Adams vows to ‘get stuff done’ in New York
By Emma G. Fitzsimmons and Jeffery C. Mays
After more than a decade of plotting his path to becoming mayor of New York City, Eric Adams won a decisive victory Tuesday.
Now comes the hard part.
He will start building a leadership team for a sprawling municipal bureaucracy with a nearly $100 billion budget and a potential $5 billion deficit, and must lead the city out of the pandemic at a time when some worry that the recovery is stalling.
The city is still struggling to recover, and life has not returned to normal. Broadway has reopened and nearly 80% of adults have been vaccinated, but many workers have not returned to offices in Manhattan.
Adams, a Democrat and the Brooklyn borough president, seemed to sense the challenges that await him Jan. 1, even as he held a celebratory party with entertainment and business VIPs and took a victory lap Wednesday in a series of national television interviews.
“I’m going to be a mayor that is going to be a GSD mayor: Get Stuff Done,” Adams said on MSNBC.
In a phone interview later Wednesday, he reemphasized his campaign commitment to improving public safety, citing two examples of what “getting stuff done” would look like in his first 100 days in office. He said he intended to address the crisis at the Rikers jail complex by making some immediate changes such as separating gang members, and he would bring back a plainclothes police unit that was disbanded last year.
“It’s not anti-crime, but an anti-gun unit,” he said. “It’s having well-trained officers who are going to use their body cameras so that we can see their interactions. They’re going to specifically zero in on gang and gun violence.”
Adams, who ran as a centrist, immediately struck a tone of unity in his acceptance speech Tuesday and again Wednesday. He said he had already spoken to union leaders late Tuesday about a contentious vaccine mandate for city workers and wants to work with them — and with new Republicans in the City Council.
“How do we move our city forward?” Adams said on MSNBC on Wednesday morning, adding: “I’m going to build those bridges and not blow those bridges up.”
Adams, who understands how much of a mayor’s agenda depends on Albany, from schools funding to the subway’s revival, had already showed his political savvy by having Gov. Kathy Hochul, a fellow Democrat who faces a primary challenge next year, speak at his election night party.
After years of sparring between Mayor Bill de Blasio and former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the image of a smiling Adams joining hands in the air with Hochul in victory seemed to set a different tone.
Over the next several weeks, Adams will consider how to fill his administration’s top posts. He has chosen Sheena Wright, a prominent nonprofit executive, to lead his transition team; is known to have a close inner circle of advisers; and has also been leaning on former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his allies for advice.
Adams has been focused on two key positions: police commissioner and schools chancellor. He has pledged to hire the city’s first female police commissioner to address violent crime — one of the main issues he ran on — and is considering at least two Black women: Juanita Holmes, the department’s current chief of patrol, and Carmen Best, a former police chief in Seattle, according to a person who is familiar with his thinking. For schools chancellor, Adams is believed to favor David C. Banks, president of a network of public prep schools and Wright’s partner.
Another major unknown is who will be the next City Council speaker — a powerful role in New York City government — and whether Adams will seek to influence the wide-open contest for the job. Several of his allies are running for speaker, while other candidates might clash with him on matters where the council wields power.
Adams said that he hopes the speaker is someone he can work with but that he would let the council do its job of selecting a leader among its 51 members.
“No matter who it is, I’m going to work with them,” he said.
But first, Adams will fly to Puerto Rico this week for a prominent gathering of New York elected officials and lobbyists staged by a nonprofit known as Somos. Then he will visit the Dominican Republic.
Adams, who promoted himself as a blue-collar New Yorker, was criticized by his Republican opponent, Curtis Sliwa, for spending time in Monaco and for fundraising in the Hamptons and Martha’s Vineyard. He had also faced questions during the campaign over transparency, where he lives and his financial dealings.
During his victory speech, Adams hinted at his flaws but said that he would work hard to move the city in a new direction.
“You’re going to find some blemishes,” he said. “Because I’m perfectly imperfect.”
Adams will also clearly offer a different style than de Blasio, who was not known to delight in the city’s cultural events. After his victory party Tuesday night, Adams left for an exclusive soiree at Zero Bond, a private club in downtown Manhattan, with celebrities such as comedian Chris Rock, actor Forest Whitaker and rapper Ja Rule, and business leaders such as Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, and James Dolan, owner of the New York Knicks and Madison Square Garden.
He defended his partying Wednesday, saying that he was trying to promote the city’s nightlife and calling himself a “nocturnal creature.”
Inside the club Tuesday night, Adams, who wore a snazzy blue blazer, was accompanied by his son, Jordan, and Brooklyn power broker Frank Carone. He gave a seven-minute speech and then moved around the room, taking photos with the guests. Burgers and cheese balls were served, but Adams stuck to his vegan diet when he finally sat down to eat.
“They brought him broccoli, and they served it at the table for him,” said Corey Johnson, the City Council speaker, who walked out of the event just before 1 a.m. “Everyone was being a carnivore except Eric Adams.”
A reporter from The New York Post was allowed in, but The New York Times was turned away.
“His words were very powerful,” Whitaker said as he posed for pictures on his way out of the club. “Very honest and very true.”
Adams finally emerged from the club at 1:04 a.m. as security began removing the velvet ropes outside the club. The night was not over, Adams told his team.
“We’re going over to Cipriani’s,” he said.