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Crime often exceeded polls as the main voter concern, toppling Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams – a former police captain who almost exclusively made promises to restore the city’s security – to first place and the effects of Defund NYPD -Movement minimized that gained a foothold in city politics last year.
“New Yorkers feel that energy,” Adams told reporters in Manhattan on Tuesday morning, reiterating his campaign promise to stem shootings.
Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, former hygiene officer Kathryn Garcia and former de Blasio attorney Maya Wiley have topped the crowded race for the past few weeks. Yang and Garcia were the only ones to form a late alliance in the race, a common move in other ranking campaigns around the country.
The Democratic candidate will not be officially identified until the city’s electoral board publishes its postal voting list on July 6th. Another expansion of ballot counting is the advent of ranked voting, which allows New Yorkers to pick up to five candidates for each select position. The system kicks in when no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote in the first round. The board of directors plans to announce preliminary results of the ranking polls on June 29th.
Yang spent months in first place after breaking into the primary with high profile and a relentlessly positive message. He ran an ad riding the famous Cyclone roller coaster to announce the city’s comeback, put on a show where he and his wife bought movie tickets when the theaters reopened, and campaigned against the powerful teachers’ union against school closings.
But the city’s steady reopening throughout the spring took the wind out of Yang’s sails, and his campaign stalled due to a number of public mistakes that critics said showed what they had feared all along: A candidate who had never voted in a mayoral election during his tenure for 25 years in the city lacked the municipal expertise for the job.
Sensing the growing public concern about crime, Yang took a strong stance on the fight against crime, but it was difficult to wrest the problem from Adams, who was in the police force for 22 years and spoke openly about it as a black teenager in Queens Police officers assaulted.
The two developed a bitter rivalry which came to the fore during the televised debates. Yang has recently begun questioning Adams’ true place of residence after describing a story by POLITICO with confusing answers and botched paperwork about his place of residence.
Adams and his deputies even went so far as to accuse Yang and Garcia of attempting to suppress the voters of black New Yorkers by banding together in the final days of the race. They said their joint appearances were part of a strategy to appeal to each other’s supporters, but Adams slammed the deal, at one point invoking head taxes, which were used to suppress black voices.
Garcia, who was de Blasio’s municipal hygiene officer for seven years, made a surprising surge in her first application for public office. She lagged behind in the polls and struggled with fundraising, but coveted support from the New York Times and Daily News helped her catapult her into the top group late enough in the race that she did not suffer many negative attacks. In the past few weeks, Adams has started showing ads attacking her.
Wiley, the leading progressive candidate, competed with municipal auditor Scott Stringer and nonprofit CEO Dianne Morales for attention and support and didn’t gain enough momentum until each of their campaigns imploded.
Wiley decided to take part in the race last summer when the city was gripped by protests against police accountability that matched her passion and experience. But the ground was changing below her, and her law enforcement reform agenda did not meet the wishes of a majority of voters.
In the election of their candidates on Tuesday, voters also commented on the new electoral system and gave diverse reactions.
“I like having the option,” said Shannon Sciaretta, 24, of Queens. “Instead of picking a candidate, I can pick a bunch of them and maybe one of them will stay.”
Others were less enthusiastic.
“I thought the whole thing sucks,” said 66-year-old retiree R. Reiser after casting his vote on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. “There are so many candidates and there are so many offices and the information available was really hard to come by … you don’t know what someone stands for.”