It was the first such debate since the start of the COVID pandemic. The eight Democrats who qualified for the debate included:
Watch the first hour of the debate above. The second hour is below:
UPDATES AND TOPICS DISCUSSED:
Watch each of the candidates make their closing statement to end the mayoral debate:
Would you support a universal child care plan?
Yang said we have to make it easier to qualify for federal funding and get providers the licenses they need to qualify.
Morales said it's important to recovery and child care and elder care are critical to rebuilding the economy and going back to work.
Adams said he believes in universal child care and it's crucial and we need to invest in families in a real way.
Garcia said she supports in free child care for 0-3 for those making less than $70,000.
Donovan said it's not just about quantity, it's about quality. He said he would work with the Biden administration to get that funding.
Stringer said he believes in federal funding for his plan. He said he would triple the kids in child care and send 20,000 people, primarily women of color, back into the workforce.
Wiley said she would create universal care centers for children and elderly family members.
McGuire said he supports it and wants to make sure that the funds are available and delivered and there is no higher priority.
Keeping repeat offenders off the streets
McGuire said there should be outpatient treatment with those who are mentally ill and they should be treated with dignity, but they should be put into safe homes and given medication.
Yang said we have to stop failing people in our families and examine what lets these people walk the streets and make sure New Yorkers get the safety they deserve.
Morales said mental illness is not a crime. She said that means supportive housing, medication management, access to constructive ways to engage in society and be productive. She said we can't criminalize mental illness or being Black or brown.
Adams said we have to go upstream. He said there needs to be a focus on wraparound services to give these people the care they deserve.
Garcia said we have to care for the mentally ill and the victims. She said the mentally ill must get the treatment they need and it can be done with compassion.
Donovan said he is outraged by recent attacks. He said he has led the way on a fair housing act and we must invest in emergency mental health resources in every neighborhood.
Stringer said nothing has changed over the last administration and the next mayor must do that.
Wiley said she has a courageous plan to end street homelessness and she will do it the right way with crisis intervention and supportive housing.
Stopping crime in the subways in the first 100 days
Wiley said safety is job 1 and she will do it the right way. She said instead of fearing someone attacking you because they are mentally ill, she will make sure there are crisis responders there to make sure they get help.
McGuire said he will invest in his policing plan, which means mental health care professionals in the subway along with police.
Yang said he would put more cops in the subway. He said one person should be accountable for the subway and it should be the mayor. He also said many mentally ill are not getting the help they need.
Morales said we need to deploy the appropriate services to deal with the crisis to provide trained people to help deescalate the problem.
Adams said there should be proper deployment of the officers that are there. He said there should be an officer on every train and they should team up with mental health professionals while building trust.
Garcia said people who don't feel safe on the subway will make it impossible for NYC to get back on its feet. She said we have to be compassionate and have mental health professionals to get people the help they need. She said police must walk the platforms, ride the trains and not just stand around.
Donovan said we need to commit to supportive housing for those struggling with mental health so they are not in the subways and on the streets. He said there should be a coordinated entry system for those who leave prison.
Stringer said flooding the zone with cops won't solve the problem. He said it needs to be a multi-faceted approach to helping those with mental health issues and build housing.
Candidates question each other
Yang asked Adams if he will accept the outcome to a ranked choice voting election. Adams said he would and respects the process.
McGuire asked Stringer about pensions and managing the budget. Stringer said he cleaned up the pension system and made the changes necessary while putting in reforms.
Wiley asked Adams about carrying a gun and if it sends the wrong message to kids. Adams said his message has always been public safety is the key to prosperity. He pointed out that while off-duty, he was able to stop armed suspects from committing crimes while pointing out illegal guns are illegal guns.
Stringer asked Adams about major donations to his super PAC and what he thinks about hedge funders hedging on him. Adams said he isn't responsible for who puts together the PACs and he would give back every dollar he has raised to go to a 100% public finance system.
Donovan asked Yang about universal income and poverty. Yang said many thought cash relief was a pipe dream before stimulus checks were paid. He said there are a lot of ways we can combat poverty like putting groceries in food deserts, bus lanes in transit deserts and providing high speed internet.
Garcia asked Stringer why he didn't focus more on the NYPD in his audits. Stringer said police were audited but more importantly, for the first time, they were able to see the contracts online and there are now more ways to look there.
Morales asked Adams about a 2019 comment that LGBTQ senior housing development didn't belong in the community. Adams said he put hundreds of thousands of dollars into that project and said residents told him that they wanted to see good housing, not a dilapidated building, he said he has amazing support for pride.
Adams asked Yang about gun violence in the city and leaving NYC during the pandemic. Yang said New Yorkers know exactly what he has been up to and brought up crime in Brooklyn to Adams, the Brooklyn borough president. He said New Yorkers need a fresh start and to turn the page. Adams said he can't run from the city if he wants to run the city.
The two continued to exchange jabs:
Lightning round: Would you want the endorsement of Cuomo or de Blasio?
Undocumented workers in NYC
Stringer said he will make sure he makes it right with undocumented workers and essential workers and provide safe infrastructure and housing.
Wiley said our people are all our people -- whether they have papers or not. She said she will make sure they get health insurance, not just asking them to try to get by.
McGuire said it's about respect, dignity and support. He said we must do what we can to support the undocumented amongst us.
Yang, the son of immigrants, said he has an anti-poverty plan to put money in the hands of the poorest New Yorkers, many of whom are undocumented.
Morales said we need to make sure anyone who lives in NYC has access to protections and we must become a true sanctuary city.
Adams said we must ensure undocumented New Yorkers receive health care and other services while also receiving the respect they deserve.
Garcia said we must be a true sanctuary city and we must live up to our values, which means investing in families -- despite documentation. She said we must prioritize health, housing and other services for those who are not documented.
Donovan said we must help immigrants who have been hardest hit by the COVID crisis. He started a program to feed those going hungry and said he understands we must invest in our immigrants and health care is the most important thing we can do for them.
Remote learning and getting back to school
Donovan said we need to focus on reopening and getting back to school. He said he would invest in education recovery coordinators and universal broadband in schools while better connecting schools to jobs. He said every high school student should have an internship or apprenticeship before graduating.
Stringer said there should be two teachers in every classroom K-5 and all kids should have the same opportunities, no matter where they live or go to school.
Wiley said kids have been traumatized and she wants trauma-informed care in schools. She also wants to create a resource center and hub to learn best practices to accelerate learning.
McGuire said COVID exposed what the education system is facing and we need to transform the system. He wants to make sure there is affordable child care and the proper professionals to care for kids.
Yang said we have 10,000 tutors in our schools for 100,000 kids to try to make up for the lost year. He said there has been trauma, neglect and abuse, so mental health counselors will also be needed. He said federal money should be deployed now.
Morales said there is an opportunity to reform learning. She said we must regain trust of teachers and expose children to the world so they can make active choices about their career pathways.
Adams said he learned he had a learning disability and was able to overcome it despite being betrayed by the Department of Education. He said he refuses to have another Eric Adams believing he can't learn.
Garcia said each child needs to be looked at individually. She said particularly for kids with special needs, making sure they are getting resources and support to come back.
Lightning round: Who is your 2nd choice?
Shaun Donovan said he will rank Maya Wiley as his second choice in New York's upcoming primary which will use ranked-choice voting. Andrew Yang said Kathryn Garcia would be his second choice. All of the other candidates did not indicate a second choice.
Charter schools and education
Adams said he believes on scaling up excellence and if we don't educate, we will risk incarceration.
Garcia jumped in to say she would move $130 million into classrooms to teachers and principals. She said there would be art, music, sports and theater and vows she has the track record to get it done. She said mental health support is also important to plan for.
Morales said we need to focus on improving public schools, not investing in charter schools, and strengthen the quality of the schools. She said Black and brown children do not see themselves reflected in the curriculum and we must transform how we teach them.
Donovan said he has an education recovery plan to help kids recover with a focus on social and emotional recovery.
Stringer said he is a failed remote-learning teacher and the fight is about charter schools and privatization. He emphasized that he is endorsed by the teachers' union.
Wiley said she went to an overcrowded school when she was young. She wants to bring class sizes down and help traumatized students and children.
McGuire said we need the best schools and we must improve and transform the entire system.
Yang is a public school parent and said too many children have been failed. He said the priority is to get kids back into the building while letting leaders lead.
Wiley on making cuts to the police department
Wiley said there will be a process with a civilian oversight commission that will set the rules of the road and make sure discipline is adhered to. She said the department should be audited and restructured.
Garcia on quitting during pandemic
Garcia said it was the wrong decision for the budget to be cut at the Department of Sanitation and she believed she could make more progress outside than inside.
Stringer on allegations against him
Stringer said he believes women should be heard, but there are inconsistencies in the events from 20 years ago and he denies the allegations.
McGuire on his lack of government experience
McGuire said he has managed budgets larger than most state budgets and managed talent for longer than most. He said New Yorkers want someone who has experience managing crises and he has the receipts.
Morales on allegations against campaign
On the question that her campaign has contradicted what she has promoted, Morales told voters she has successfully managed of organizations for decades. What has transpired, she said, is something that is not uncommon for seasoned managers. She said as soon as she became aware of the situation, she intervened, and she looks forward to moving forward.
Donovan on the homeless problem
Donovan said we are on the verge of the worst eviction crisis of our lifetimes. He said homelessness can't be solved simply with shelters, it's a problem of mental health, so we must invest in services to help.
Yang on lack of experience
When asked about the criticism of him, that he lacks the experience to serve as mayor, Yang pointed to his business background, saying that as the head of a company he had to do many of the same things that are asked of politicians. He also said he started a national movement around cash relief.
"A lot of people didn't think that movement was going to be possible, but here we are less than 2 years later, $1,200 check, $600 check, $1,400 check, child poverty tax credit. So people in New York know exactly what I've been up to... and they know this is exactly the kind of experience we need," Yang said.
Next topic of debate: Economic crisis
How do we reopen businesses, get housing for homeless all without driving away residents who are already taxed higher than others in the country?
Garcia said we have to give small businesses 0% loans and provide child care for workers. She said she will put these things in place and she won't measure fines or fees, she will be measuring how many businesses open.
Donovan said those most vulnerable before a crisis are always the ones hit the hardest. He said he would lead recovery by investing in small businesses and create 500,000 jobs. He said it is a New Deal moment and funding from Washington needs to be distributed to communities.
Stringer mentioned that his own mother was among the New Yorkers killed during the pandemic. He said the city has never invested in affordable housing or education, and the next mayor has to change this. He said he will focus on economic revitalization and invest in small businesses starting Day 1.
Wiley said she has a deal called New Deal New York, she said she will create 100,000 jobs and do targeting hiring in communities hit the hardest while helping provide child care and care for elderly New Yorkers.
McGuire said there is no going back. He said 500,000 jobs will help the city go big and forward, while investing in vocational training for New Yorkers.
Yang said he is passionate about small business owners because he was one. He said there will be no recovery if streets and subways don't feel safe. He said homelessness must be cut down and there needs to be an investment in small businesses in Black and brown communities.
Morales said we must keep investing in small and mid-size businesses. She said we need to also invest in our care economy to help prioritize our community over corporations.
Adams said the perquisite to prosperity is public safety and justice. He said if we are going to turn around the economy, we have to make the city a safe city.
First topic of debate: Crime in NYC
Eyewitness News political reporter brings up the first topic of the debate: crime and police.
Adams said fighting crime should be based on intervention and prevention. He said it's not just a professional battle, it's a personal battle too.
Garcia said we went from a pandemic of COVID to an epidemic of gun violence and the flow of guns into the country and city must be slowed.
Donovan says we must focus on safety and respect by focusing police on violent crime, not be mental health experts for the mentally ill.
Stringer said he does not want to go back to the Giuliani days of stop-and-frisk. He said the police force must be held to the highest standards and he will transform policing. "Let's not go back to the days we're going to regret," he said.
Wiley said we must use our resources right and take away the kinds of things we are asking police to do they have no business doing. She said she has a plan for true civilian accountability and a civilian oversight body.
McGuire said stop-and-frisk is outdated and doesn't work. He said we need to move forward, but defunding does not work. He said the guns need to get off the street by whatever means necessary and the NYPD needs to be trained where the guns are.
Yang said defunding police is not the right approach for NYC. He said the city needs a massive recruitment drive because we need a police force that represents our city. He said departments need to be better staffed to help get the solve-rate up.
Morales has spoken previously in favor of defunding the police. She said if the government provide jobs to young people and economic stability to communities, then the violence would dramatically decrease.
8 candidates make opening statements
The debate is underway and to start it off, all eight candidates were given 45 seconds to make an opening statement.
The speaking order was determined by a random draw.
Candidates, supporters arrive to the WABC studio:
As the eight candidates arrived to the WABC studio on Wednesday evening, crowds of protesters and supporters gathered outside.
People with boomboxes from each campaign were there to make their voices heard.
They were not blocking the street, but each time the light turned red, supporters took to the streets and danced. The MTA sent personnel out to help control traffic.
Candidates stump ahead of 1st in-person NYC mayoral debate
The race is heating up, with the candidates on the attack just 10 days before early voting starts and 20 days from the primary election.
On the day of the first in-person debate, all of the candidates hit the campaign trail before they go head-to-head during the debate on WABC.
How to watch:
The Democratic debate will air, commercial free, June 2 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The first hour will air on Channel 7, and the second hour will shift to digital and streaming platforms of ABC7NY.
You can also watch the second hour over-the-air on Channel 7.2 and on these cable channels:
Charter (Spectrum): Channel 1240
Optimum: Channel 110
Comcast: Channels 790 or 1177
Verizon FIOs: Channel 467
Decision made for in-person debate:
WABC-TV and our parent company, Disney, had previously issued the following statement:
"After receiving the final list of candidates this weekend and much due diligence reviewing the safety protocols, our team is now confident that we can host the June 2 mayoral debate with the candidates in person. The safety of our employees and anyone entering the building is our priority, so we are asking the candidates to follow our mandated safety guidelines. We have sent them to the NYC Campaign Finance Board, and all of the candidates will receive them shortly. We look forward to providing all of you with the best possible debate experience and are glad you are tuning into ABC7."
RELATED | NYC elections: What is ranked-choice voting?
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