It’s a new political day in New York City. Although the election results have yet to be officially certified, we can pretty much say for certain that New York will have a new crop of leaders to assist us as we continue to battle COVID-19, housing and education inequities, questions surrounding policing, jails, and homelessness, and so many pressing issues.
Although Eric Adams has been a public servant for decades, first serving in Albany and most recently as Brooklyn Borough President, the new mayor elect is still a bit of an enigma. He is not cut from the traditional Democratic elite. He is proud to claim himself as New York’s first working class mayor. He built a significant coalition in the outer boroughs that was racially and ethnically diverse, as well as quite diverse across class, religion, and even age.
I am interested in observing what Eric Adams and the rest of our electeds view as priorities when they are sworn in on January 1. Who will Adams choose as his Police Commissioner, Schools Chancellor, Public Health Commissioner? Will Adams hire former de Blasio officials, former Bloomberg staff, Republican operatives, quasi-retired former elected officials, or newcomers we’ve never heard of? Will Adams choose from within New York City, or will he look to surround himself with commissioners and leaders from other large cities around the country? We know outsiders have had mixed results when coming into New York
City and devising plans for our schools, police departments, and more.
With Attorney General Tish James running for governor and strong possibilities that Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Mayor Bill de Blasio will also throw their hats in the race, Brooklyn will be the epicenter of much of the gubernatorial conversation and Adams will be the belle of the ball in many ways. How will these three Brooklyn candidates attempt to court mayor-elect and soon-to-be Mayor Adams?
As much of the political gravitational pull has focused on Brooklyn, it appears Harlem is experiencing its own revitalization in the election of Alvin Bragg as the first Black Manhattan District Attorney and the appointment of former Harlem State Senator Brian Benjamin as New York’s newest Lt. Governor. These two men are single handedly putting Harlem back on the political map and I am curious to see if their emergence serves as a political renaissance for the village of Harlem.
What I do know is…we are in for an interesting four years. As New York’s second Black elected mayor, Adams will have to deal with an NYPD, an electorate, and a press corps who may struggle at times with a Black man at the helm. We must continue to stay interested and invested in our local politics well beyond election season so we can become (and stay) informed.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” and the co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC.