NYC Recovery Hinges on Safety, Says Ex-Cop in Mayoral Race

New York City mayoral candidate Eric Adams said he’s raised the most money in the race to be the city’s next mayor by embracing both small donations and big business, while pulling in funds from donors around the country who want to see the city thrive.

As he tries to stand out in a crowded Democratic field, the Brooklyn Borough President is leaning on his two decades of experience in the NYPD while campaigning to repair ties with the business community. Adams, 60 years old, brought in more than $8 million from public and private sources, according to New York City Campaign Finance Board data as of January 15. City Comptroller Scott Stringer is second, pulling in $7.8 million.

Adams said the fund-raising haul is a testament to his campaign’s on the ground work, attracting a broad base of voters from real-estate developers to cab drivers. He’s made 35,000 telephone calls and held 400 fundraisers. Restricted by what he can do during the pandemic, he said he does about 10 to 15 video calls a day, while also visiting food kitchens and community centers to hand out Covid-related equipment.

“You have this diverse group of donors from all spectrums,” Adams said during a one-hour interview with Bloomberg News reporters and editors. “I’m a United Nations candidate and it’s reflected in the money I’ve raised.”

NYC Recovery Hinges on Safety, Says Ex-Cop in Mayoral Race

Early primary polling finds him in second place behind Andrew Yang, who has made a splash in the mayor’s race, parlaying his run for the Democratic presidential nomination, and the name recognition that comes with it, into a push for city leadership. The June primary will be the first mayoral race determined by voters ranking their five top choices in order of preference. Adams sees it as a two-man battle.

“This race will come down to Andrew Yang and Eric Adams,” he said, declining to say who his second-choice on a ranked vote ballot would be.

In a Feb. 10 poll, Adams came in second with 17% in a field of eight, according to a survey in which voters were asked to name their first choice. Yang was the leading contender with 28%, according to the poll, conducted by Core Decision Analytics. three out of five respondents recognized Adams’ name in the poll, compared to 84% of respondents who had heard of Yang.

National Significance

Roughly a third of Adams’s campaign donations have come from outside the city because he’s pitching outside donors on using New York as a test case for bringing back America’s cities. “People in Chicago, Los Angeles, they’re all seeing the same things,” he said. “When New York gets it right, it will cascade throughout the country.”

Adams has more than a decade of experience in state and local government politics, serving as the first Black Brooklyn Borough President since 2013 and as a state senator for the seven years prior to that. He was a city cop for 22 years, eventually reaching the rank of captain, before entering politics.

He has expressed a willingness to embrace business, both small and large, in a way that current Mayor Bill de Blasio has not, arguing decisions like the failure to secure Amazon Inc.’s headquarters was bad for the city’s economy. Being open to business, Adams says, will be key to the city’s successful bounce back from the financial blows the pandemic has dealt it.

Efficiency is key to Adams’ approach, as he looks to roll back or simplify rules, regulations and taxes. For small businesses, he proposes tax relief, simplifying the permitting process and reducing fees. Hotels would get a property tax debt holiday and developers could see looser zoning restrictions and regulations. Adams also plans a city hiring freeze he says would save $1.5 billion.

A friendly relationship with property developers has also drawn scrutiny. Many of his opponents have declined to take donations from property developers, a move Adams calls “disingenuous” and politically convenient. Instead, he calls for embracing developers to help with the city’s recovery. The city needs to develop in the right way, by holding real estate accountable and being clear about expectations for the industry, he continued.

“Real estate is to New York as oil is to Texas,” he said. “If we take industry that pays 50% of our taxes and demonize them, then that’s not going to work.”

Reforming The Police

Adams joined the NYPD after experiencing police brutality and discrimination as a young kid. He said his experience on the force gives him an inside track on how to pass reforms to better serve residents. The city’s police force has come under intense scrutiny over its handling of protests. Numerous videos and accounts emerged of NYPD officers brutalizing and trapping peaceful protesters last summer, culminating in a lawsuit from New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Increasing diversity within the police force, allowing communities to have a say in police leadership and better training are among the immediate changes Adams is proposing for the department. He also said he would appoint the first female police commissioner, declining to say who it would be. However, he has resisted calls to defund the police, arguing instead the department could stand to save money by being more efficient and suggesting that there’s a need for more officers in some places to deal with gun crime.

“Policing is extremely complicated. If you don’t understand the agency, the agency will control you,” he said. “The mayor did not understand the complexity of the police department, and therefore I believe the police department controlled him.”

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