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On Eve Of Early Voting, Top Contenders For NYC Mayor Skirmish Over Crime And If Police Should Carry Guns

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- As New Yorkers begin casting votes Saturday in one of the most important mayoral races in decades, candidates skirmished Friday over crime and whether cops should carry guns.

It's a question that was first raised by CBS2's political reporter Marcia Kramer during Thursday's leading contenders debate on CBS2 and CBSN New York.

"We don't need a mayor that is talking about they're gonna take guns from police officers when we have an over proliferation of illegal guns on our streets," said Eric Adams.

Adams launched a broadside against Maya Wiley after she refused to say at the debate if she would take guns away from most cops, as they do in 19 other countries.

"I am not prepared to make that decision in a debate," Wiley said.

WATCH: New York City Democratic Mayoral Debate

But since Wiley wants to defund the cops, her answer was interpreted by Adams and others as an indication she might do it.

Ray McGuire tweeted, "@MayaWiley wants to take guns away from police but is fine letting NYPD taser people who are already handcuffed. We can't return to the Giuliani-era policing tactics nor nonsensical approaches rooted in politics."

"It was alarming. I was standing next to her and I don't know if my facial expressions showed it. It was alarming to say that," Adams said. "You must give the public safety apparatus the tools they need to keep us safe."

Wiley is in damage control mode.

"Walking what back? All I said was what I was gonna do as mayor. First of all, let's just be clear, of course, we are not taking guns from police officers," Wiley said Friday.

But with early voting starting tomorrow, all the campaigns were on edge.

Andrew Yang on Staten Island was confronted by a Muslim voter upset about pro-Israel tweets.

"I'm going to do my best to demonstrate I'm going to be the mayor for every, single, New Yorker, every background and every faith," Yang told the voter.

Friday night, Kathryn Garcia, Andrew Yang and Maya Wiley spoke about their crime and safety plans at a virtual forum with Harlem's First Corinthian Baptist Church.

"I would expand the gun suppression division of the NYPD," Garcia said.

"I would initiate an anti-violence community safety unit of plainclothes officers," Yang said.

"The issue isn't whether we need more police officers. It's how we deploy our policing resources smartly," Wiley said.

One day before early voting begins, many New Yorkers CBS2's Ali Bauman spoke to are still mulling it over.

"It's a toss-up between Eric Adams and I think Kathryn Garcia," said Ephraim Savitt, of the Upper West Side.

"I like Maya Wiley," Harlem resident David Hill said.

"I haven't decided yet," Midtown resident Yvonne Lee said.

"We're thinking about Adams but not quite sure yet," said Bobby Blanco, of Hell's Kitchen.

"Yang," Cobble Hill resident Ricky Rivera said.

"I just know not Andrew Yang at the moment," said Cody Simons, of the West Side.

"I'm leaning toward Dianne Morales," Far Rockaway resident Sean Perry said.

"I like Andrew Yang, but I don't know if he's going to fulfill what he says," Harlem resident Curdell Morgan said.

"I believe on the day of the election I'll make my final decision," Harlem resident Peter Grant said.

Watch Marcia Kramer's report

While many haven't made up their minds who to vote for, they all know the issues that are most important to them.

"It's crime, yes. That's the most important issue," said Carol Smith, of Crown Heights.

"Bringing the city back from an economy standpoint and doing something about all the violence in the streets," said Michael Hollander, of the Upper West Side.

"Safety. My safety, the safety of my wife, grandsons. Without that, what've I got?" said Michael Seidman, of the Upper West Side.

Just hours before voting begins, some New Yorkers were still learning about ranked choice voting.

The Board of Elections has been putting out videos to prepare people for the ballot, explaining that you can now rank up to five candidates.

"From one to five? That's ridiculous," Bronx resident Sharon McPherson said.

"I think that's really helpful, actually," Midtown resident J.P. Lemire said.

"I'm definitely gonna do the rank choice," Midtown resident Hector MArtinez said.

"I think I'm only gonna do two," Savitt said.

"I'll do all five," Grant said.

"I figure once I get to the voting polls, maybe I'll ask somebody to explain it to me while I'm there," said Ruben Medina, of Hell's Kitchen.

New Yorkers have the option of voting early through June 20. The election is June 22.

Click here to view CBS2's primary elections guide for voters in New York and New Jersey.

CBS2's Ali Bauman contributed to this report.

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