NYC Mayoral Race: Meet the Leading Candidates

Andrew Yang, Eric Adams, Scott Stringer and Maya Wiley are the top four candidates in the Democratic mayoral primary, according to a recent Data for Progress poll.

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From left to right, Andrew Yang, Eric Adams, Scott Stringer and Maya Wiley are all candidates in the competitive New York’s mayoral race. According to a recent Data for Progress poll, Yang, Adams, Stringer and Wiley are the top four candidates in the Democratic mayoral primary. (Images via Wikimedia Commons, Staff Photo and Illustration by Alexandra Chan)

By Rachel Cohen, Staff Writer

We’re two months away from the June 22 Democratic mayoral primary, which will likely determine New York City’s next mayor. 

Twelve Democrats and two Republicans are running to replace Mayor Bill de Blasio. According to a Data for Progress poll, Andrew Yang has recently taken a lead in the race.

The new mayor will be chosen in the general election on Nov. 2, will inherit a city budget hurt by COVID-19, racial and socioeconomic inequality, and a major spike in shootings. Despite this, dozens of New Yorkers, ranging from current politicians to television personalities, have filed their campaign paperwork. 

As of press time, Yang, Eric Adams, Scott Stringer and Maya Wiley — are the four top contenders in the Democratic mayoral primary.

Andrew Yang

Yang, who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in the 2020 presidential election, is a technology entrepreneur and founder of Humanity Forward. He is backed by name recognition, which has caused him to edge out other candidates, despite never running for city office or voting in a mayoral election.

He is most known for his universal basic income platform, which he proposes distributing $2,000 per year to 500,000 low-income residents. Other potential policies are found on his campaign website.

Yang recently faced criticism for leaving New York City during the pandemic and for comments he made about street vendors. Nevertheless, a survey found 26% of 1,007 likely Democratic voters support his candidacy — double the 13% Adams received in second place. 

“Andrew Yang is mainly leading in polls due to the fact that he ran for president,” College Democrats secretary and College of Arts and Science sophomore Elina Rodriguez told WSN. “It’s not his policies that are taking the forefront, but it is more so his name recognition and that is how voters are being appealed to.”

CAS junior Izzy Vieira, the incoming president of NYU’s Politics Society, sees Yang’s popularity as beneficial to his campaign, but does not believe it will completely decide the election.

“I think New Yorkers might be a little more concerned, especially if they are not happy with Andrew Cuomo or Bill de Blasio, and look up the other candidates,” Vieria said.

Eric Adams

Adams, the current Brooklyn Borough President, was second in the poll. He began his government career as a New York City Police Department officer 22 years ago. While on the force, he pushed for internal reforms and co-founded an advocacy organization of current and former Black NYPD officers. 

Adams is a critic of police brutality, but does not support defunding the police. Before becoming borough president in 2013, he served in the state senate for Crown Heights, Brownsville and Park Slope for four terms starting in 2006.

He released a 100-step plan which includes measures such as opening schools year-round and making the government more efficient amid the financial crisis, especially with regard to small businesses, among other policies within his plan.

Maya Wiley

Wiley believes it is time for the first Black woman to be elected as mayor in a city that previously elected one Black mayor and no women.

She previously served as Mayor de Blasio’s legal counsel and a former MSNBC contributor. Wiley is now a civil rights activist, a professor at the New School and an attorney with both the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Wiley is calling for reforming the NYPD and combating systemic discrimination against Black, brown, LGBTQ+, indigenous and immigrant communities. Her proposals include a “New Deal” to put $10 billion into the city’s economy in order to create 100,000 jobs. Wiley would appoint someone to oversee the plan, coordinate agency spending and ensure efficiency.

Unlike other candidates on the ballot, Wiley is backed by the city’s largest union, Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union, which backed de Blasio in the crowded 2013 mayoral race.

Scott Stringer

Stringer is no stranger to New York City politics. He is the current city comptroller, but he previously served as the Manhattan Borough President and state assembly member for the Upper West Side. 

As a public school parent, Stringer is campaigning for affordable housing and early childhood education. Other platform initiatives include gun control, women’s reproductive rights, LGBTQ+ rights and campaign-finance reform. 

Stringer has taken jabs at de Blasio for how he has handled the pandemic and other key areas, including housing. But he has also received backlash for approving large real-estate projects, such as Hudson Yards, and supporting the expansion of NYU’s campus. 

In a club-wide vote, the College Democrats endorsed Stringer as New York City’s next mayor.

“We found Stringer has the credentials, the resume, and the progressive backing that we need in this situation,” Rodriguez said. “He has a progressive background that we agree with and will get things done that we believe [in].”

Ranked Choice Voting + Importance of NYU Student Involvement

For the first time, New York City will utilize ranked-choice voting in the primaries — as well as special elections for local offices — where a voter can rank up to five candidates in order of preference. 

CAS politics professor Steven Brams said ranked-choice voting allows a candidate to win with a small percentage over a large number of options. It can also cause non-monotonicity, meaning a candidate can actually lose if they receive increased support and a higher ranking. Bram advocates instead for approval voting.

“As candidates are eliminated, votes no longer count unless they voted for one of the candidates that wins in the end,” Brams said. “People can also have difficulty ranking and not have the information that they need. Under approval voting, you approve as many candidates as you like, and the candidate with the most approval wins. You can better express yourself.”

Vieria, however, said she is excited to see how ranked-choice voting plays out in the primaries.

“Many see ranked-choice voting as a progressive form of voting,” Vieria said. “This is an important election as a whole due to timing. It has been a while since there has been an election, but with COVID-19 and New York, it is a big deal to see how the next mayor will handle reopenings, vaccines and economic recovery. The pandemic’s effects among the whole world are exacerbated in the city.”

Regardless of who students choose, Rodriguez notes the importance the mayoral race has on the city.

“The election has implications outside of students,” Rodriguez said. “We live in an extremely diverse city, and this election decides housing, jobs, equality, policing and other factors. The race is bigger than we think with its impact on national politics. New York City’s laws and reforms set a precedent for other cities to follow suit.”

Email Rachel Cohen at [email protected]