New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang broke with other candidates in a heated debate Wednesday night, acknowledging he would welcome support from current Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during the city’s next Democratic primary.
A debate moderator asked the eight candidates on stage during the live debate to raise their hands if they wanted approval from de Blasio and Cuomo, Democratic leaders who have faced bipartisan criticism of their leadership during the pandemic of coronavirus. In both cases, Yang was the only candidate to raise his hand.
Yang said he would welcome de Blasio’s support despite frequently targeting the mayor’s missteps during the debate. The former Democratic presidential candidate said he would characterize de Blasio’s tenure as “incomplete” because the mayor still had time not to “squander” the federal COVID-19 aid money.
Yang fended off attacks from other candidates throughout the debate, the first such in-person event during the race. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, former New York City Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia and Yang are considered three favorites in a crowded field that has yet to yield a clear favorite.
The debate turned heated in the first hour when Yang said that “no one is talking” about a looming budget deficit in New York. He argued that de Blasio’s management of the budget “predisposes us all to failure”.
“Imagine if you were a household that knew you owed $ 5 billion in 2023 and we give you $ 12 billion today and you spend it before any of these people have a chance to take his duties, ”Yang said.
Yang’s remarks drew a sharp rebuke from Scott Stringer, the current New York City Comptroller.
“As your consultants have told you time and time again, they admit you are an empty ship,” Stringer said. “I actually don’t think you’re an empty ship – I think you’re a Republican who continues to focus on the issues that won’t bring the economy back.”
Stringer accused Yang of focusing on “TikTok homes in the midst of a housing crisis,” in reference to Yang’s plan to encourage influencers to live and work in New York City.
Maya Wiley, a former de Blasio advisor and civil rights lawyer, targeted Yang’s work with Venture for America, a nonprofit that sought to train college graduates to work for startups.
“You promised 100,000 jobs, you created 150,000, and historically black college and university graduates did not have the opportunities they were promised,” Wiley said.
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Yang’s criticism focused largely on his inexperience. A former tech entrepreneur, Yang has never held a public office.
Adams referred to reports earlier this year that Yang had left town for his home in New Paltz during the pandemic as many New Yorkers were stranded in their homes.
“You left town during a very difficult time, even during a time when I didn’t see my son for two months because I was on the streets during COVID. You didn’t vote in the municipal elections at all. “said Adams. “How the hell can we become our mayor with this record like this?” How are you going to govern such a diverse city? “
Yang, in turn, spent much of the debate touting his plans to revitalize the economy and strengthen law enforcement efforts in response to an increase in gun violence in the city. The former presidential candidate also called for a resumption of face-to-face learning in schools across the city.
The New York City primary elections will be held on June 22.
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