For most of an hour on Wednesday, Eric Adams was accused of spending too much time with the “elites”, losing contact with the working class of New York, and is a replica of Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose popularity has steadily declined during his reign. possession.
Yet when given the opportunity to respond during New York’s first general debate, Mr. Adams – the typically talkative Democratic mayoral candidate – often smiled a serene smile instead.
Mr. Adams, the overwhelming favorite of the race, seemed to be approaching a match with his Republican opponent Curtis Plum, as if it were a City Hall commercial he had already received.
“I am reaching out to New Yorkers,” said Mr. Adams. “Not to mention buffoonery.”
Mr. Sliva, founder of the Guardian Angels and a lively public speaker, worked to unbalance the leader and sow doubts about his opponent that could change the trajectory of the race. There was little evidence that he succeeded.
Mr. Adams presented himself as a permanent ex-police captain preparing to walk past Mr. de Blasio and his divisive eight years of rule, and sought to chart a vision for a city still reeling from the pandemic and its aftermath. He relied heavily on his biography as a New York City worker with a personal experience of solving some of the most serious problems facing the city.
The debate, hosted by WNBC-TV and unfolding three days ahead of early voting, marks the most direct interaction between candidates to date as they vie for leadership in the country’s largest city.
For an hour, Mr. Adams and Mr. Sliva – both longtime New York community leaders with a vibrant past – argued over a wide range of issues facing the city over the new mandate to vaccinate urban workers (Mr. Adams supports mandate, Mr Sliwa does not) a pricing plan (again, heavily supported by Mr Adams, with Mr Sliva expressing serious concern) as to whether outdoor dining facilities should be left. (Mr Adams said yes, Mr Pliva said they should be downsized.)
At every turn, Mr. Sliva sought to undermine Mr. Adams’ credibility as a working class by criticizing his opponent’s support from developers and the approval he received from former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, even as he also tried to tie up Mr. Adams. Mr. de Blasio, making them both career politicians.
“How about doing something new and stopping trusting politicians like Eric Adams and de Blasio?” Mr Sliva said when he expressed his objections to entry pricing.
Mr Adams, for his part, highlighted his differences with Mr de Blasio in his first response to the question, suggesting that while he supported the mayor’s new mandate to vaccinate municipal employees, he would take a more collaborative approach to its implementation.
Mr. Adams, who has a meditation routine, seems to have been fully focused on overcoming many of Mr. Plum’s attacks. But he also sought to identify his Republican opponent early in the evening as an unreliable public figure with little track record. He repeatedly referred to Mr Sliva’s own confession that he had fabricated the crimes for publicity.
“New Yorkers are going to identify the person who wore body armor, protected the children and families of the city, and fought crime against the person who committed crimes so that he could be popular,” said Mr. Adams. “He invented crime, New Yorkers. This is a crime in itself. “
Given New York’s overwhelmingly democratic bias and Mr Plum’s reputation as a kind of famous gadfly, it is believed that Mr Adams is far more likely to win the November 2 election and is poised to become New York’s second black mayor. After winning the Democratic nomination in July, he spent most of his time focusing on fundraising and planning for the transition, and only started accelerating his public events schedule last week, reflecting his leadership status.
Mr. Sliva worked at every stage of the debate to nudge Mr. Adams into confrontation. At best, he managed to persuade Mr. Adams to complain from time to time that Mr. Plum was breaking the rules of debate by speaking too long.
But while Mr. Adams tried to avoid active communication with Mr. Sliva, on other occasions he found himself on the defensive, especially when he was pressed about his place of residence. He said his primary residence is an apartment in a tenement townhouse he owns in the Bedford Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn, but he had to resubmit his tax returns in part due to irregularities regarding his residence, among other things, the news agency reported. This was reported in the city.
Mr Adams said, as before, that he was taking responsibility for omissions on his tax returns, even as he blamed his accountant, who he said was homeless.
“He went through a real trauma,” Adams said of his accountant. “And I’m not a hypocrite, I still wanted to give him the support he needed.”
He assured that the mistake will not happen again.
Mr Adams is also a co-owner of a cooperative in Fort Lee, NJ with his partner, and he said he moved to Brooklyn Borough for a time after the outbreak of the pandemic. Mr. Sliva recently traveled from Manhattan to Fort Lee “to find out where Eric Adams actually lives.”
Mr Adams declined to indicate how many nights he spent in an apartment in Brooklyn in the past six months, but again said this was his primary residence.
Mr Sliva was also pressured over transparency and reliability issues.
“I’ve made mistakes,” he said when asked about staging crimes, a practice he called youthful stupidity. “I will continue to apologize for this, but I have earned the trust of New Yorkers. Just follow me through the streets and into the subway, I am there, I am the people’s choice. Eric Adams of the elite of suites. “
For all the stark differences between their candidacies, Mr Sliva and Mr Adams share some political similarities, reflecting Mr Adams’ stance as a relatively center-left Democrat and Mr Sliva’s more populist instincts. Indeed, the debate was much more civilized than Mr Sliva’s match during the Republican primaries. It was also less of a scuffle than some of the multi-candidate debate stage clashes that defined the Democratic Party’s crowded primaries earlier this year, where Mr. Adams often came under fire from multiple fronts.
Mr Sliva and Mr Adams are both focused on public safety issues and are supportive of expanding access to the gifted and talented in New York City schools, although they have not offered clear recipes for the fate of the controversial admissions test that governs the initiative.
But they, it seems, were not eager to find a common language. Mr. Sliva even took advantage of a hint designed to elicit a positive response – to nudge those New Yorkers who left during the pandemic to return – to attack Mr. Adams, asking if he really intended to fly to Florida and gather wayward residents New York as he promised.
In contrast, Mr. Adams promised a safe, interesting and diverse city.
“You will be bored in Florida,” he warned. “You will never be bored in New York.”