Eric Adams Draws Fire for Skipping N.Y.C. Mayoral Debate

Mr. Adams, a leading candidate for New York City mayor, was accused by his rivals of trying to dodge questions about his residency.,


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Turbulence again rocked the New York City mayoral race on Tuesday, as Eric Adams, a leading contender, came under fire from two directions, even as two rivals, Kathryn Garcia and Maya Wiley, displayed signs of growing support.

Mr. Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, first drew criticism for his decision to skip a new debate among the top candidates scheduled for Thursday; he will instead attend a vigil for a 10-year-old killed in gun violence in Queens.

Then questions emerged over where Mr. Adams actually lives, after Politico reported some inconsistencies in public records that suggested that he did not live in the Brooklyn apartment where he had registered to run for mayor.

During the pandemic, Mr. Adams has often slept in Brooklyn Borough Hall, a habit that he has apparently continued in recent weeks. He also co-owns an apartment in Fort Lee, N.J.

“WTF?!?!” was the Wiley campaign’s reaction.

An adviser to Andrew Yang, Eric Soufer, said Mr. Adams “refuses to give a straight answer” about where he lives. “Eric Adams is obviously skipping the debate to avoid answering questions about how long he’s lived in New Jersey. If my candidate lived in Jersey, I’d probably do the same thing,” he said.

Evan Thies, an Adams campaign adviser, said in an interview that Mr. Adams lives in the garden apartment of the brownstone he owns on Lafayette Avenue in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, where his son also lives. Mr. Thies said that Mr. Adams sleeps in the garden apartment “most nights,” and that the last time he slept there was Monday night.

While Mr. Adams often works late at Borough Hall, sometimes sleeping there, Mr. Thies said, he only does borough presidency work there, never campaign work.

Mr. Adams did not comment directly, but said on Twitter: “You know it’s silly season when your opponents are staking out your office late at night so they can attack you for working hard!”

The issue would have been certain to come up had Mr. Adams attended the debate on Thursday, as his opponents try to shake his lead in a race that remains volatile just four days before early voting begins on Saturday.

While Mr. Adams has run neck and neck with Mr. Yang, the former presidential candidate, Ms. Garcia and Ms. Wiley flexed their ability to draw serious financial support. If one of them wins, she would be New York’s first female mayor, and both have made late-breaking gains in the race.

Ms. Garcia, the former sanitation commissioner, hit a fund-raising milestone when she raised enough money to max out public matching funds, her campaign said Tuesday.

Ms. Wiley, a former counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio, got a boost from the nation’s largest health care union, 1199SEIU, which announced it was buying $1.2 million worth of television ads backing her campaign.

Seeking to capitalize on a coveted endorsement last week from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a lodestar for progressive voters, Ms. Wiley also unveiled one of her most ambitious proposals yet: a $1 billion plan to create city-sponsored medical insurance that her campaign said would cover 246,000 low-income and undocumented New Yorkers, a large chunk of the city’s 600,000 uninsured residents.

The new union ad features health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, which has disproportionately harmed low-income immigrant and Black communities.

ImageMaya Wiley unveiled a proposal to create a city-sponsored health insurance plan.
Maya Wiley unveiled a proposal to create a city-sponsored health insurance plan.Credit…Brittainy Newman for The New York Times

Ms. Wiley framed her plan as a way to protect the city’s essential workers who had been exposed to the coronavirus during the pandemic. She made her announcement at the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, which was hit very hard during the pandemic.

“We are going to invest in a health insurance program for the folks who don’t qualify for Medicaid, for the folks who don’t get health insurance on the job, for whom Obamacare isn’t a solution,” she said. “We’re going to do it because we are a great city of tremendous resources when we know how to use them.”

But while progressive standard bearers like Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez emphasize free care or “Medicare for All,” Ms. Wiley’s plan would follow the traditional insurance model. Patients earning more than $25,000 per year would have co-pays and deductibles. The plan would replace a program created by Mr. de Blasio to expand access to free care at city hospitals.

Ms. Wiley is one of the four leading candidates who have said they will participate in the debate on Thursday, a WCBS-TV spokesman, Mike Nelson, said. The others are Mr. Yang, Ms. Garcia and Scott M. Stringer, the city comptroller.

Mr. Yang’s campaign accused Mr. Adams of running scared by avoiding the debate. But Mr. Adams said he had another commitment: a ceremony with the family of Justin Wallace, 10, who died last weekend in a shooting on the Rockaway peninsula in Queens.

“I wanted to do the debate. I enjoy debating the people on the stage, I wanted to, but the people of Rockaway, the people of the city, violence is suffocating our city,” Mr. Adams, a former police officer, said on WCBS-TV.

Reporting was contributed by Katie Glueck, Sean Piccoli, Dana Rubinstein and Mihir Zaveri.

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