What To Expect During Tonight’s NYC Mayoral Debate

Maya Wiley next to Andrew Yang at Freelance Union Endorsement Ceremony

Who Will Be NYC’s Next Mayor?

Tonight (5/13) from 7pm to 9pm the candidates for the New York City Mayoral Race are set to square off in a virtual debate. The event can be seen on Spectrum News NY1 and Spectrum Noticias NY1, as well as on those sites’ Facebook pages. 

With less than two months until the June 22 primary, more than eight candidates remain in the race: Eric Adams, Shaun Donovan, Kathryn Garcia, Raymond J. McGuire, Dianne Morales, Scott M. Stringer, Maya Wiley and Andrew Yang.

Former Presidential candidate Andrew Yang is currently considered the favorite in the field, however his lead has been waning. Brooklyn Borough President and former police officer Eric Adams is just behind Yang in the polls. Yang and Adams are both politically fluid, but reside somewhere towards the center-left. Adams was a registered Republican until 2001 and Yang’s policy proposals often straddle the line between libertarian and neoliberal. 

Other prominent candidates include Kathryn Garcia, a former city sanitation commissioner who surprised the field of candidates by grabbing the coveted New York Times endorsement. Garcia, much like Yang and Adams is considered a moderate Democrat. All three are opposed to wide-scale police reform. 

Many considered City Comptroller Scott Stringer to be the strongest progressive candidate in the race, but his campaign has been busy managing sexual assault allegations brought on by Jean Kim, a political lobbyist who once worked with Stringer. 

Maya Wiley, an attorney, activist, and MSNBC personality is also lauded as a potential progressive Mayoral candidate. Wiley is the largest beneficiary of Stringer’s drop in the polls and has been consistently gaining ground in the race. Her primary policy objective is a $10 Billion plan named the “New York New Deal,” which aims to create jobs and update infrastructure.

To the left of both Stringer and Wiley, and widely considered the “most progressive candidate” is Dianne Morales. Morales has been running for the Mayoral seat since 2019, and is proposing slashing the NYPD’s budget and creating the “Community First Responders Department.”  

Candidate Shaun Donovan is somewhere between Yang and Morales on the political spectrum. Donovan worked under Mike Bloomberg during his tenure as Mayor, and also worked in the Obama administration. His polls have been stagnant in the 2021 race, but in the final weeks of the campaign Donovan’s ties to Bloomberg may pay off in the form of large ad buys. 

Lastly is Raymond J. McGuire, who was the vice chairman of Citigroup for 15 years. McGuire comes from the world of finance and would bring a capitalist’s approach to governance. He was recruited to run by New York City business interests and has been polling poorly.However, McGuire has more endorsements from rappers than any other candidate – Jay-Z, Nas, and Diddy have all thrown their support behind him.

Ranked Choice Voting

An extremely important factor in this year’s NYC Mayoral race is that it’s the first time that ranked choice voting will be used in an NYC mayoral election. 

For most New Yorkers, this will be their first time voting using a ranked choice system. According to the New York City Civic Engagement Commission, voting will work as such: 

“You can rank up to five candidates in order of preference, instead of choosing just one. If a candidate receives more than 50% of first-choice votes, they are the winner. If no candidate earns more than 50% of first-choice votes, then counting will continue in rounds. At the end of each round, the candidate with the fewest votes will be eliminated. If you ranked that candidate first, your vote will go to the next highest ranked candidate on your ballot. This process will continue until there are 2 candidates left. The candidate with the most votes wins.”

Ranked choice voting is practiced because it gives the voters a louder voice. It’s a way to ensure that the candidate that the people most approve of gets the job. This system of voting is used in Ireland, Australia, and a number of American states. 

This means that it’s important to know the difference between candidates and to have a strong idea of who your favorites are. Six weeks out of the Mayoral primary, the contest is wide open. Make sure to tune into tonight’s debate to see who best represents you.

For those who missed our townhall with some of the top candidates for New York City mayor, watch below.