New York

N.Y.C. Mayor Debate Live Updates: Candidates Respond to Eric Adams Residency Controversy

Credit…Dave Sanders for The New York Times

The possibility raised by his Democratic rivals that Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, lives in New Jersey, and not in Brooklyn as he has maintained, raises the issue of whether he is legally eligible to become New York City’s next mayor.

The law seems to say: Yes he can.

For one, even if he did live in New Jersey, state law only says that he has to be living in New York City on Election Day in November, according to the state’s board of elections.

It’s not disputed that Mr. Adams owns a multiunit townhouse on Lafayette Avenue, in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, which he says is his primary residence; the focus of the news media’s recent interest is how many days and nights he spends there, versus at a property he owns in New Jersey.

The text of the state law governing residency states that “residence” means a “place where a person maintains a fixed, permanent and principal home and to which he, wherever temporarily located, always intends to return.” Election law experts said courts have generally been generous in interpreting what residency means for candidates.

Courts have typically allowed candidates to have two residences, and they can select one as their “political home,” said Martin Connor, an election lawyer who was a state senator for 30 years until 2008.

Mr. Connor said courts have at times allowed people to claim a place as their residence even if they stay there only two nights a week. He said that Mr. Adams staying with his girlfriend in New Jersey “doesn’t obviate his Brooklyn residence.”

“Usually you’re OK if you got an apartment, you got a bed, you got a refrigerator, particularly if you own the building,” he said.

“I don’t live in New Paltz,” Eric Adams said, a dig at Andrew Yang, who spent significant parts of the pandemic in the Hudson Valley and has been criticized by his rivals for it.

Maya Wiley addresses a legislative proposal from Albany, which would significantly raise the bar for the police firing their weapons, and would require that the police only use lethal force as a “last resort.”

Andrew Yang goes after Adams, saying he never held a Zoom forum from the Brooklyn basement apartment where he says he lives. Important to note that Yang has been criticized himself for living upstate at the height of the pandemic.

Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, had a long career with the police department before moving into politics.
Credit…James Estrin/The New York Times

Eric Adams is among the most politically seasoned candidates in the race: Before being elected to his current job as Brooklyn borough president, he was a state senator. He began his career in the Police Department, rising to captain while pushing for reform as a result of his own experience being beaten by officers as a teenager.

Mr. Adams, 60, has run as a political moderate, opposing calls to defund the police while proposing to publicly identify officers whom the Police Department is monitoring for bad behavior. Other elements of his platform include giving New Yorkers a real-time ratings for how government agencies perform, appointing an “efficiency czar” and using drones to perform building inspections.

Some of Mr. Adams’s critics claim that he is too cozy with real estate interests, and they have noted that he was a registered Republican from 1995 to 2002.

He has also faced several ethics investigations, including one that found he violated conflict-of-interest rules by soliciting money for a nonprofit organization he controls from donors who had business with the city.

Leading up to the debate, Mr. Adams has faced questions about whether he lives part-time in New Jersey, with rivals linking the issue to other questions about his transparency, as well as to a previous report that he failed to list rental income on his tax returns.

Eric Adams held an emotional news conference outside of the townhouse he owns in Bedford-Stuyvesant on Wednesday. He choked up for more than a minute, his lips quivering and a tear rolling down his face, as he explained that he became fiercely protective of his privacy when he was a police officer and someone shot at his car just after his son was born.

Eric Adams is wearing a broad smile on his face as he says, “I live in Brooklyn, I live in Bedford-Stuyvesant”

Scott Stringer, the city comptroller, has cast himself as a progressive candidate with deep management experience.
Credit…Jordan Gale for The New York Times

Scott M. Stringer, the city comptroller, has worked in and around politics and government for decades. He served on a community planning board as a teenager and rose steadily through New York City’s Democratic ranks from there.

He was a district leader, a state assemblyman and the Manhattan borough president before defeating former Gov. Eliot Spitzer in the 2013 Democratic primary on the way to becoming comptroller.

Mr. Stringer, 61, has cast himself as both a progressive candidate and a seasoned government veteran who is prepared to “manage the hell out of the city” from his first day as mayor.

His bid has been complicated by two allegations of unwanted sexual advances from decades ago, both of which he has denied. A number of progressive officials who had endorsed him no longer do, but he has retained some support from labor groups, most notably the teachers’ union.

Kathryn Garcia says she found the reports over where Eric Adams lives “confusing” and chooses to focus on her record as a crisis manager. “I’m the person who can deliver on impossible problems,” she says.

Kathryn Garcia, the former sanitation commissioner, has developed a reputation as a problem solver and crisis manager.
Credit…Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times

Kathryn Garcia was one of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s senior cabinet members until last fall, when she left her job as sanitation commissioner to prepare for her campaign for mayor.

Ms. Garcia, 51, has never sought elected office before, but she has an extensive city government résumé and developed a reputation as a go-to problem solver during crises. She has campaigned on that experience and her knowledge, hoping it would resonate voters.

After flying under the radar, Ms. Garcia’s campaign began to pick up steam in recent weeks, particularly after endorsements from the editorial boards of The New York Times and The Daily News.

The wider name recognition has brought more attention to her policy positions and track record at the Sanitation Department, where she oversaw vast programs that are vital to making New York function, including trash collection and snow removal.

But as she has gained more support, she has also faced attacks from her rivals that were absent during the earlier phases of the campaign.

After being the front-runner in available polling for months, Andrew Yang dropped to third in a recent poll as Eric Adams and Maya Wiley, who have been locked in a fight over crime and public safety, surged. Yang starts the debate going directly at Adams.

Maya Wiley is a civil rights lawyer who says her “New Deal New York” plan would create 10,000 affordable housing units and 100,000 jobs.
Credit…Hilary Swift for The New York Times

Maya D. Wiley is a civil rights lawyer and former MSNBC analyst who was counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio and chair of the Civilian Complaint Review Board during his first term.

As a candidate, she has promoted a $10 billion “New Deal New York” plan that she says would create 100,000 jobs, finance public works and climate-related projects, create 10,000 affordable housing units and pay for the hiring of 2,500 new teachers.

Ms. Wiley, 57, has also pledged to redirect money from the Police Department to community-based groups to tailor their own violence-prevention programs, and to hire a civilian as police commissioner.

She has attracted support from liberal groups and in recent weeks has picked up a number of endorsements from progressive lawmakers and organizations, particularly as other left-leaning candidates have stumbled.

But Ms. Wiley has also been criticized for her stewardship of the review board, a police-oversight agency that some people have said became too secretive in its disciplinary procedures on her watch.

Ms. Wiley has also come under fire for creating a special designation — “agents of the city” — for Mr. de Blasio’s outside advisers during her tenure as counsel. The designation allowed the mayor for a time to keep his communications with those advisers confidential.

First question for Andrew Yang: Does Eric Adams live in New York City? Yang says Adams has not been straightforward. “He’s been attacking me from New Jersey,” Yang said. “His tour of the basement raised more questions than it answered.”

Andrew Yang has cast himself as an optimistic cheerleader for New York’s recovery, though his tone has shifted somewhat in recent weeks.
Credit…James Estrin/The New York Times

Andrew Yang, who has a background in nonprofit management, rose to prominence last year as a presidential candidate with a platform that focused on providing a universal basic income to Americans.

Although he ranked low in the polls, Mr. Yang, 46, outlasted several candidates with more political experience. He ended the race with high name recognition and a national profile.

Before running for president, Mr. Yang had a mixed record as an entrepreneur. He has also been criticized for his lack of involvement in city politics before this year’s race — he has never voted in a mayoral election — and for his reliance on an outside consulting firm with ties to former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

Mr. Yang has positioned himself as New York City’s chief cheerleader, running for mayor as an optimistic government outsider. As the race has entered its final weeks, he has occasionally painted a darker picture of the city, in part to convince residents not to vote for contenders that he casts as status quo operators.

Mr. Yang has also sought to portray himself as the anti-poverty candidate, drawing from his presidential campaign’s best-known idea to propose giving about $2,000 a year to the poorest New Yorkers.

Hi, I’m Emma Fitzsimmons, the City Hall bureau chief for The New York Times. My colleagues and I will be offering live analysis from the third major Democratic debate in the race for mayor. It’s starting now on CBS 2, featuring five leading candidates and moderated by the journalists Maurice DuBois and Marcia Kramer. It is also being live-streamed on the CBS New York website.

Supporters rallied outside the CBS Broadcast Center before the debate.
Credit…Hilary Swift for The New York Times

Because of pandemic-related rules, tonight’s debate will not have an audience. But that didn’t keep a swarm of shouting, sign-waving supporters from gathering outside the CBS Broadcast Center in Manhattan as the candidates arrived this afternoon.

Dozens of people supporting Andrew Yang dominated the sidewalk east of the studio, but Eric Adams had backers in roughly equal numbers spilling onto 57th Street, much to the visible concern of police officers trying to keep the street clear. A mix of supporters for Maya Wiley, Scott M. Stringer and Kathryn Garcia massed on the curb across the street from the entrance.

Mr. Yang’s supporters were blasting a recording of “Yang For NY,” a campaign recorded by MC Jin. Mr. Adams’s camp had a customized campaign song of its own, with a rapid-fire beat and a refrain in Spanish: “Sí se puede.”

“This is the biggest pre-debate rally I’ve seen,” said Bryan Clampitt, 58, a Chelsea resident who is backing Ms. Wiley. He attributed the energy outside the studio to a tightening race. “I think it’s about momentum,” he said.

Mr. Adams, who was the last of the five candidates to commit to participating in the debate, was also the final one to arrive. Smiling, he slowly made his way through a throng of demonstrators, including a number of Mr. Yang’s supporters who were chanting, “The status quo has got to go!”

Mr. Yang has sought to himself as a candidate of change, urging voters to choose him over his rivals, all of whom he said would preserve politics as usual. He arrived at the debate a few minutes before Mr. Adams, walking west on 57th Street toward his admirers, who surrounded him and handed him a microphone and a bullhorn.

Mr. Yang, to cheers, promised to “turn the page on the politics of the past” and to lead “a government that works for the people of this city.”

As he finished speaking, Ms. Garcia made a comparatively quiet entrance, gliding through the front door of the studio.

Marcia Kramer is the chief political correspondent for CBS.
Credit…Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

The moderators of tonight’s debate on WCBS-TV are, appropriately enough, two of the station’s broadcast journalists: Marcia Kramer and Maurice DuBois.

Ms. Kramer, the channel’s chief political correspondent, has been a political journalist in New York for decades. Before jumping to WCBS in 1990, she covered Albany and City Hall for The New York Daily News.

Ms. Kramer has been known for asking direct questions of elected officials and politicians. Notably, in 1992, she asked then-candidate Bill Clinton about his marijuana use, prompting his famous comment that he “did not inhale.”

She would later moderate a debate with Hillary Clinton during her successful 2000 bid for U.S. Senate, and she has questioned candidates in debates in past races for governor and mayor.

Credit…Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for The National Urban Technology Center

Mr. DuBois, an anchor for WCBS-TV’s 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts, has been a broadcast journalist in New York since 1997. He has covered past national political conventions in addition to more local races.

Along with Ms. Kramer, Mr. DuBois moderated a heated 2018 debate during the Democratic primary for governor between Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Cynthia Nixon.

Shaun Donovan, the former federal housing secretary, is one of three Democratic candidates who has participated in previous debates but won’t be on stage tonight.
Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times

The debate tonight will feature only five leading Democrats running for mayor: Eric Adams, Kathryn Garcia, Scott M. Stringer, Maya D. Wiley and Andrew Yang.

Mr. Adams had initially said he would not attend the debate, but changed his mind on Thursday.

Several other candidates who have appeared in other debates were not invited: Shaun Donovan, the former federal housing secretary; Raymond J. McGuire, a former Wall Street executive; and Dianne Morales, a former nonprofit executive.

Mike Nelson, a spokesman for CBS, said the hosts wanted to feature only the leading contenders and the decision was based on polling and the number of small-dollar contributions each candidate has.

Mr. Donovan’s campaign was upset that he did not receive an invite.

“It’s outrageous that CBS would put their thumb so heavily on the scale during a democratic election,” his campaign manager, Brendan McPhillips, said in a statement. “Not only have they failed to reach out to all of the candidates, they won’t even share the criteria for their arbitrary decision.”

The most recent polls have showed Mr. Adams in front, with Ms. Wiley, Mr. Yang and Ms. Garcia not far behind. Support for Mr. Stringer, the city comptroller, has fallen after he was accused of sexual misconduct by two women.

Mr. Donovan, Mr. McGuire and Ms. Morales were all at roughly 5 percent or less in recent polls. Mr. Donovan and Mr. McGuire have failed to take off as candidates despite raising large amounts of money. Ms. Morales has faced growing problems with her campaign staff.

Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, reversed course on Thursday and said he would debate four of his rivals.
Credit…Dave Sanders for The New York Times

In an effort to avoid a potentially “painful distraction” for the family of a slain child, Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, on Thursday reversed course and said he would in fact be participating in tonight’s debate.

In a two-part Twitter thread, Mr. Adams decried his opponents’ attempts to “politicize” a vigil for Justin Wallace, 10, who was killed last week in Rockaway, Queens, that Mr. Adams had been planning to attend in lieu of the CBS debate. Mr. Adams said that after speaking with a representative for the Wallace family, he had decided to skip the vigil and “continue to work with the family to bring an end to gun violence.”

Justin, who was just days shy of his 11th birthday, was shot and killed while opening the door to his aunt’s house. The police charged a suspect with murder on Tuesday, the same day that Justin had been planning to celebrate his birthday with a trip to an amusement park.

Various vigils had been planned for Justin this week, including one on Wednesday attended by three of Mr. Adams’s rivals, Andrew Yang, Maya D. Wiley, and Raymond J. McGuire, and another on Thursday organized by Justin’s school and written about in the Rockaway Times.

Mr. Yang had accused Mr. Adams of skipping the debate because he was afraid to answer tough questions, while one of Mr. Yang’s campaign managers claimed Mr. Adams had created his own vigil as an excuse to skip out on the debate.

Donovan Richards, the Queens borough president and a former councilman from Rockaway who has endorsed Mr. Adams, erupted in anger when asked about Mr. Yang’s contention.

“Stop trying to score political points on the back of a 10-year-old boy who should have been graduating,” he said Thursday. “You can go back to your home and sleep at night, but at the end of the night, every person has to lay their head on a pillow, and their pillow sheets are drenched.”

Mr. Adams’ team had also pointed that he was already participating in all three debates required by the city’s Campaign Finance Board, and this is not one of them.

“Andrew Yang fled the city at its darkest moment, so he really shouldn’t be accusing others of hiding,” said Menashe Shapiro, one of Mr. Adams’ campaign aides, referencing the fact that Mr. Yang spent at least part of the pandemic at his house in New Paltz, N.Y.

Supporters rallied outside the CBS Broadcast Center before the debate.
Credit…Hilary Swift for The New York Times

The third debate among Democratic candidates for mayor of New York City takes place Thursday evening from 7 to 8 p.m.

Unlike the two previous debates, only five of the leading candidates are set to attend. Kathryn Garcia, Scott M. Stringer, Maya Wiley and Andrew Yang had been planning to participate, and Eric Adams said on Thursday morning that he would also take part after initially planning to attend a vigil for a 10-year-old who was fatally shot in Queens instead.

The event is the last televised debate before the start of early voting on Saturday ahead of the June 22 primary. One more debate is scheduled for next Wednesday. The dynamics of the contest still appear largely fluid, and there has been little data to capture how several major recent developments are registering with voters.

Here are some of the ways you can watch and follow the debate:

  • Reporters from The New York Times will provide commentary and analysis throughout the hour.

  • The debate will be televised on CBS 2 New York and available on the outlet’s online streaming platforms.

  • A Spanish-language broadcast will be available on WLNY TV 10/55.

  • Listeners can also tune into the debate through the radio stations WCBS Newsradio 880 and 1010 WINS.

  • Other streams are often available on YouTube.

Left-wing lawmakers and leaders have made a major push to consolidate around Maya Wiley, center, seen here with one of her Democratic rivals, Andrew Yang, and Mr. Yang’s wife, Evelyn.
Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times

To borrow from mayoral candidate Dianne Morales, the Democratic primary for New York City mayor is shaping up to be a “beautiful mess” in its final stretch.

Two days before early voting begins, and with less than two weeks before the June 22 primary that will almost certainly determine the city’s next mayor, the contest appears unpredictable, increasingly rancorous and rocked by controversies, substantive and otherwise.

Five leading candidates will take the stage in the penultimate debate of the race on Thursday: Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president and presumed front-runner; Andrew Yang, the former presidential candidate; Kathryn Garcia, the former sanitation commissioner; Maya D. Wiley, a former counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Scott M. Stringer, the city comptroller.

Mr. Adams, Mr. Yang and Ms. Garcia had appeared to pull ahead in some sparse recent public polling. But Mr. Adams is likely to be a central focus of the debate as he contends with questions about his residency — he says that he lives in Brooklyn, and in fact has spent considerable time sleeping at Borough Hall. But rivals have questioned whether he is spending more of his time at a residence he co-owns with his partner in Fort Lee, N.J., and whether he is being truthful about where he lives.

Ms. Wiley and Mr. Stringer had been in competition for support from the most progressive forces in the Democratic Party. But last week, a second woman accused Mr. Stringer of making unwanted sexual advances when, she said, she worked at a bar he co-owned decades ago. Mr. Stringer said he did not recall the woman, Teresa Logan, but he said he apologized if he had made her uncomfortable. He has denied an initial allegation of making unwanted sexual advances during a 2001 campaign. The controversies halted his momentum, and a number of his supporters have abandoned him for Ms. Wiley and Mr. Adams.

Over the last week, left-wing lawmakers and leaders have made a major push to consolidate around Ms. Wiley: Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez backed her last weekend; Jumaane D. Williams, the New York City public advocate, did the same on Wednesday. Ms. Morales had also been contending for support from that wing of the party, but amid a campaign uprising and battle over unionizing efforts, she terminated dozens of workers this week, according to the union.

Ms. Morales, Shaun Donovan, a former federal housing secretary, and Raymond J. McGuire, a former Citi executive, have qualified for other debates, but not for the Thursday matchup.

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