ABC, NBC, and Spectrum News NY1 to Host Live Televised Debates for New York City's 2021 Elections

11/03/2021

NYC Votes today announced the broadcast sponsors and schedule for the 2021 citywide Debate Program. Spectrum News NY1, WABC-TV, and WNBC-TV will each air live mayoral and comptroller debates ahead of the primary election on June 22.

Each debate will be co-hosted by partner media outlets and leading civic and higher educational organizations in New York City.

  • Spectrum News NY1 is co-hosting with WNYC - Gothamist, THE CITY, Citizens Union, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and Social Work Votes (Columbia School of Social Work & Latino Leadership Institute)
  • WABC-TV is co-hosting with The League of Women Voters of NYC, Univision 41 Nueva York / WADO-AM, Hispanic Federation, and NAACP NYS Conference
  • WNBC-TV is co-hosting with Telemundo 47, Politico, Citizens Budget Commission, and New York Urban League

2021 Debate Schedule

Primary Election Debates | Election Day June 22
Mayoral
Democratic
Thursday, May 13
7 pm - 9 pm
Spectrum News NY1
Mayoral
Republican
Wednesday, May 26
7 pm - 8 pm
Spectrum News NY1
Mayoral
Democratic
Wednesday, June 2
7 pm - 9 pm
WABC-TV
Mayoral
Republican
"Leading Contenders"
Sunday, June 6
(Time TBD)
WABC - TV
Comptroller
Democratic
Thursday, June 10
7 pm - 8 pm
Spectrum News NY1
Mayoral
Democratic
"Leading Contenders"
Wednesday, June 16
7 pm - 8 pm
WNBC-TV
Comptroller
Democratic
"Leading Contenders"
Sunday, June 20
9:30 am - 10:30 am
WNBC-TV
— General Election Debates | Election Day November 2
Mayoral Wednesday, October 20
7 pm - 8 pm
WNBC-TV
Mayoral
"Leading Contenders"
Tuesday, October 26
7 pm - 8 pm
WABC-TV


Amy Loprest, Executive Director of the Campaign Finance Board, said: "In the most wide-open election in decades, these debates will be critical pivot points in deciding the future of New York City. Debates allow voters to compare candidates and learn how they would lead the city. These debates will be more important than ever as city voters prepare to cast Ranked Choice ballots for the first time in June. We hope all New Yorkers will tune-in so that they can make the best choices for their families, their future, and their communities."

“There is no shortage of important issues awaiting the leaders of America’s largest city – all at a very critical time. Our WNBC news team is ready to lead this important dialogue. Our journalists understand the issues important to New Yorkers because they are New Yorkers, too. We look forward to hosting this series of informative and spirited debates, helping all New Yorkers make their preferred choices at the ballot box,” said Amy Morris, NBC 4 New York Vice President of News.

“With journalists embedded in neighborhoods across the five boroughs, NY1 is able to deliver stories that illuminate perspectives important to New Yorkers so they are able to be more fully engaged in their communities, ” said Helen Swenson, Vice President Content and News, Spectrum News NY1. “Combined with our rich history of hosting political forums and debates, and together with the Campaign Finance Board and our partners, we look forward to bringing the mayoral candidates' issues to the forefront so our viewers are more empowered to make informed decisions ahead of the primary election.”

“Our city’s Spanish-speaking communities have been particularly hard-hit by COVID-19. Families have extensive questions for New York’s next leaders on any number of important topics – and we are ready to bring them the answers they deserve. We look forward to working with our partners on these important public dialogues,” said Freddy Oldenburg, Telemundo 47 Vice President of News.

“New York City is home to the largest Latino community in the country, and it is vital that they get the information needed to make an informed decision during one of the most pivotal mayoral races in our city’s history. Informing and empowering our community is part of our core mission at Univision New York, and we are proud to provide the 2.5 million Hispanics residing in NYC’s five boroughs an in-depth look at this year’s candidates through our multiplatform coverage,” said Roberto Yañez, President and General Manager of Univision New York.

Audrey Cooper, Editor-in-Chief at New York Public Radio/WNYC, said: "New York City is wrestling with tremendous, intractable problems, and it’s never been so essential to have an informed electorate making decisions about who will lead the city. That’s why WNYC is honored to cohost the first official mayoral and comptroller debates of this year’s elections. Elevating a civic conversation and making sure voters have the information they need about the candidates before them is what makes local journalism essential to a functioning democracy, and we are thrilled to play our part in it."

“How the city manages the current crises will determine how well it survives and ultimately thrives. The Citizens Budget Commission is pleased to have the opportunity to use its nonpartisan, fact-based research to inform New Yorkers’ choice of leaders. Hard choices lie ahead, and CBC’s deep expertise on finance, efficiency, housing affordability, NYCHA and Health + Hospitals can help shine a light on the candidates’ approaches, proposals, and specific planned actions,” said Andrew Rein, President, Citizens Budget Commission.

Betsy Gotbaum, Executive Director of Citizens Union, said: "This year's election will shape New York City government for a generation. It is important that New Yorkers are able to hear directly from the candidates who want to serve as their next Mayor and Comptroller so they can make an informed choice when they cast their ballot. We are proud to partner with the Campaign Finance Board on these important candidate debates, and look forward to lively and informative discussions about the future of our city."

Melissa Begg, Dean of Columbia University's School of Social Work, said: "We are excited to participate in the upcoming New York City mayoral debate, and eager to uphold the right to vote and debate critical issues not only in the city, but nationwide."

"Hispanic Federation is proud to have been selected as an official sponsor of the New York City mayoral debates. Through our civic engagement efforts, we continue to mobilize, engage and inform Latino voters on the importance of participating in all elections while providing them with the tools and resources necessary to cast an informed ballot,” said Frankie Miranda, President of the Hispanic Federation. “In 2020 alone, HF engaged with over 300,000 Latino voters in the city. This partnership with the NYCCFB, ABC, Univision, the League of Women Voters, and the NAACP is a continuation of that work. We are committed to ensuring that Hispanic voters across NYC understand the newly-implemented Ranked Choice Voting method; and that our community is engaged in a culturally competent manner during one of the largest municipal elections in New York City history."

“As a higher education institution dedicated to justice, public service, and civic engagement, John Jay College is delighted to partner with Spectrum News, NY 1 and other leading organizations to host a series of debates that will help inform voters on how candidates will approach issues and invest in the future,” said Karol V. Mason, President of John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “For me, voting in all elections is a sacred right because my parents were part of the generation that fought hard for Black people’s right to vote. John Jay College and The City University of New York are working to increase young voter turnout in the upcoming city election as local government has a direct impact on everyday lives. Raising awareness for the power of the ballot and our commitment to the debates are ways to inspire passionate civic participation and democracy in action.”

"The Latino Leadership Institute is proud to be a debate co-sponsor, for the third time, and contribute to the civic and democratic dialogue in New York City," said Jaime Estades, President of the Latino Leadership Institute.

"The 2021 elections will provide us with the opportunity to impact our local communities in a direct and meaningful way and with the inception of Ranked Choice Voting voters can truly vote louder; so, let’s make it happen New York," said Crystal Joseph, Vice President of Communications at the League of Women Voters of New York City.

“The NAACP New York State Conference Metropolitan Council is excited to partner on the 2021 NYC debates to help educate voters throughout our communities going into the rapidly approaching primary election. This year understanding the process and the new Ranked Choice Voting method is essential to the continuing work of improving the City of New York. We look forward to engaging voters in this crucial election season,” said Hazel Dukes, President, NAACP NYS Conference.

Arva Rice, President and CEO of the New York Urban League, said: "As New York City faces one of its toughest challenges - recovery from COVID and a racial awakening - we are so pleased to partner with NBC, Telemundo, POLITICO and the Citizens Budget Commission to host these crucial debates for NYC Mayor and Comptroller. As we vote in a new way, it is more important than ever to give voters an opportunity to learn as much as they can about our candidates and their perspectives on how to help New York rebound and thrive."

"POLITICO is thrilled to partner with our colleagues at NBC, Telemundo, the New York Urban League and the Citizens Budget Commission to host these crucial debates for mayor and comptroller. This is the most important city election in recent memory and we're eager to give voters a comprehensive look at the people and the policies that will shape New York's post-pandemic future," said David Giambusso, New York City editor, POLITICO.

"The people of New York need to see candidates put to tough public scrutiny of their records, their leadership and their visions for the city's future," said Jere Hester, editor in chief of THE CITY. "We're thrilled to be part of a stellar lineup determined to deliver the hard-hitting, issue-driven debates that New Yorkers demand and deserve — no more so than at this pivotal point in our history."

HOW TO WATCH
In addition to the television partners listed above, each debate will be simulcast on NYC Media. Specific details on how to tune-in will be included in media advisories released prior to each debate.

ABOUT THE DEBATE PROGRAM
The NYC Campaign Finance Board (CFB) has administered debates for every citywide election since 1997. The debates are a key component of the CFB’s nonpartisan voter engagement initiative, NYC Votes. City law calls for two debates to be held per election (primary and general election), per citywide office (mayor, comptroller, and public advocate). If only one candidate qualifies for a debate, that debate is not held. Candidates participating in the city's matching funds program must participate in each debate for which they have met objective, nonpartisan eligibility criteria.

Due to the broad and competitive field of candidates in the Democratic mayoral primary, the CFB and Spectrum News NY1 have agreed to host a non-mandatory debate on May 13. The eligibility criteria established in the city’s Campaign Finance Act will be the threshold to participate in this debate.

DEBATE PARTICIPATION THRESHOLDS
Candidates participating in the city's public matching funds program are required to participate in each debate for which they meet nonpartisan, objective eligibility criteria. Candidates who are not participating in the campaign finance program may be invited to the debate by the sponsors, if the candidate meets the eligibility criteria.

If only one candidate qualifies for a debate, then that debate is not held. This schedule reflects all debates anticipated at this time; if two or more candidates meet the eligibility thresholds then debates will be added for those offices.

Under New York City's Campaign Finance Act, must have raised and spent 2.5% of the spending limit for that office as reflected in the campaign finance disclosure reported prior to the debate.

NYC Debate Eligibility Criteria - 2021 Elections

Office Sought Spending Limit Debate Participation Threshold
Mayor $7,286,000 $182,150
Public Advocate, Comptroller $4,555,000 $113,875


For the second, "leading contenders" debate for each office, the debate sponsors may use additional, objective, nonpartisan, nondiscriminatory criteria. The full criteria for all debates is available here.

NYC Votes is the nonpartisan voter engagement initiative of the New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB) and its Voter Assistance Advisory Committee (VAAC). In addition to promoting voter registration, participation, and civic engagement in New York City through its many programs and partnerships, NYC Votes sponsors the city’s official Debate Program and produces the citywide Voter Guide.