Among the many candidates running for mayor, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has the strongest combination of public sector management experience, political judgment and New York City relatability. That’s why I will vote for him in the Democratic Primary on June 22.
And in case you’re wondering, no: I have no connection to the campaign. I wasn’t asked to write this. I am simply, among other things, a scholar of the New York City mayoralty who’s written books about Mike Bloomberg and David Dinkins and likes what he sees in Adams.
The leader who takes office on Jan. 1, 2022 will face daunting challenges. A lingering health pandemic that has battered the local economy and created a municipal budget gap coincides with a spike in violent crime and a crisis of confidence in our law enforcement agencies because of racially biased policing. The dire situation piles atop a pre-existing affordable housing crisis and record homelessness, a transit system in trouble and a segregated school system failing two-thirds of our students, all while the existential risk of climate change hovers over us. It is no time for an amateur.
All of the candidates say they will respond to the fraught circumstances. Here are three important reasons to bet on Adams.
He has the highest credibility as a leader who can reverse the surge in crime while overseeing fundamental changes at the New York Police Department.
He has a plan for helping small businesses pummeled by COVID, which is the key to New York’s full economic recovery.
He has a holistic understanding of city government, and he knows that to respond to deeply seated injustice we need our many municipal agencies to work together more effectively than they do now.
Adams spent 22 years in the NYPD, rising to the level of captain. He worked all the while to reform the department from within. He knows how important it is to keep our streets safe, and from personal experience he knows that the police have too often treated people of color like him unfairly. He has pledged to take strong action to get guns off the street, and also to change the culture of a department that has condoned excessive use of force. He is our best bet for accomplishing these two perplexing, interconnected, equally essential goals.
Office workers in large corporations have survived the COVID pandemic well, and workers at essential functions have also managed. Retail outlets, restaurants, hotels and other tourist-related businesses have suffered horribly. An estimated 500,000 people remain unemployed because of COVID related layoffs. Adams proposes a two-year commercial rent tax holiday for pandemic-damaged businesses provided they meet employment goals. He also plans to slash red tape and fees for new businesses. He will funnel federal assistance to areas chronically short of capital, give special attention to minority and women-owned businesses, which have been hit especially hard this past year, and actively promote tourism.
Adams’ longer-term vision for the economy involves boosting the city’s earned income tax credit to make sure work pays for those at the low end of the economic ladder. For the same reason, he is committed to making child care affordable so parents who want to work can, and he plans to renovate city job training and placement programs to make them work better. He is prepared to invest city capital dollars in climate change projects and to ensure New York becomes a clean energy hub, and he wants to make the city the life sciences powerhouse it should be. These are goals to ensure our short-term economic recovery leads to a healthier, fairer, and more balanced economy in the long term.
His “100+ Steps Forward for NYC” is no standard campaign white paper. It is an expansive list of ideas to address our city’s many ills. What holds it together is Adams’ recognition that “government inefficiency leads to social injustice.” Agencies pursuing their individual missions make it harder than it should be for the city to achieve its overarching goal: helping New Yorkers get the support they need from local government. His idea for a “MyCity” portal — a single technology platform where residents and businesses can manage their relationships with the city rather than deal with dozens of separate agencies — is the most tangible evidence that Adams understands city government, its flaws, and its potential.
There are other candidates with much to offer. Kathryn Garcia and Shaun Donovan are proven talents running complex government agencies effectively. Ray McGuire’s career makes clear he has the management talent to do the job. Maya Wiley and Dianne Morales offer alternative visions of government. Andrew Yang features optimism and hope. (Scott Stringer, despite a long career as an elected official, suddenly seems unacceptably flawed.) Adams stands out as the candidate most likely to lead New York City out of crisis successfully.
Originally posted as an op-ed with the NY Daily News on May 10, 2021: https://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-oped-how-i-settled-on-adams-20210510-3zhh4gyncnbmjmvu4c2gdrana4-story.html