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Eric Adams is almost mayor of New York.  But first, he has to beat this guy.

“I’m talking to New Yorkers, not buffoonery,” he said, declining to respond to one of the many broadsides that Sliwa threw in his way.

The debate at WNBC’s Rockefeller Center studios was co-hosted by POLITICO, Telemundo 47, the Citizens Budget Commission and the New York Urban League – one of two official debates ahead of the November 2 general election.

Adams has a big advantage in a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 7-1 margin. But Sliwa, whose security patrols became synonymous with crime-plagued New York City of the 1980s and 1990s, vowed to give the former state lawmaker a run for his money. He beat Adams over his residence, his close ties to major donors, and his ethical record as a state senator, and argued that Adams would not do enough to keep the New- Yorker.

“I’m the only candidate standing on this stage who said I will hire more cops,” Sliwa said, pushing his plan to increase the size of the NYPD and increase the use of stop-and-frisk in high-pressure areas. high concentration of gangs. activity, rekindling a controversial tactic that had previously been challenged in court.

Adams, who spent more than 20 years at the NYPD before entering politics, retorted that he wore the uniform while his opponent “played cop.”

“Let’s be clear, New Yorkers are going to determine someone who wore a bulletproof vest, protected children, families across the state, and fought crime against someone who made up crimes, so he could be popular.” , did he declare. , referring to Sliwa’s confession that the guardian angels staged certain crimes for publicity purposes.

Sliwa sued Adams for his past comments that he would carry a gun to church and be armed as mayor.

“You are a supporter of carrying a gun,” he said. “If you’re going to hit young men who use guns in violent actions, you can’t say ‘Do what I say but not what I do.’ Why did you need a gun? I never used a weapon and received five bullets.

Adams replied that his opponent “makes up things, like he made up his crimes.”

The winner of the November 2 election will replace limited-term mayor Bill de Blasio, who heads the country’s largest city as it tries to emerge from a pandemic that has hampered its economy and fueled widespread concerns in terms of public safety and quality of life. Adams presented himself as the future of the Democratic Party. He would be the second black man to rule New York.

But Sliwa has also refined his attacks, describing Adams as a tool of the elite who spends his time fundraising in the Hamptons and vacationing in Monaco. Sliwa has maintained an active campaign schedule in recent months – although he has struggled to gain attention, even with publicity events like his trip to the New Jersey apartment that Adams co-owns with his partner. , carrying a carton of milk with the candidate’s face on it. above. Adams kept a low profile and was reluctant to engage his opponent.

During the debate, the two men strongly disagreed over a Covid-19 vaccine mandate for city workers, which Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday will demand that cops, firefighters and the rest of the community workforce receive at least one injection by November 1.

“I think the mayor’s action today was correct,” Adams said, recalling the city’s suffering at the height of the pandemic when tens of thousands of people died. He said he would have approached the issue differently, seeking a deal with the unions, but would keep the term in place if elected mayor.

Sliwa condemned the decision to penalize first responders if they don’t get vaccinated and made one of many attempts throughout the night to tie Adams to the incumbent mayor.

“We cheered them on every night at 7 o’clock. Then all of a sudden we decided, from Blasio – who supported Eric Adams here, they were a team – that all of a sudden they would lose their jobs. It was an eyesore, “he said.” We should never fire them for this reason. “

Adams also called for a vaccination mandate for public school students, while Sliwa opposed such a move.

Sparks flew when contestants were asked to explain why New Yorkers should trust them – in light of Sliwa’s recognition that he fabricated crimes and lingering questions about whether Adams really lives in the Brooklyn Brownstone which he claims to be his home.

Sliwa said he apologized for his mistakes and took the opportunity to hit his opponent, who was courting high-net-worth business leaders and donors.

“Eric Adams is with the elites in the suites – the TikTok Girls,” he said.

Adams has attempted to explain why he filed tax returns stating that the house he claims to live in is not his primary residence, blaming the problem on his accountant, who was then homeless. But he couldn’t say how many nights he spends at the Bedford Stuyvesant apartment, on the ground floor of a building he owns.

“I stay in my brownstone. I live in Brooklyn. This is my primary residence, ”he said, adding that he sometimes also stayed in his office in Borough Hall. “I don’t keep track of how many days I’m there. But that’s where I lay my head.

Sliwa responded by referring to a POLITICO report that said Adams took a summer trip to Monaco, a destination he would not publicly disclose. “You spend more time on vacation in Monaco,” he said. “Who is going to Monaco? The rich, the famous.

Candidates disagreed on a host of other issues: Adams said he supported the recent decision to remove a statue of Thomas Jefferson from the city council chamber, while Sliwa said “absolutely not.”

Sliwa, who has made animal rights an important part of his platform – discussing the 15 rescue cats who share a studio with him and his wife, and promising to open shelters without killing – said he would ban “Absolutely” the “barbarian” of the carriage industry in Central Park. Adams, who won the support of the union representing horse-drawn carriages, has not taken a clear position on the issue.

And they clashed over congestion pricing, the plan to charge drivers a fee to enter central Manhattan areas. Adams backed the plan, with some exemptions such as people entering the city for chemotherapy treatments.

“We have to deal with the congestion in our city, and it’s costing businesses a lot of money because we don’t,” he said. Sliwa, on the other hand, said the plan would “crush the middle class.”

Adams has raised $ 2.4 million in donations since August, according to recent fundraising reports, bringing his balance to nearly $ 8 million. Sliwa has raised $ 200,000 in the same period and has $ 1.2 million on hand after receiving matching public funds this fall.

The Democrat’s financial advantage was visible on Wednesday night: as soon as the debate was over, an Adams ad was broadcast on NBC.

Amanda Eisenberg and Myah Ward contributed to this report.

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