With a résumé that includes over 20 years serving as an NYPD police officer, a state senator and as Brooklyn Borough president, Eric Adams is planning his next move as New York City’s mayor.
Announcing his candidacy last month, Adams, 60, launched his campaign based off of his own life experiences growing up in Brooklyn and Queens. He peppered in his own negative interaction with law enforcement where he and his brother were assaulted by a police officer as a teen.
The experience led him to become an NYPD officer. During his 22 years on the force, Adams co-founded the organization 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care and joined the chorus of many speaking out against racial profiling and police brutality. He retired at the rank of captain.
After a failed run for Congress, Adams was elected to the New York State Senate in 2006, serving until 2013 representing the 20th District in Brooklyn covering Crown Heights, East Flatbush and Brownsville.
He was elected the first African American Brooklyn Borough president in 2013. If elected mayor, Adams would be the second African American mayor of New York City.
Speaking to the AmNews, Adams said he decided to run for mayor because of his experiences growing up in the city and the difficulties he faced that many in the city are also dealing with. He talked about his experience of having to carry a garbage bag full of clothes to school because of fears his family would be evicted from their home.
“I’ve dedicated my life to helping people who are living the life that I lived,” Adams said. “I know what works in this city and I know what doesn’t work. Far too many things are not working for everyday New Yorkers who are in need of government services. I believe that our city is dysfunctional.”
If Adams takes office in 2021, he will be dealing with what many hope is the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whoever is elected to office will have to take on the issues of a post-COVID New York City. Adams said he has three areas he wants to tackle to reopen the city: controlling COVID-19 by containing hotspots and making testing easier, getting federal assistance to reopen small businesses, and safety when it comes to violent crime.
“We’ve witnessed the spike in crime over the last few months,” he said. “It’s imperative that businesses can come here, stay here [and] increase our tourism again. The city must be a safe city.”
When it comes to schools and the recent closures, Adams said many students in the city still don’t have the proper tools to be successful academically.
“I would keep our schools open,” Adams said. “The numbers are showing that if there’s any place where we have gotten it correct, it is in our schools. There’s no reason to continue to close the schools. It is a place where our children are safe. I am extremely troubled over the lack of WiFi, the lack of iPads and other equipment that is needed for our students. I believe it is imperative that we refocus our attention to make sure that we have broadband in all of our locations.”
While serving as a police officer, Adams was vocal on issues of brutality and racial profiling. In order to improve police-community relations he wants to improve diversity among officers by promoting officers from “minor league” agencies, such as the transit police and school safety officers, to the NYPD; allow local communities to select precinct commanders; and institute a policy of zero tolerance for abuse and officers aware of abuse who do not report it.
“We’re going to change the energy within the police department and we are going to put in more support in changing the ecosystem of public safety,” Adams said. “Being more proactive instead of reactive.”
Since the start of the pandemic, the city has seen a severe spike in violent crimes. Shootings have doubled compared to last year and murders are up by 50%. To make streets safer, Adams says he wants to take a new approach to tackle gun violence.
“The prerequisite to prosperity is public safety and we need to focus our attention specifically on gun violence and gang violence,” he said. “In addition to some proactive steps we can take, there are some things we can do right away. I would constitute the anti-crime unit and turn it into an anti-gun unit.”
As more luxury buildings go up in the city, Adams wants to take on affordable housing by building more micro-units, repurposing hotels, changing building codes to allow basement apartments, and sharing spaces for seniors. However, improving living conditions in NYCHA will be a top priority.
“NYCHA is an important housing stock and we need to focus on stabilizing NYCHA,” Adams said. “As mayor, I’m going to give NYCHA their own ombudsman. An attorney they can trust as we navigate these complex conversations around NYCHA. We need to look at projects that would allow longer term tenants to move into some of the new units and tear down those units that are beyond repair and build new units for new NYCHA families.”
As he gets his campaign underway, Adams said that he stands out from the other candidates because he considers himself a “blue collar mayor.”
“There’s nothing fancy about me,” he said. “I have calluses on my hands. I understand what everyday New Yorkers are going through when I see their faces on the subway system or when they are trying to ensure they can provide for their families. I’m a mayoral candidate that has gone through a lot and I think it’s to have a mayor that has gone through a lot so he can help people that are going through a lot.”
So far, Adams has received endorsements from City Council Members Laurie Cumbo, Darma Diaz, I. Daneek Miller, former Congressman Ed Towns and the New York State Court Officers Association.