Eric Adams (New York, 60 years old) likes to remember his modest origins. The fourth of six children born to a married couple of a butcher and a cleaner, he grew up in the working-class neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens, two of the city’s five boroughs, and had a run-in with police as a teenager when he and one of his brothers were beaten by the officers in an incident that he relates to the color of their skin; with the fact of being black and, therefore, a habitual suspect before any representative of the forces of order.
But Adams reversed the situation, studied law while working endless jobs to pay for his career, and became a policeman – ultimately a department captain – and later a politician. In November, the second black mayor of the city with the most millionaires per square meter in the world, no less than a million, will be elected in all probability. It is not a bad finishing touch for the life trajectory of the neighborhood boy without expectations to end up as the ruler of a city with so much power.
Adams has been given the victory in the Democratic primaries to the mayor’s office by his former neighbors, the inhabitants of the working-class neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens, also the Latinos and African Americans of the Bronx, in addition to the strong support of the unions that represent the workers blue collar, those in factories and workshops and, today, services devastated by the pandemic, such as the hotel industry. Manhattan, the Big Apple, the epicenter of finances and excesses – also of bloody inequality – is not his fiefdom, since he voted en masse for his rival Kathryn Garcia, the favorite technocrat of the establishment, who came second in the race, just 8,000 votes away. “A historic, diverse coalition of the five boroughs led by working-class New Yorkers has led us to victory,” Adams recalled Tuesday.
The second black mayor after David N. Dinkins (1990-1993) will have a newly approved record budget, 99,000 million dollars (about 83,400 million euros) – including 14,000 million in federal aid -, to underpin the economic recovery after the pandemic and face entrenched challenges, such as unequal access to housing in a market with impossible prices. They seem like primary objectives, and they are, but in Adams’s case they are subordinated to another priority: restoring law and order in the face of the worrying increase in shootings and homicides on the streets, with a disproportionate incidence in black and Latino neighborhoods. “I grew up poor in Brooklyn and Queens. I wore a bulletproof vest [como policía] to provide security for my neighbors, “he recalled this week on Twitter. After surrendering the service weapon, he keeps the license and admits that he has one.
During the campaign, Adams promised to improve the provision of social services, such as the quality of school menus offered to underprivileged students, or to strengthen support networks to prevent young people from joining one of the many gangs. to which the authorities attribute the increase in armed violence, a phenomenon so worrying that it has merited the declaration of an emergency by the state governor. But, unlike other co-religionists who advocate diverting funds from the police budget to social programs, Adams does not plan to undermine his resources and to recover special units to combat organized crime. More than a councilor, many see him, and have voted for him, as a chief police officer for a city that has not yet forgotten the decades of violence at the end of the last century.
After 22 years in the New York Police Department, during which he was activism for inclusion and racial diversity in its ranks, Adams made the leap into politics. He was elected senator for the State of New York in 2006 and president of the borough of Brooklyn, where he lives, in 2014. Of all the candidates who attended the Democratic primaries, he is the most moderate profile, something that offers a reading in National key: “If the Democratic Party does not recognize what we have done in New York, it is going to have problems in the mid-term elections [noviembre de 2022], and in the presidential [de 2024]”He said on the day of the vote, June 22.
The result of New York can be extrapolated but with nuances, since it is a traditionally Democratic city, with a percentage of six to one against the Republicans. However, of the 3.7 million registered Democratic voters in the city, only 26% voted, four points more than in 2013. The future comptroller of the city was also elected in the primaries – a representative of the most progressive faction. , which will have the key to the budget – and a Municipal Council with a record number of councilors.
In a video published this week after declaring himself the winner of the primaries, an institutional Adams also presents himself as the future of the party: “I have said it already, and I will continue saying it: I am the face of the Democratic Party.” Progressive experiments seem to have hit the bone in New York, for now. Adams has triumphed as a representative of “African American, Asian, Caribbean, Latino New Yorkers who just want to live in a safe city to raise their children.” The mosaic symbol that is New York: diversity as a driving force, and a certain promise of racial harmony in a city that is also experiencing a spike in hate crime.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.