianne Morales were excluded from the polls due to their rankings.
When the hour-long exchange centered on public safety – which polls show is a major concern for New Yorkers in light of the rise in gun violence – one candidate stood on the sidelines.
Wiley, a lawyer who served as government attorney for Mayor Bill de Blasio for two years before heading his police accountability body, would not commit to allowing police officers to hold guns.
She began to answer the question of whether she would take firearms from officers by saying that security is “job one”. At the urging of presenter Marcia Kramer, Wiley said: “I am not ready to make this decision in a debate.”
After the debate, her campaign tried to clean up her answer: “This is a ridiculous question; Nobody even discusses taking weapons away from police officers – Maya would clearly not do that, ”said spokeswoman Julia Savel.
The other four candidates – Adams, Yang, former Hygiene Officer Kathryn Garcia, and City Comptroller Scott Stringer – agreed to allow police officers to carry guns.
“My first act as mayor will be to go to the police and say we need you,” Yang added.
The candidates agreed on questions of regulating the secondhand smoke of marijuana, changing street names to slave owners and eliminating license plates for bicycles.
Everyone but Yang agreed that congestion prices should be introduced immediately – he said he was open to flexibility in timing.
In a tense exchange, Wiley brought up an audit Stringer had recently conducted under the guise of camaraderie with the ex-commissioner of Garcia’s tenure as head of the city sanitation department, presumably to attack the auditor for a purely political act. That exchange opened the door to criticism of Garcia’s efficiency at the head of the uniforms department, which she has denied.
And the five candidates were asked quite lightly what they couldn’t live without.
Stringer said coffee; Wiley expressed her devotion to her children and cats; Garcia expressed her desire for a manicure; and Yang answered his wife Evelyn. Perhaps the most interesting answer came from Adams – a bubble bath with rose petals.