It’s Debate Night for New York City’s Next Mayor

Tonight, after months of campaigning on Zoom, New York City’s Democratic mayoral candidates will meet for their first live in-person debate in advance of the June primary. The city’s consequential Covid election boasts a highly qualified, remarkably diverse and, well, expansive field of candidates. Over the last several weeks, Howard Wolfson, a senior adviser to Mike Bloomberg and a former New York City deputy mayor and political consultant, has conducted extensive interviews with the top candidates. For voters who want to get up to speed on the men and women vying to lead New York City’s post-pandemic recovery — and the contest remains wide open thanks to ranked-choice voting — the following conversations are a good place to start.

The debate will take place at 4 p.m. New York time Wednesday, April 28, on the radio at 77WABC and streaming live on

  • Eric Adams: “In order for our city to prosper, we must be safe and we must finally stop the inefficiencies in this city in our agencies that are continually leading to the inequities and injustices. Taxpayers’ dollars are going to systems that are creating our crises. Our taxpayers are doing their job, now it’s time for government to do its job.”
  • Shaun Donovan: “Usually the change candidate has the least experience. I actually have the most, compared with the other candidates who aren’t part of the current government in New York City. I’m the only one that has real experience in government. And so what we’re finding is that’s what New Yorkers want.”
  • Kathryn Garcia: “I am the best candidate who matches what New Yorkers are looking for right now. They want someone with a proven record as the go-to crisis manager. Voters want a problem solver who puts hard work above political platitudes. Voters want a clear agenda to get s*** done.” 
  • Ray McGuire: “When people match the name to what we’re trying to accomplish and the track record of what we have done to improve lives — [creating] jobs, being a mentor, creating wealth — that’s what New Yorkers want. That’s what I’m going to do for New York. This ain’t about me. This is about we. And at a crucial, crucial moment in this city’s history.”
  • Dianne Morales: “I’m not going to keep letting other people define what kind of spaces I can be in or how I can be in those spaces. Now it’s bigger than me. It’s not just about me now. It’s about all others who are like me and what it symbolizes for me to be in this race in terms of claiming space for people that have historically not been given a seat at the table.”
  • Scott Stringer: “There’s a lot that I’ve been grappling with in the past year to try to figure out what kind of city we want to build back, what kind of economy we want to build back. I don’t think we can reopen this town the same way we closed it. It speaks to a new approach in government and city government. And I’m going to have an opportunity to create an opportunity for that change.”
  • Maya Wiley: “I'm running for mayor not because I want the accolades and not because I am a politician. I recognize in this moment that it is critically important to have the skills, but also to feel the pulse of the city and understand what the job takes. I sat in that very hot kitchen and I know what it's like to try to cook in it.”
  • Andrew Yang: “Our city is wounded. There is no guarantee we come back from this. Again, if you are down 600,000 jobs and 60 million tourists, and people are questioning whether paying higher taxes and a premium on real estate is justified — there’s a lot of work to do. We need all hands on deck to help get our city heading in a better direction. That’s exactly the team I want to build.”

Wondering how to make your decision? Mayor Bill de Blasio offered some advice on that front in an extended interview with Wolfson: “There’s a wide range of people in this field, but this is the major leagues. Convince us that you have what it takes and that you can actually take ideas and put them into action. Where are the proof points? I think a lot of folks have their sort of understandable glib, immediate proof points, but this is a crisis. This is not a typical year. Show us how you are actually going to move the levers of government on behalf of the people and bring the city back strong in an equitable fashion. How — not sound bites — are you going to actually do that? That would be my question.”

For all interviews in this series, click here.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

David Shipley is senior executive editor of Bloomberg Opinion. He was deputy editorial page editor and op-ed page editor of the New York Times, and served in the Clinton administration as special assistant to the president and senior presidential speechwriter. Shipley is co-author of “Send,” a guide to email.

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