Transcript for NYC mayoral candidates vying for 1 of the biggest political prizes of 2021: Karl
New York that criminalized young people and put them into life-long incarceral cycles. It tend ends now. These are the stakes. Maya Wiley is the one. She will be a Progressive in Gracie mansion. There you see AOC endorsing Maya Wiley. With 13 candidates in the hunt to replace mayor bill de Blasio, they will also have a new ranked voting system. We'll have more on that after this report from Jon Karl. Welcome to the second debate of the democratic candidates for the mayoral race in New York. Reporter: Eight candidates vying for one of the biggest political prizes of 2021,spread apart, but in person and together, in politics too, life is getting back to normal. I'm not a career politician I'm not funded by a pac. I've been your crisis manager. We need change and a fresh start. This race is a classic new York free for all, but it is also the largest election anyone in the country by far since the end of the trump presidency and since we turned the corner on the pandemic. Back to normal, but there is something surprising happening in Progressive New York City. You might think this would be a race to the left, the leading candidates are talking tough on crime. Opposing tax hikes and talking about keeping businesses in new York. Last year's defund the police rallying cry, not here, not now. What you do to the overall budget for the NYPD? I have not been planning to make changes to the budget. We will look at them from whether or not there are efficiencies to be found, but I believe we need to have our patrol strength on the streets of New York. Reporter: What happened with the whole defund the police movement that was so big just last year? Defund the police is the wrong approach for New York City. Most new yorkers I talk to are very, very concerned about what is going on in their neighborhood and if anything they want to see more officers and we need to go on a recruitment drive city wide for Reporter: Eric Adams is campaigning as a former cop, who was also a victim of police brutality as a teenager. I'm Eric Adams. I'll be a blue collar mayor. I'll rebuild our economy while tackling violent crime and bring New York back. Reporter: What is the number one issue in this race? Public safety. Public safety is really the foundation for all the issues. We can't turn around our economy if we're not safe. Reporter: There are Progressives in the race. Good afternoon. Reporter: Maya Wiley got a big endorsement from congressman Alexandria ocasio-cortez. She says she would take a billion dollars out of the police budget. We are going to stop the hiring in the next two police cadet classes and as I have said we have a police department that is bloated. Reporter: That has been a tougher argument to make when the city is in the midst of a rise in crime. The overall crime rate in new York City is up more than 20% since last year. Shooting incidents up more than 70%. We caught up with candidate Andrew yang on the campaign trail in Brooklyn, where he turned a heckler at a press conference -- I want him to tell me what he's doing right. Reporter: -- Into a potential supporter. Aw. Reporter: Yang is something of the celebrity candidate, breaking through in large part because he is well known from his run for president last year. Lately he's become the biggest target. Harsh cover New York magazine, who really wants Andrew yang to be mayor. What's up with that? A lot of people, apparently. We have the most individual grassrooters in New York City than any other candidate. Reporter: Yang says public safety is not just about recruiting more cops, but also turning around the city's pandemic ravaged economy. What about taxes? Right now would be the wrong time to raise taxes here in new York City. We do have $12 billion in federal aid or so and a lot of families now are looking around wondering whether this is the place for them to raise their family to build a business, we cannot give people more reasons to start looking at places like Florida because the reality is we need people who make a lot of money to pay their taxes right here in New York City. Reporter: The tough on crime, pro business, no tax increase approach sounds a little bit like the early mayor Bloomberg and maybe even mayor Rudy Giuliani back in the day. One thing I want to take from his example is hiring a group of world class managers who are not ideological, results oriented, just solving problems and getting things done for new York. Reporter: As yang faces criticism he has no real experience to be mayor, the candidate who seems to be rising fastest is Kathryn Garcia. For 14 years my job has been to solve problems for New York. And I've got no plan to stop now. Reporter: The city's former sanitation commissioner Garcia's campaign is strikingly nonideological, her message, she can do the job. She also says schools should be fully reopened already with in person classes. Is there some resistance from the teachers unions on this? Yeah, I don't understand this. They're eligible for vaccinated. We have our infection rate is almost zero at this point. We know from the beginning that young children weren't transmitting. We can do this safely and we need to do this safely. Reporter: Democratic primary is less than three weeks away. Whoever wins will face the daunting challenge of governing a place long ago called the ungovernable city. And facing some of the toughest times in decades. People carry knives on our subway system. Reporter: Is that good training to be mayor of new York? I think so. Thanks to Jon for that.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.