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NYC mayoral candidates tackle surging crime, quality of life issues in debate

NYC mayoral candidates tackle surging crime, quality of life issues in debate

The top five Democratic candidates for mayor tackled some of the biggest problems plaguing New Yorkers during a debate on Thursday night — zeroing in on surging crime and other quality of life issues.

Asked how they would curb the recent uptick in violence, such as shootings and hate crimes, both Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and city Comptroller Scott Stringer said they would focus on reaching the Big Apple’s youth.

“We must have an intervention and prevention,” Adams said on the WCBS-TV stage.

“Prevention is the long-term things we must do. Something as simple as dyslexia screening. Thirty percent of our prison population … they’re dyslexic. So we want to stop crime, we have to have early childhood intervention.”

Stringer, meanwhile, said that, “We have to invest in our kids.”

“When we invest in kids we keep them away from the criminal justice system.”

Former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia called for an increased investment in mental health services: “Police and mental health professionals need to engage upfront, so we prevent the crime from ever happening,” she said.

Tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang brought up the recent shooting death of 10-year-old Queens boy Justin Wallace and the attack on an Asian woman in Chinatown, saying, “New Yorkers deserve to be safe on our own streets.”

“We have to get people who need help the help that they need, regardless of whether they have the capacity but raise their hands and seek it.”

Kathryn Garcia talked about emphasizing mental health professionals in the city.
Kathryn Garcia talked about emphasizing mental health professionals in the city.
CBS2

Civil rights attorney and MSNBC pundit Maya Wiley also cited Wallace’s slaying in her answer, saying that the child “is not dead because we don’t have enough police officers.”

“He is dead, because we have never in this city done the very thing that communities … have been asking us for, which is trauma-informed care in our schools, which is in my plan.”

Policing — which has been a major issue throughout the campaign amid a spike in gun violence and calls to cut the NYPD’s budget — also came up early in the showdown, when the contenders were asked whether they would take guns away from cops.

Four of them — Adams, Garcia, Stringer and Yang — all pledged to let cops keep their guns.

Maya Wiley did not say if she would take weapons away from the NYPD.
Maya Wiley did not say if she would take weapons away from the NYPD.
CBS2

But Wiley wouldn’t say — even after being pressed at least twice on the issue by moderator Marcia Kramer.

“I am not prepared to make that decision in a debate,” Wiley, a former de Blasio administration official and Civilian Complaint Review Board chair, finally conceded.

“I am going to have a civilian commissioner and a civilian commission that is going to hold the police accountable and ensure we’re safe from crime but also from police violence.”

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Her campaign later issued the statement: “It’s a ridiculous question; no one is even discussing taking guns away from cops – clearly Maya wouldn’t.”

Later, Wiley was asked if she regretted her role in the “agents of the city” controversy in 2016, when she unsuccessfully pushed to keep secret Mayor Bill de Blasio’s e-mails with outside advisers.

“It’s very simple — that all I did was give the advice one gives a client and the client makes a decision,” she said, noting that she left the administration five years ago. “When I am mayor, there’s only going to be one decision, which is why it’s in my ethics plan.”

Eric Adams reaffirmed his NYC residence.
Eric Adams reaffirmed his NYC residence.
CBS2

Other mayoral hopefuls were also pressed on their respective scandals, including Adams, who recently faced claims he lives in New Jersey — and not Brooklyn — resulting in him becoming the target of a pile-on from some of the other candidates.

But Adams insisted: “I live in Brooklyn, New York. I’m proud of that.”

“We can play these silly conversations, but … I know what people are concerned about on the ground, because I’m on the ground.”

Adams, a former NYPD officer, also faced a charge that he flip-flops regarding his stance on policing, with Yang claiming that “When Eric talks to some audiences, he said the cops love him, but then to other audiences, the cops can’t stand him.”

“No one can question my commitment around ending violence in this city,” Adams shot back. “No one on the stage can tell you they’ve put their life on the line to save New Yorkers.”

Andrew Yang said he would allow police officers to keep their guns.
Andrew Yang hit on the hot topic of e-bikes and scooters.
CBS2

Meanwhile, Stringer was asked about the sexual misconduct allegations against him — and claimed to have been misquoted in a New York Times article about a woman who claimed he kissed and groped her without her consent in 1992 when she was working as a waitress at a bar he managed.

“Well the allegations are not true, they’re allegations that go back 20-30 years, I’ve done my best to answer every question and I’ll continue to do it tonight. But I’m glad you brought up the mess part because I was misquoted and then requoted accurately,” he said.

“I cannot tell you exactly where those allegations come from, but I can tell you — and I mean this — if there’s in any way I’ve made anyone in my entire life uncomfortable, I certainly apologize for that,” he added.

Other quality of life issues the candidates touched on included the new state law legalizing recreational marijuana — with Adams being the only one on stage who expressed reservations.

“I’m concerned about the marijuana laws altogether,” he said. “This can impact on how you respond, it can impair your judgment, so when we talk about legalizing here and how it’s going to be rolled out in the city we need to have clear instructions.”

Scott Stringer was pressed on groping allegations against him.
Scott Stringer was pressed on groping allegations against him.
CBS2

Yang, meanwhile, brought up the scourge of e-bikes and scooters, saying “We do need to make sure that people aren’t traveling at speeds that are going to be dangerous for families that are crossing the crosswalk.”

One topic all the mayoral contenders agreed on was that the city should rename places named after slaveholders.

“We should not honor people that have had an abusive past,” Adams said.

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About the author

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Raymond Hicks

With a knack for storytelling, Raymond started The Madison Leader Gazette about a year ago. Covering substantial topics under the US & World section, he helps information seep in deeper with creative writing and content management skills.

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