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One of NYC mayoral frontrunners backtracks on next debate

Eric Adams talks NYC mayoral primary
Local Matters: Eric Adams talks NYC mayoral primary, days before early voting begins 08:28

Update: Adams announced a change of plans Thursday and said he will participate in the debate. Read the latest on CBS New York. Our earlier story is below.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, one of the frontrunners in the New York City mayoral Democratic primary, said Tuesday that he will not be participating in the final debate before early voting begins. The debate is airing on CBS New York and streaming on CBSN New York on Thursday night. 

Adams said he will be with the family of a 10-year-old boy who was killed in a shooting last weekend in Far Rockaway, Queens. The 22-year veteran of the New York Police Department has made crime a central focus of his campaign. 

"I'm going to be in Rockaway with the family of a 10-year-old child," Adams told reporters on Tuesday, dismissing criticism from rival campaigns that he was dodging tough questions. "I wanted to do the debate. I enjoy debating the people on the stage, I wanted to. But the people of Rockaway, the people of the city - violence is suffocating our city. Now, to a lot of people, they're not aware of that, but I'm in these streets every day."

Adams told CBSN's Tom Hansen that when people say he is "ducking out" of the debate, "let's be clear, I spent my entire 35-year career on the forefront." 

Thursday's debate will take place just before early voting begins on Saturday and less than two weeks before the June 22 primary. The New York City Board of Elections said Tuesday that more than 180,000 absentee ballots have been sent to voters. 

New York Mayoral Candidate Adams Campaigns In Queens As Primary Approaches
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, whose running as a Democratic mayoral candidate, appears in Flushing, Queens to open a new campaign office on June 8, 2021 in the Queens borough of New York City.  Spencer Platt / Getty Images

There have already been two formal debates with the top eight candidates and one more debate is scheduled with the "leading contenders" on June 16. The past debates have largely focused on crime and policing. A Spectrum News New York 1/Ipsos poll released on Monday showed that crime was the top issue among likely voters, with 46% saying it's the main problem facing New York City. Affordable housing (45%), the COVID-19 pandemic (32%), racial injustice (25%) and gun control (20%) rounded out the top five. 

Thursday night's debate will be moderated by WCBS anchor Maurice DuBois and WCBS political reporter Marcia Kramer. The candidates who will participate will be Kathryn Garcia, Scott Stringer, Maya Wiley and Andrew Yang. 

The June primary will be the first citywide election in New York City using ranked-choice voting. The Board of Elections has said it may take until mid-July to determine which candidate won the election because of the rules for absentee ballot returns. 

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