- Eric Adams was elected New York City Mayor in the Democratic primaries and will be facing Curtis Sliwa, the Republican nominee.
- Adams was a former captain of police who opposed the “defund the Police” movement, but advocated reform.
- Adams’s 15th birthday saw him being beaten in police custody. Adams claims this incident inspired his determination to become an officer, and help change the department.
NEW YORK – Democrat Eric Adams and Republican Curtis Sliwa will face off Tuesday in New York City’s election, a contest Adams is heavily favored to win.
Adams, the Brooklyn borough president and Democratic nominee who campaigned on a message of public safety, has long been considered the frontrunner to lead the nation’s most populous city, which has a strong Democratic majority.
Adams, if elected would become the second Black mayor of the city. Adams defeated many Democratic challengers and was elected in June’s primary. This marked the beginning of ranked-choice voting in the City.
A former police captain and state senator, Adams is generally considered a moderate Democrat compared to some of his primary challengers, though he has a history of pressing for reform in the New York Police Department.
When you compare all of the mayors who came from their starting points, it is clear that there is none like him. Sid Davidoff is a prominent figure in New York City politics, and was an adviser to John Lindsay in June.
While two recent mayors, Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg, won their first elections as Republican candidates, Democratic voters now outnumber Republicans 7-to-1 in the city, and Sliwa is seen as not coming from the city’s mainstream Republican Party.
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Eric Adams is who?
Adams, 61, was born in Brooklyn and describes himself as a “son of Brownsville,” which is a predominately Black neighborhood. He was brought up in South Jamaica and Queens by a family of working class parents.
When he was 15, he was beaten while in police custody, he said, which sparked his desire to become a police officer and change the department from within.
“I was arrested, I was assaulted by police officers,” Adams told CBS in July. “I didn’t say, ‘Woe is me.’ I said, ‘Why not me.’ I became a police officer. I understand crime, and I also understand police abuse, and I know how we can turn around not only New York but America.”
In 1984, Adams joined the department and later served as the head of the Grand Council of Guardians, a Black officers’ group. In 1995, he formed 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, an advocacy group that sought to fight racial profiling and police brutality while restoring trust among Black residents.
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Adams briefly became a Republican during the 1990s. When he was elected to the New York state Senate in 2006, Adams decided to leave law enforcement. He was a senator until 2013.
Adams, a vegan, said that his plant-based diet has helped improve his health since he was first diagnosed with diabetes. He has a son in his 20s with a former girlfriend, and his partner, Tracey Collins, works in an administrative job in the city’s public school system.
Adams’ career is not without controversy. In 1993, he suggested that Puerto Rican-born politician Herman Badillo should have married a Latina instead of a white, Jewish woman. He complained about gentrifiers moving to New York last year during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event, saying, “Go back to Iowa. You go back to Ohio.”
On the campaign trail, Adams faced criticism after a Politico report detailed discrepancies in his campaign and real estate records. Adams was accused by his opponents of using the government building as a campaign headquarters and living in New Jersey. Adams denies both of these allegations.
Adams indicated he believes his run has national implications, calling himself the “face of the new Democratic Party” days after returns from election night last month showed him leading the race.
“New York is going to show America how to run cities,” Adams also said in July. Because I’m a professional in running this city. I’m a leader.
Curtis Sliwa is who?
Adams’ rival on the Republican side is Sliwa, 67, who is the founder of the Guardian Angels, which started as a subway safety patrol group. Bruce Berg, a Fordham University political science professor, said that Adams did not travel to New York City for the Republican Party establishment.
“I think most people don’t necessarily see me as a Republican. Sliwa stated to the Associated Press that they see me more in the role of a populist.
In the primary, he won former mayor Rudy Giuliani’s endorsement and defeated businessman Fernando Mateo.
Sliwa is well-known in New York City for his dramatic stunts and rescue animals. His vigilante group has accused him of faking crime to get his fight on.
Sliwa told the AP his mayoral bid as a “David-versus-Goliath” campaign.
Eric Adams’ platform for policing helped him win the primary election
The Democratic primary election featured eight major candidates and focused heavily on crime and gun violence, as well as the city’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Adams’ campaign rejected the “defund the police” movement, and he advocated for increasing police presence in high-crime neighborhoods. Some of Adams’ stances were viewed by many political commentators as being more moderate than those of his progressive counterparts.
Adams also advocated “civilizing” the departments manned by officers, and called for hiring more Black and Brown officers. Adams said he plans to appoint the city’s first female police commissioner.
“He really has credibility on both sides of the issue,” Berg said.
Adams narrowly defeated former Department of Sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia in the final elimination round of the ranked choice voting system.
Garcia was a pragmatic candidate who worked many years in crisis management. After Maya Wiley, a former member of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s government, lost the final round, Garcia won the ranked choice vote. Wiley, who was the progressive favorite, had won after other progressive candidates suffered setbacks in their campaigns.
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Andrew Yang (the former Democratic presidential candidate) finished fourth. His campaign was derailed due to a number of key gaffes, from admitting to riding out the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic outside the city to whiffing on questions about policy details.
Adams relied heavily on his base of support in predominately Black and Latino neighborhoods in Brookyln, Queens and the Bronx to win. Berg believes that Adams’ success may also have been due to support from borough-based Democratic Parties. These organizations may be slowly losing strength, but they are still the best in mobilizing voters,” Berg said.
Eric Adams: What can we expect from him if he wins?
Berg predicted Adams’ success in his first term would largely depend on where the city is in its COVID-19 recovery in January, and addressing public safety will probably be his first test.
“If he can handle police reform early on, and make everybody reasonably happy … Berg stated that he believes that Berg would have a successful first year.
Davidoff said Adams would take on a role he has never faced before in his political career, handling the city’s large budget and appointing heads of its vast bureaucracy.
Adams stated that he will make the city more welcoming to businesses, in addition to vowing to improve public safety. “We have been defined as a business-enemy city instead of a business-friendly city,” he said in a September appearance on Bloomberg Radio.
Adams also recently signaled his support for the city schools’ gifted and talented program, which de Blasio said he would being to phase out.
Adams and De Blasio are in agreement on COVID-19 mandates for all city workers (including police officers), though Adams indicated that he would still have discussed the issue with union leadership before mandating it.
Contribution: The Associated Press
Follow USA TODAY’s Ryan Miller via Twitter @RyanW_Miller