Excluding the political cataclysm, Eric Leroy Adams, a former police captain who became a Democratic politician, will become the next mayor of New York City.
For Mr Adams, a charismatic Brooklyn County president and Democratic mayoral candidate, winning Tuesday’s general election is likely to be an easy part. Democrats more than Republicans in New York nearly seven to one. The real challenge comes in January, when the new mayor will start setting up a city with a pandemic.
If elected, Mr Adams will enter the town hall with very few of the advantages that Bill de Blasio enjoyed eight years ago. For example, he may have to lead the city’s recovery without the same generous surpluses and a stable economy. Unlike Mr de Blasio, Mr Adams barely won the Democrats’ primary. For effective governance, he will also have to find a way to convince those who did not vote for him – which includes a large portion of voters in his own party – to be mayor for all New Yorkers.
Since the Democratic election, much of the mayoral race has focused on crime. Mr Adams has largely focused his campaign on public order and peace, while supporting police reform. This may seem strange to a democratic politician in liberal New York. It comes from Mr. Adams – who served in the police administration for 22 years and rose to the rank of captain, although he publicly fought for the reform of the department – there are more complicated.
Mr. Adams, who is black and grew up in Southern Jamaica, Queens, in many ways represents the infamous famine of black communities both on safer streets and on better policing. If Mr Adams can better protect communities bearing the burden of gun violence, while bringing responsibility and reform to the city’s police administration, as he promised, it will be a victory.
The city also faces other, probably even bigger challenges.
The main priorities for the next administration should include ensuring that around one million urban public school students recover from a year of lost learning in the pandemic, in particular 600,000 students who studied at a distance last year. Even as the pandemic subsides, the city’s public school system needs significant help: for some, more help 100,000 homeless students in the city, thorough reforms to improve schools in low-income communities and progress in integrating some of the most separately schools.
To fund better schools and all the other good that the administration is capable of doing, it is crucial that New York regains a solid financial foundation. This means working with businesses large and small to restart an economic engine that can drive progress.
This progress should include the construction of much more affordable housing, especially in rich areas with good transit, where less urban subsidies are needed to create units for the poor and middle-income New Yorkers.
The city should step up its strenuous march in the direction of clearing its streets of cars for pedestrians, restaurants and cyclists. Of course, the ultimate success there depends on getting the besieged subway system back on its feet. This means maintaining good relations with the governor, who has real power over the city’s transit system. The endless cycle of fruitless quarrels between the former governor and the current mayor has not helped anyone.
The next administration will also have to work with the state government to close the prison complex Rikers Island, which is firmly committed to reforms that prioritize mental health services and modernize detention facilities while protecting the city.
All this work needs to be done, while continuing to protect this coastal city from the rising tides of climate change.
There are also several policy areas where we hope Mr Adams will address them to change his thoughts over the next four years from the promises made during the campaign. We hope he will be more interested in the racial integration of urban public schools. We also hope that it will take a stricter approach to ensuring that ultra-Orthodox yeshivas that have been the subject of serious complaints from parents and alumni actually meet basic state educational standards.
If polls and history are any indication, Mr Adams has little competition on Tuesday in the ballot box with Curtis Sliwa, a Republican and founder of the Guardian Angels, who has made some detailed suggestions on what he would do in the position. Voters who want to differentiate between the two should look no further than the fact that Mr. Adams supports city mandates that require the vaccination of thousands of city workers. Mr Sliwa not only does not support the mandate, but has recently been a marshal along with workers protesting against the policy.
Mr. Adams has our support.
We are encouraged by the passion that Mr. Adams shows up to advocate for the needs of working-class New Yorkers who have been excluded from urban success for too long. Some of Mr. Adams ’most thoughtful ideas include simple policies and changes stemming from his personal experience. His promise to create a universal overview for dyslexia – a learning problem that Mr. Adams engaged as a child – is a encouraging example of how deeply he understands the role the city government can play in a child’s life.
A few years ago, Mr. Adams reshaped his diet and is now vegan. For many politicians, this would be a biographical detail. Mr. Adams participated story in a call to arms (as well as in a cookbook) and a sharp example of the link between racism and health for black Americans. He said he is determined to improve the quality of food in schools, prisons and shelters.
“When we feed people, we only have to feed them healthy food,” he said said Ezra Klein of the Times Opinion. “They go into government because they have no other choice. So it’s almost a betrayal when you know someone has no choice but to eat what you give them and give them food that feeds their chronic diseases.
For some voters, this may be by far a priority. But millions of New Yorkers need a mayor who so clearly understands the impact of municipal government on their daily lives.