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NYC mayoral debate gets personal with calls of criminality and elitism


The New York City mayoral debate got personal on Wednesday night with Eric Adams branding Curtis Sliwa a criminal, while Sliwa blasted his opponent as an elitist. 

At the debate, which was aired on WNBC Wednesday night, Democratic candidate Eric Adams and Republican nominee Curtis Sliwa discussed their views on everything from vaccination mandates, crime and storm resiliency before the election on November 2.

But in between the substance, the two candidates threw mud at one another.

When discussing crime, Adams, a former NYPD captain, seemed to laugh at the notion that his opponent was better equipped to deal with the city’s crime spree.

‘New Yorkers are going to make the determination of a person that wore a bulletproof vest and protected the children and families of this city and fought crime, against a person who made up crimes so that he can be popular,’ Adams said.

‘He made up crimes New Yorkers,’ he said of Sliwa’s admission that he faked violent incidents in the 1970s to bring attention to his vigilante crime-fighting group, the Guardian Angels. ‘That in itself is a crime.’

‘It’s easy to talk about what happened,’ Adams noted. ‘I was there. He was absent.’ 

At the first New York City mayoral debate on Wednesday night, Democratic nominee Eric Adams, left, and Republican candidate Curtis Sliwa, right, traded jabs

Adams laughed at the idea that his opponent was better equipped to deal with the city's crime spree, saying he made up crimes to bolster his vigilante crime-fighting group, the Guardian Angels in the 1970s - which is a crime

Adams laughed at the idea that his opponent was better equipped to deal with the city’s crime spree, saying he made up crimes to bolster his vigilante crime-fighting group, the Guardian Angels in the 1970s – which is a crime

Sliwa then swung back, saying: ‘There is documentary evidence I was there in the subways tending to the needy, the emotionally disturbed that you were not tending to.’ 

He then admitted he ‘made mistakes’ and was ‘immature at the age of 25,’ according to the New York Daily News, before pivoting to rip Adams for hanging out at a nightclub.

‘Eric Adams is with the elites in the suites, the TikTok girls, trying to sort of live up to the Kardashians at (exclusive private members’ club) Zero Bond,’ Sliwa said. ‘Come back to the streets and the subways. Hang with the real peeps.’ 

Adams, the current Brooklyn borough president, is widely seen as the favorite to win the mayoral race in the heavily liberal city. He has been endorsed by current mayor, Bill de Blasio.

Throughout the night, the Daily News reports, he waved off other attacks from Sliwa, telling him to ‘Stop the lies, and stick with the facts,’ after Sliwa claimed he plans to travel to both Florida and Puerto Rico the day after he is inaugurated.

And when asked to respond to another jab, Adams replied: ‘I’m speaking to New Yorkers, not to buffoonery.’

Sliwa admitted he made a mistake, before calling Adams an elitist who likes to hang out at club suites dancing with 'TikTok girls'

Sliwa admitted he made a mistake, before calling Adams an elitist who likes to hang out at club suites dancing with ‘TikTok girls’

But there was some substance to the debate as they discussed everything from vaccination mandates, crime and storm resiliency

But there was some substance to the debate as they discussed everything from vaccination mandates, crime and storm resiliency

But there was some substance to the debate, the Daily News reports, as Adams said he would beef up the police department, including by reinstating a controversial plain clothes unit that was disbanded in 2020, to help fight the rise in crime.

Sliwa, meanwhile, said he would hire more police officers, claiming: ‘President Joe Biden offered money to hire police officers, he said “no” as his teammate Bill de Blasio had said before.’

He continued to say that he would reinstate the controversial stop and frisk practice that a federal judge declared unconstitutional, and when a moderator pointed that out to him, he replied: ‘It is constitutional.’

And on vaccines, Adams voiced support for requiring school children to be vaccinated against COVID, while saying he is ‘open’ to the idea of providing a remote learning option for students who decide not to get vaccinated.

He also said he supported de Blasio’s mandate for all public city workers to get vaccinated, but took issue with his decision not to discuss it with municipal union leaders before unveiling the mandate.

Sliwa, meanwhile, railed against de Blasio’s mandate, stressing personal choice should take priority and saying he wants to leave vaccines for children up to their parents.

‘How about getting parental involvement?’ he asked. ‘Do we not want parents involved in this process.’

Adams said he supports current Mayor Bill de Blasio's vaccine mandate and would support a mandate for school children with an option for remote learning if they refuse to get vaccinated

Sliwa, meanwhile, railed against the vaccine mandates and argued that it should be a parent's right to choose whether to vaccinate their kid

The two candidates differed on their views of vaccine mandates, with Adams, left, saying he supports current Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vaccine mandate and would support a mandate for school children with an option for remote learning if they refuse to get vaccinated. Sliwa, right, meanwhile, railed against the vaccine mandates and argued that it should be a parent’s right to choose whether to vaccinate their kid

The two also differed on their views of what to do with the controversial Rikers Island prison - Adams said he would support shuttering it and replacing it with four smaller lockups, while Sliwa vowed to keep it up and running

The two also differed on their views of what to do with the controversial Rikers Island prison – Adams said he would support shuttering it and replacing it with four smaller lockups, while Sliwa vowed to keep it up and running

On the environment, Sliwa said he would focus on building ‘seawalls’ along city coast lines to protect against damage from deadly storms like Hurricane Ida, which caused widespread flooding.

Adams countered that seawalls would have done little to protect against the storm.

‘It had nothing to do with seawalls,’ Adams said, instead insisting that the way to protect against storm damage is ‘intervention and prevention.’

Adams also voiced his support to shutter the controversial Rikers Island prison and replace it with four smaller lockups, though he noted more attention needs to be paid to a prisoners’ ‘placement’ to ensure safety and equity, while Sliwa vowed that as mayor he would keep Rikers up and running.

He said he would set up camp at the ‘warden’s house,’ noting that on inauguration night, ‘that’s where I’m staying.’ 

Reaction on Twitter was mixed, with some claiming Adams won, while others claimed Sliwa won the first debate

Reaction on Twitter was mixed, with some claiming Adams won, while others claimed Sliwa won the first debate

In the end, reaction on Twitter was rather mixed, with John Sandor writing: ‘If I were Eric Adams I would hold off on measuring at Gracie Mansion. 

‘He just got obliterated by Curtis Sliwa in the mayoral debate,’ he said, noting: ‘Sliwa seems to be appealing to many liberal democrats in NYC.’

Sandor quote tweeted another man, seemingly named Justin, who wrote: ‘Not gonna lie, I’m as left leaning as can be, but Adams keeps telling stories about growing up as a kid and Sliwa is speaking policy changes. 

‘Idk man, Sliwa is making sense with some of his points here.’

Others, though, claimed Adams won the night.

Mark Levine, a Democrat running for Manhattan borough president, said he ‘laid out a clear, pragmatic, thoughtful vision in tonight’s mayoral debate.’ 

Levine, who currently serves as the chair of the city’s health committee, said he was ‘grateful for his strong endorsement of the new vaccine mandate for City workers, and his consistent leadership on public health. NYC’s choice could not be clearer.’

Another Twitter user pointed out that Sliwa had never run for office before and only changed his voter registration to Republican last year. 

And another user, Jay Edwards, wrote that after watching the debate, he has ‘come to the conclusion that Curtis Silwa is a BIG DOPE.’ 



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