Eric Adams Bids For Mayor: Will The City Elect a Moderate or Go Progressive?

Eric Adams
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Eric Adams seeks election as Mayor of New York City as moderate voice. Photo: ericadams2021.com

Eric Adams says he’s dedicated his entire career to public service and specifically serving the people of New York City. 

He’s been a New York Police Department (NYPD) Captain, New York State Senator and, currently, Brooklyn Borough President. Now he’s  asking New Yorkers to elect him as their next mayor. “I am running for mayor because our city has betrayed everyday New Yorkers, especially Black, Brown and immigrant communities,” Adams says, in an interview with Black Star News.

“There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in,” he adds, quoting Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Democrats vote June 22 in the primaries and because they outnumber Republican voters by about six-to-one the winner has a clear path to Gracie Mansion. As of May 27 a PIX11 Emerson poll shows Adams and another candidate Kathryn Garcia in a deadheat, with 20 points and 21 points, respectively. Andrew Yang is shown with 16 points, Scott Stringer with 10, and Maya Wiley with 9 points. 

Adams has been on a 24-year journey that he hopes will culminate with his election as mayor. Adams says over this period, he’s been able to document policies and programs that he would like to reform or implement. He’s been observing and analyzing City agencies, policies, and procedures. He says he’s filled up 26 notebooks based on his observations. 

Presently, City agencies are focused on pulling people out of situations, rather than addressing the roots and systemic causes of the many dysfunctions, Adams says. New York needs to transition from treating symptoms to pursuing remedies, Adams says. He believes that the City must pursue two strategies, depending on the issue at hand: intervention and prevention. 

Some of Adams’ ideas can be found in his manifesto, “Eric Adams’ 100+ Steps Forward” which is posted on his campaign website. In the foreword, Adams writes: “All these steps forward are guided by a simple truth: government inefficiency leads to social injustice. And these steps will make New York’s government smarter and more effective in order to provide a safer, fairer city that is better prepared for the future.”

Voters might ask, how could a person who himself is so entrenched in the bureaucracy orchestrate change? Adams says he’s been a change agent throughout his career. He’s reminded New Yorkers time and again—especially now with the campaign commercials running on local television stations—that after he was arrested and assaulted by cops as a teenager he didn’t give up on the police. Instead, he vowed to change policing from within and joined the NYPD. He says one of his main goals was to reform the agency by tackling discriminatory policies and procedures, so he co-founded One Hundred Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care. 

Adams reminds New Yorkers that in March 2010, as a state senator he was the only elected official that stood with a group of education activists opposing Governor Andrew Cuomo’s draconian budget cuts. Now, at Brooklyn’s Borough Hall, Adams says he’s used his  position to turn policy recommendations into action. He recalls with pride the creation, under his watch, of the Brooklyn STEAM Center, a program that offers courses to high school students in science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics for High School students, at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Adams says he’s the best candidate for mayor, having carefully studied the various aspects of City government, having policed the streets, and now running a large staff. He knows the bureaucracy well, with his over 30 years of public service. “The next mayor must understand the intricacies of City agencies, otherwise they will run circles around you,” Adams says.

Adams says as mayor he’ll install commissioners and agency heads who are intelligent, compassionate, and critical upstream thinkers. He aims to avoid the patronage system, long associated with politics, of doling out jobs to party loyalist and financial supporters. Adams says he’ll seek commissioners who are experienced professionals willing to pursue and implement new policies and programs, rather than regurgitate the status quo. During a recent Zoom session with African immigrants Adams said he will make sure immigrants play a major role in his administration. When asked by an audience member if he’d commit to appoint an African immigrant deputy mayor Adams said it would’t be fair to make such an early commitment without first reviewing everyone’s credentials. 

There was a great level of panic amongst municipal employees when Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that there could massive furloughs and layoffs to offset the decline in revenue as a result of the financial devastation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The de Blasio administration and DC 37, the powerful union which represents most city employees, were able to negotiate a deal which averted massive layoffs. If implemented, the layoffs would have placed thousands out of work and placed considerable strain on our social safety-net programs—unemployment, public assistance, and SNAP. 

Adams says he’s opposed to municipal employee layoffs because it would disproportionately affect women, and Black and Brown communities. He says, instead, he’d place hiring freezes until the City’s financial fortunes improved. DC37, has endorsed Adams and his 100+ Steps Forward, which also calls for a freeze to aid the City’s economic recovery. In addition to a proposed hiring freeze, Adams says he would also work with the union on a deal for early retirement for long-time employees.

Adams has been criticized by some in the progressive community for opposing the demand to “defund the police” which was popularized nationally during Black Lives Matter campaigns, in the wake of the brutal murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020. 

Adams is considered a moderate voice because he opposes defunding police departments and also supports limited use of stop-and-frisk. Adams says crime is very present and that the police are needed to keep our cities safe. It’s the police abuse that needs to be eliminated, he says. Instead of “defunding” police departments, the racial and ideological composition of police departments need to change. He wants more Black and Brown people to join the NYPD. 

Adams says he’s been an active and consistent voice for police reform over the last 20 years. He says he’s stood with the victims of police brutality and dedicated his time and resources to help prevent police abuses. Through One Hundred Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, Adams says he and and his team, regularly pointed out inequities and discriminatory practices in NYPD policies and procedures. As a victim of police brutality himself, Adams says he’s personally experienced the indignity that many Black and Brown men have suffered at the hands of NYPD. 

Throughout his career, Adams has been regarded as a moderate voice on most issues. An example was Adams recommendation that the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) approve the rezoning of the 80 Flatbush Avenue real estate development in Downtown Brooklyn. Residents and the building developers were in a heated dispute over the building’s proposed bulk and density. Adams listened to both sides attentively, gathered as much data as possible, and ultimately recommended the structure be reduced by 300 feet or approximately 28 stories. “I am a deeper listener, who seeks first to understand, then to be understood,” Adams says, of his leadership style. 

In a sea filled with mayoral candidates vying for the title of progressive, will New Yorkers vote Eric Adams as the next mayor? All will be revealed on June 22. 

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