Morales Fires Staff; Adams Gives NYC Home Tour: Election Update

New York mayoral candidate Dianne Morales fired campaign staff amid an effort to unionize. Rival Eric Adams drew scrutiny over his residency after a Politico report suggested he isn’t living in the Brooklyn apartment he listed when registering for his candidacy.

Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, led the race in a new internal poll released by mayoral rival Andrew Yang. New York City’s police union said it wouldn’t endorse a candidate until someone proclaimed their support for the cops “clearly and emphatically.”

Key Developments:

Yang Has a Housing Plan

Yang said he wants to turn empty offices and hotels into housing for New Yorkers. In a virtual interview hosted by the Real Estate Board of New York, a prominent industry group that lobbies on behalf of brokers and developers, Yang said that re-purposing older buildings would help fill an urgent need for affordable housing.

The former presidential candidate said it’s vital to tackle public safety in the city, in order to attract New Yorkers back to offices, schools and theaters. He advocated for more resources and detectives to target gun violence and reduce homelessness. Yang cautioned against defunding the police, stating that the New York Police Department will be “front and center” in restoring safety.

“I want to be a pro-development, pro-building mayor and also pro-small business,” Yang said. “We just need energy in the city, we need dynamism, we need growth, we need competence -- it does start with public safety.”

Yang has received support from leaders in the real estate industry. Douglas Durst, chairman of the Durst Organization and REBNY, has donated to Yang’s campaign. Executives at Related, the builder behind Hudson Yards project, and SL Green Realty Corp. have also donated to him.

More Turmoil for Morales Campaign

The Morales campaign has terminated more than 40 staff members who participated in a work stoppage amid an effort to unionize, according to a Twitter post from the group.

Morales, a nonprofit executive, said she recognized the unionizing efforts but did not agree with many of their demands. They had sought revisions in pay and severance, the reinstatement of leaders and say in how money raised for the campaign was spent, according to a letter posted on Twitter.

In a statement, Morales said she tried to negotiate a resolution and receive approval from the Campaign Finance Board to continue to pay them, but then the staff refused to agree to a professional mediator.

“We have reached a point where we can no longer risk possible liability by continuing to pay staff with public funds who are not working on behalf of the campaign,” she said. “The final date of payment is effective as of Wednesday, June 9, 2021.”

Progressive groups that once backed Morales or indicated support for her have shifted to civil-rights attorney Maya Wiley in recent days after key staffers left the Morales campaign. Wiley today picked up one of the last coveted endorsements with the backing of city Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.

Garcia Wants to Make Building Easier

Kathryn Garcia said she wants to make it easier to develop housing in New York. The former city sanitation commissioner touted exploring changes in zoning procedures, permits and using city funds to build more affordable units in a virtual interview hosted by REBNY.

Garcia, who has been rising in the polls after scoring endorsements from the New York Times and Daily News, also said that she will focus on dealing with rising crime by increasing the size of the gun suppression unit and investing in community-based programs. “Safety is paramount,” she said. “We have to double down and make it so that we are keeping the city safe.”

The rise in street-racing across New York is also a problem, she said. “Street-racing is in every community right now,” Garcia said. “Where did all these bikes come from? I’ve never seen them before. That’s traffic enforcement but that’s also talking to the people that sell them.”

Garcia hasn’t attracted large donations from the real estate industry like rivals Adams and Ray McGuire, the former Citigroup banker, but she has received contributions from developers including Helena Durst of the Durst Organization and Jeffrey and Ron Moelis of L+M Development Partners.

Adams Gives Brooklyn Home Tour

Adams invited reporters to a home in the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn on Wednesday as he sought to answer questions about his residence. A Politico report drew scrutiny over whether the Brooklyn borough president was actually residing at the brownstone that he listed as his residence on mayoral paperwork. The article suggested he might be still sleeping at his Brooklyn Borough Hall office, which he stayed at overnight during the depths of Covid, or at a home he owns with his partner in Fort Lee, New Jersey. The campaign denied such claims.

In an impromptu press conference held outside the home on Wednesday, he spoke alongside his son and invited television reporters inside his home for a tour, according to videos of bedrooms and the inside of his kitchen fridge that were posted on Twitter and showcased on local news channel NY1.

Adams’ campaign did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday but a spokesperson told Bloomberg News on Tuesday that he lived in Brooklyn.

Where Does Adams Live?

Rivals pounced on the Adams residency story. Wiley’s campaign spokesperson released a scathing attack on Adams, asking “does Eric Adams live in New Jersey?” and Yang’s campaign accused Adams of skipping a mayoral forum to avoid answering questions about where he lived. Yang called on Adams to release his E-ZPass records.

“Serious questions have been raised about the full-time residence of Eric Adams, questions that must be answered in full before voters head to the polls,’ former Citigroup Inc. banker Ray McGuire said in a statement.

Yang Slipping

Internal polling conducted for individual campaigns can sometimes be slanted in that candidate’s favor. But a June 1-6 survey of 1,191 likely voters, conducted by Brooklyn-based political consultant Slingshot Strategies for the Yang campaign, showed Adams with 17% of first-place votes, Yang in second with 16% and former city Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia third at 14%. At least 20% remain uncertain about their vote, according to the survey.

The poll showed Yang winning in head to head match-ups against every top competitor except Adams, beating city Comptroller Scott Stringer by eight percentage points; Wiley by 19 points and Garcia by four points. Voters preferred Adams to Yang in a one-on-one match-up, 44% to 42%, according to the poll.

The Police Vote

The Police Benevolent Association called on mayoral candidates to more emphatically support New York City officers if they wanted to win its endorsement.

“If these candidates want to make the city safer, they need to say — clearly and emphatically — that they will support New York City police officers in our public safety mission. No caveats, no futile attempts to appease anti-cop ideologues,” PBA President Patrick J. Lynch said in an email.

Lynch said the association has been in touch with a number of mayoral campaigns but has not decided whether it will endorse any candidate yet.

Policing and rising crime have become a top issue in the mayor’s race after a number of candidates pledged to redirect money from the force to other city programs.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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