Photo illustration by Johansen Peralta
Aug 2, 2021
Get to know Eric Adams, New York’s likely next mayor
In an interview recorded before the primaries, the borough president gives an overview of his career, his childhood and his beliefs
Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, is all but guaranteed to become the next mayor of New York City. In June, he won the Democratic primary in a city where registered Democrats vastly outnumber Republicans.
He claimed the nomination narrowly—by a just over 7,000 votes, or just under 1 percent of the vote—in a new ranked-choice voting format.
Adams was also the first guest on “Brooklyn Magazine: The Podcast,” recorded late last year, just as he declared his candidacy. Our conversation was deliberately not tied to the news cycle and still serves as an introduction to Adams, a former New York City police officer and state senator.
So all of that is to say that, yes, this is a repeat, but if you haven’t heard it yet, it’s still new to you! We discuss policing during the season of protests against police brutality. Adams himself joined some of the marches and commented on “the open wound of racism” in our society.
“The foundational issue still remains: the hardwiring of the police agencies in our country and city is built on the foundation of racism,” he says on the podcast. “If we’re not honest about that acknowledgment and then really rewire how we feel about the subculture of policing, we’re not going to turn it around.”
Adams, who says that he wants his legacy as borough president to be his “dirty armor,” is no stranger to conflict. He mentions in the interview that, in the 1990s, he was an advocate for ending the controversial police practice of stop-and-frisk. However, he has since walked back those criticisms and over the course of the campaign he would more stridently defend stop-and-frisk as a tactic.
In this episode, Adams also discusses the city’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which was still raging when this was recorded and, by all accounts, appears to be ticking back up now.
“If we’re not careful in our cycling out of coronavirus, we need to make sure we don’t continue to leave large volumes of people behind which we have done far too often,” he says. “The virus didn’t discriminate, but how we treated people who were susceptible to getting the virus, we discriminated.”
We also discuss his childhood growing up in 1960s Brownsville. “The Brownsville of the ‘60s was a different Brownsville,” he says. “High crime I remember during the 60s. Dr King being assassinated and Brownsville going up in flames. It was a normal day to see the heavy heroin use, the junky nodding.”
Listen to the podcast for more, but first one last clarification: Early in the interview, Adams says Brooklyn has overtaken Chicago as the third most populous city in the U.S., but the latest census numbers do not, in fact, back that up. Brooklyn has some 2.6 million inhabitants; Chicago boasts just north of 2.7 million.
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