Primary day is around the corner, and many New Yorkers are still unsure how they'll rank (up to) their top 5 mayoral candidate picks in a very crowded race (there are over a dozen candidates on the ballot). We've heard them all talk policy, give their stump speeches, and take jabs at each other, but how would they answer a few simple questions related to the city they want to run?
Read More: Here's where the candidates stand on issues that matter to New Yorkers
In a survey we sent to the top eight leading Democratic candidates, six replied, telling us their favorite (and least favorite) things about this city, which building they'd like to tear down, and more—their answers offer a little bit of insight into who they are as New Yorkers.
Below, find responses from Eric Adams, Shaun Donovan, Kathryn Garcia, Dianne Morales, Maya Wiley, and Andrew Yang. (Ray McGuire and Scott Stringer declined to answer.)
How long have you lived in New York City, and what is your current neighborhood?
Eric Adams: All 60 years of my life. Born in Brownsville; raised in South Jamaica; now live in Bedford-Stuvesant.
Shaun Donovan: My entire life (aside from my time away for education and federal service in Washington, DC.). Boerum Hill, Brooklyn.
Kathryn Garcia: 51 years. Park Slope, Brooklyn.
Dianne Morales: I was born in Brooklyn and I'm still in Brooklyn. I left for some years for school. Bed-Stuy.
Maya Wiley: I moved to Central Brooklyn 30 years ago and before that lived in Harlem as a law student at Columbia Law School. Central Brooklyn.
Andrew Yang: 25 years. Hell's Kitchen.
If you could tear down one building in New York City, what would it be?
Eric Adams: Rikers
Shaun Donovan: Penn Station, and then replace it with the original Penn Station!
Kathryn Garcia: We're overdue to tear down a number of buildings on Rikers—and execute on the Renewable Rikers vision
Dianne Morales: Half of the storage unit buildings in the Bronx
Maya Wiley: 200 Amsterdam Avenue
Andrew Yang: There’s any number of blighted, hazardous buildings across the city
Which NYC historical figure do you most admire?
Eric Adams: Shirley Chisholm
Shaun Donovan: Mayor Fiorello Laguardia. He saved NYC from the Great Depression (in no small part because of his relationship with President Roosevelt), loved building affordable housing, and reformed city government to put public service ahead of politics.
Kathryn Garcia: Eleanor Roosevelt
Dianne Morales: Shirley Chisholm
Maya Wiley: I am deeply inspired by Shirley Chisholm. As I contemplated running for mayor, her words rang in my ears: “You don’t make progress by sitting on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.”
Andrew Yang: Alexander Hamilton
What is your favorite restaurant?
Eric Adams: Two Steps Down
Shaun Donovan: Rucola, my neighborhood cafeteria!
Kathryn Garcia: My sister's place, Outerspace in Bushwick
Dianne Morales: Dino’s on DeKalb Ave in Fort Greene
Maya Wiley: I have so many; I gotta do borough-based. Peaches is a big one for me in [Bed-Stuy] Brooklyn. And Il Posto Accanto on the Lower East Side is a favorite. If I’m in southeast Queens and St. Albans, Portofino, because Carmine is the most lovely being on the planet and the food is very good and you eat whatever he tells you. Uptown, Melba’s can put pounds on me any day of the week.
Andrew Yang: Ippudo
What is your favorite book about (or featuring) New York City?
Eric Adams: The Power Broker, Robert Caro
Shaun Donovan: Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison. It inspired me to work with the homeless, the “invisible” of our city who we notice but don’t really see.
Kathryn Garcia: Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann
Dianne Morales: Down These Mean Streets, Piri Thomas
Maya Wiley: Go Tell It On The Mountain, James Baldwin
Andrew Yang: The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
What is your favorite touristy thing to do here?
Eric Adams: Statue of Liberty cruise
Shaun Donovan: Visit Ellis Island, where I got to be the keynote speaker at my dad’s Citizenship ceremony
Kathryn Garcia: Too many to pick just one, but my favorites are riding the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and seeing the Christmas lights in Dyker Heights
Dianne Morales: Dinner and a Broadway show
Maya Wiley: I love going to see a Broadway show. New York is not New York without the arts
Andrew Yang: Going with my family to Coney Island in the summer
Favorite celebrity sighting?
Eric Adams: Forest Whitaker
Shaun Donovan: Derek Jeter at a restaurant when I was having dinner with my sons - all three of us are lifelong Yankee fans!
Kathryn Garcia: My friend and I ran into Madonna walking past the Dakota when we were in high school — she was dressed up like a doll and had the most amazing eye makeup.
Dianne Morales: Harry Belafonte at his 90th birthday party at The Apollo. Sat two rows in front of him.
Maya Wiley: I made Robert DeNiro give me a hug when I made sure to bump into him going on set at MSNBC!
Andrew Yang: Steve Nash and I shot hoops in Battery Park.
What is the thing that annoys you most about living here?
Eric Adams: Our dysfunctional city agencies.
Shaun Donovan: New Yorkers leaving when the city is in crisis.
Kathryn Garcia: Traffic!
Dianne Morales: Slow walking tourists on the sidewalks.
Maya Wiley: Its displacement of so many New Yorkers who can’t afford the rent or who live in transit deserts and have to travel hours to and from work. It is a deep challenge for struggling families, too often people who are struggling to make ends meet are making all our lives better through their work for us. We need to care for those who care for all of us.
Andrew Yang: Traffic
What is the thing that you love the most about New York City?
Eric Adams: The diversity of its people.
Shaun Donovan: The people and our city’s diversity.
Kathryn Garcia: Being able to walk everywhere, and experience those magical moments like turning a corner to find a dance performance on the sidewalk, or the sound of opera filling a subway station, or happening upon a hole in the wall restaurant in Jackson Heights with the best empanadas ever.
Dianne Morales: ALL the people! The languages, cultures, food, communities!!
Maya Wiley: Everyone is here! Everyone! We have 800 languages spoken, every religion. We have descendants of North American slaves and the largest urban Native American population, while almost 40% of this city is foreign born! We have artists, musicians and innovators of all kinds. My own journey in New York began when I spent one of my earliest years in a Mitchell-Lama apartment on the Lower East Side. And while my family soon moved away, I ALWAYS knew I was moving back! Its people make it magical and I love this place with all its grit and glory! That’s the thing about New York: When you look at it through the eyes of a child, you can’t deny that the very existence of this place is a miracle.
Andrew Yang: New York City is the greatest provider of opportunity in the world. I personally owe New York City everything. It was here I met my wife, Evelyn, and raised our two amazing sons. Over the two and a half decades I’ve lived here, I have started businesses, run one of the nation’s leading education companies, founded a non-profit, and launched a presidential campaign that grew into a full-fledged anti-poverty movement. I want New York City to continue being that place – for all New Yorkers.