On Thursday, June 10, WCBS Channel 2 hosted the last televised debate between candidates in the Democratic Primary for Mayor before the start of early voting. A significant portion of the time was wasted discussing where people live. Most of the debate focused on serious questions.
The participating candidates were New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, Former Counsel to the Mayor Maya Wiley, and former Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang. Following are some of the issues that were presented and the candidates’ answers.
Will you take guns away from the police?
Garcia, Stringer, Adams, and Yang would not. Wiley was not prepared to make that decision in a public debate. All stressed the need for public safety. Adams and Garcia stressed the need to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. Adams stressed the need to train police in how to use guns safely. He described an incident in which he, as a police officer, wrestled a knife out of the hands of a potential assailant on the subway because he did not want to risk harming other passengers. Yang stressed that public safety is the key to the city’s economic recovery, and we should recruit more police who reflect the diversity of the city. Wiley said the city needs to invest more money in community-based organizations, not in hiring more police officers.
How do you change the culture of violence?
Garcia, Adams, Wiley, and Yang emphasized the importance of mental healthcare and the need for mental health professionals and the police to work together. Yang said we should get people the help they need whether or not they ask for it. Garcia spoke about the need for supportive housing for the homeless. Stringer and Adams stressed the importance of education, with Stringer calling for two teachers in every classroom and after-school programs to keep kids off the street. Adams said that children who age out of foster care are feeding the criminal justice system. Yang noted that the man who sucker-punched an Asian woman was arrested eight times in the past year and asked why such a person is being released to commit more crimes. Everything from the police, the district attorneys, and the bail laws needs to be examined. Wiley said we don’t need more police; we need more trauma-informed care.
What will you do to ensure that you have a good working relationship with Governor Cuomo?
Stringer said his 13 years of service in the State Assembly taught him how Albany works and prepared him to fight for the city’s fair share. Adams, as a police officer, did not fight with his partner; he worked with him. He will put his ego aside and work with the Governor and the State Legislature to address the city’s problems. Wiley worked with the Governor’s office and the State Legislature to pass legislation to help women and minority-owned businesses by mobilizing constituents. Yang emphasized that the job of the mayor is to deliver for the people of the city. Instead of looking to score cheap political points, he will work with the Governor and the State Legislature. Garcia said fights between the Mayor and the Governor hurt the city. People don’t care who runs the MTA; they just want to get to work on time.
Should congestion pricing (charging people to drive in most parts of Manhattan when traffic is heaviest) be enacted now or delayed?
Wiley, Garcia, Stringer, and Adams all agreed that congestion pricing should be enacted immediately. (Adams and Garcia said the money should be used for mass transit.) Wiley proposed that the city bail out taxi drivers. Yang said that 80 percent of the office space in midtown Manhattan is vacant. There is a need to accelerate the recovery and he will be flexible on when to enact congestion pricing.
Should licenses be required for bicycles?
All agreed that cyclists who break the law should be ticketed, but bicycles should not require licenses. Adams said licenses should be required for e-bikes and any vehicle that goes above a certain number of miles per hour. Garcia said all motorized vehicles should be licensed. Wiley said we need better open space management. Stringer called for more bus lanes and walkways and giving free bicycles to all high school students.
With marijuana laws changing, is there a need to restrict the areas where people can smoke marijuana?
Yang, Wiley, Garcia, and Stringer all support the legalization of marijuana. Adams expressed concern, saying we would not want children smoking marijuana on the way to school or healthcare professionals to smoke a joint before performing surgery. We should make clear that marijuana impedes judgment. All the candidates agreed that the laws of where you can smoke marijuana should be the same as for cigarettes. Wiley, Garcia, and Stringer all maintained that the old marijuana laws discriminated against people of color. Garcia proposed spending the revenue from taxes on marijuana in the neighborhoods where people were arrested. Stringer called for cannabis equity, saying that children of people who had been arrested should have the first shot at getting a license to sell cannabis.
Should names of place named for slaveholders be changed?
With different nuances, all agreed that the names should be changed.