Eric Adams, African American, former police officer and anti-racist trade unionist, takes this Saturday 1is January the reins of the economic and cultural capital of the East United States. Winner in November of a competitor from the Republican Party, Curtis Sliwa, becomes, at the age of 61, the second black mayor in the history of New York, after David Dinkins (1990-1993).
A city hard hit by the pandemic
This Democratic Party centrist will have to continue the work of his predecessor Bill de Blasio, who, despite his unpopularity, steered the city of more than eight million people into the storm of the pandemic which brought it to its knees (more than 35,000 dead). Eager to show his attachment to tourism, it is from Times Square – with an audience limited to 15,000 – that he is to take the oath, shortly after the festivities that mark the start of the new year.
In June, during the Democratic primaries that pitted him against progressive candidate Maya Wiley, he proved to be a strong leader, defender of the middle and working class. The ex-cop also promised to be tough on crime – on the rise, but still far from the peaks of the 1990s.
Budget of 98 billion
Rather attached to the right wing of the Democratic Party – unlike Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York’s representative in Congress – Eric Adams has the reputation of being close to the economic circles of the Big Apple (“Big Apple”), the financial lung of the planet.
This is expected to weigh on its handling of the largest municipal budget in the United States, $98.7 billion (€85.3 billion) for the 2021-2022 financial year, dedicated in part to exiting the health crisis. Eric Adams will also have control of the largest police force in the country (NYPD, 36,000 employees). He entrusted its management to an African American, Keechant Sewell, the first woman to hold this position. He will also oversee the huge public education system, strained by inequality and Covid-19.
In addition to the end of the pandemic, Eric Adams will have to manage many sensitive issues: return to normality in Manhattan where thousands of businesses are closed and office towers remain half empty, evident social inequalities, poor housing, poor state of infrastructure, bad weather… Not to talk about the planned closure of Rikers Island, the terrible overcrowded, ultra-violent and unsanitary prison.
A pragmatist in charge of New York
Born in Brooklyn into a poor family, after flirting with crime in Queens as a teenager, he joined the police force in the mid-1980s at the age of 25 and spent twenty-two years there rising to the rank of captain. In 1995 he founded a union that fights against racism and began his political career in the Democratic Party. He was himself a New York State Senator and Brooklyn Borough President, a springboard for Mayor of New York.
The new mayor will have to continue the reform of the police, accused of having violent, racist and corrupt agents among its ranks, but without alienating his former colleagues. NYPD widely singled out for violent crackdown on Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, after the assassination of george floyd in Minneapolis. Pragmatic, Eric Adams however rejects, like Joe Biden, the slogan “Download the police” (“Cut Police Funds”) sung in 2020 by the American left.
Eric Adams has also entered less expected areas. Becoming a vegan in 2016 to cure his diabetes, the new mayor of New York, author of a cookbook, would like to convince African Americans to imitate him. He also expressed his intention to see his city become his “center of the cryptocurrency industry”.