As much as the candidates fret about New York City’s fiscal picture, the next mayor should in fact have nearly $5 billion in federal funding available when she or he takes office in January.
Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to spend $10.8 billion of the $15.7 billion in federal relief directed to the city over this fiscal year, which ends June 30, and the next, according to the nonpartisan Citizens Budget Commission.
Mr. de Blasio is spending about $3.5 billion in federal aid on education, including $359 million for the expansion of prekindergarten for 3-year-olds, and $500 million toward helping students recover academically from the pandemic, the commission said.
Another large portion of the federal funding, $1.4 billion, is reimbursement for Covid-related spending, including $350 million for vaccine-related expenses. Then there are several smaller programs, including the mayor’s “City Cleanup Corps,” which will employ 10,000 New Yorkers to clean up the city at a cost of $234 million.
Andrew Rein, the president of the Citizens Budget Commission, worries that Mr. de Blasio is setting the next mayor up for what budget experts refer to as a “fiscal cliff” by creating new programs using federal money that will eventually dry up.
Mr. de Blasio counters that he is spending money to jump-start the economy that the next mayor will inherit.
“You know, sometimes you have to spend money to make money,” Mr. de Blasio said.
In a mayoral race all but defined by video call appearances and digital forums, the first official Democratic primary debate will be no exception. With the pandemic lingering in New York City, the eight candidates will not gather in-person but will participate virtually.
Whether this is an anomaly or becomes the norm or is uncertain. Two more Democratic debates are on the calendar for next month, and no decision has yet been made about whether they will be held in person.
A digital format may rob the debate of some of its vitality. With no audience, humorous jabs may not land. It will be harder for candidates to read the room and calibrate if approaches aren’t working.
It may also diminish the spectacle of candidate-on-candidate attacks or, in the case of those seeking alliances, camaraderie. As they’re being verbally attacked, debaters won’t be able to physically turn to the moderator in appeal. And wild gestures could easily fly out of frame.
Still, by this point, the candidates have become experienced with virtual appearances. In the early stages of the campaign, with virus cases still high, they almost exclusively attended digital town halls.
Some of the mayoral hopefuls used that time to step up their video call games. They found ideal locations in their homes from where to sit — Maya Wiley, for example, stations her camera in front of a handsome bookcase — and purchased ring lights.
But perhaps no candidate has been more invested in the aesthetics of visual campaigning than Raymond J. McGuire.
The former Wall Street executive’s campaign chairman brought a bag full of equipment to his home last fall that included floor lighting, a mirrorless camera and a microphone that makes it easier to mute and un-mute.
As a result, Mr. McGuire has often appeared at video call forums in high-definition, lit in a healthy glow.
The first official debate between eight major Democratic candidates for mayor of New York City takes place Thursday night from 7 to 9 p.m. There are less than six weeks left until the June 22 primary election, which will effectively decide who will be the next mayor in this heavily Democratic city.
The candidates — who will face off virtually in the first debate but are expected to be in person for later ones — are Eric Adams, Shaun Donovan, Kathryn Garcia, Raymond J. McGuire, Dianne Morales, Scott M. Stringer, Maya Wiley and Andrew Yang.
Here are some of the ways you can watch and follow the debate:
Reporters from The New York Times will provide commentary and analysis throughout the evening.
The debate will be televised on Spectrum News NY1 and the Spanish-language channel Spectrum Noticias NY1. Those outlets will also livestream the debate on their websites and through their Facebook pages.
The public radio station WNYC will stream the debate on 93.9 FM and AM 820. Listeners can also tune in on the station’s website.
Other streams are expected to be available on YouTube.
Tonight’s debate will be the first chance for viewers to see on one (virtual) stage the leading mayoral candidates go head-to-head, in a race that is widely viewed as the most consequential in a generation.
When the mayor takes office in January 2022, he or she will face a series of pressing questions: how to bring back jobs and tourists after the pandemic, how to manage the city’s finances with lower tax revenues, how to make up for students’ educational losses and how to reduce a rise in violent crime while answering calls for police reform.
Some candidates have focused on being the city’s cheerleader or evoking a sense of managerial competence. Others are trying to be the progressive voice who will make sure working class New Yorkers are not forgotten in the recovery.
New York City is starting to reopen — Broadway is expected to come back in September — and the city has benefited from an influx of federal stimulus funding. Andrew Yang and Maya Wiley have called for a huge party to celebrate the city’s revival.
But the next mayor will face sobering challenges in the years ahead. The city’s property tax revenues are projected to decline by $2.5 billion next year, the largest drop in at least three decades. A wave of evictions could take place after a statewide moratorium ends in August.
The unemployment rate in the city reached a high of 20 percent last year. Though it fell this March to about 11 percent, it is much higher than before the pandemic, when it was under 4 percent.
Tonight’s first official debate of the New York City mayoral primary arrives at an inflection point for the city, a period defined by both economic uncertainty and business reopenings, a spike in gun violence and optimism around vaccinations.
Yet less than six weeks before the June 22 Democratic primary that is almost certain to determine the next mayor, the contest appears fluid and uncertain.
For months, Andrew Yang, the former presidential candidate, has topped the sparse public polling, generally followed by Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, and many people involved in the race describe those candidates as the two most formidable contenders. But many of their rivals are strategizing around how to cut into their polling leads — and the debate offers the best chance yet to put them under pressure.
For candidates like Kathryn Garcia, the former sanitation commissioner; Raymond J. McGuire, a former Citi executive; and Shaun Donovan, a former federal secretary of housing and urban development, tonight’s matchup is an opportunity to introduce themselves to voters and to reach for a breakout moment.
At the same time, left-wing activists and voters will be watching the contest as they consider how to wield their influence in a fractured field. Some are embracing Dianne Morales, a former nonprofit executive, while others are gravitating to Maya D. Wiley, a former counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Scott M. Stringer, the city comptroller, remains in the mix for some deeply progressive voters as well, despite losing prominent endorsers following an accusation of sexual assault, which he has denied. Mr. Stringer remains well-funded and has the support of powerful teachers’ unions, among other labor backers that have remained on board.
The reality is that many New Yorkers have barely begun to tune in — and given the virtual format of tonight’s debate, the opportunities for fireworks and breakout moments may be limited. But the contest will nevertheless be the best chance yet for the candidates to draw the attention of voters and to try to secure their support in the waning weeks of the race.