What to Know
- Eric Adams is projected to win the race for New York City mayor, the Associated Press projects, topping Republican Curtis Sliwa
- Adams, the Brooklyn borough president who spent 22 years in the NYPD before going into politics, will become the 110th mayor of NYC, and just the second Black mayor in the city's history
- As mayor, Adams inherits the big challenge of bringing the city back from the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 34,500 New Yorkers, and will have to steer a city where the economy is still beset by challenges related to the pandemic
Eric Adams is projected to win the race for New York City mayor, the Associated Press projects, topping Republican Curtis Sliwa to become the second Black man to become mayor in the city's history.
New York City voters picked the city's next mayor on Tuesday, choosing to go with the Brooklyn borough president and former police captain who went into politics, over the GOP radio host and founder of the Guardian Angels.
A victory for Adams, who spent 22 years in the police department before winning a seat in the state senate, seemed all but assured after he emerged as the winner from a crowded Democratic primary this summer in a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans 7 to 1.
“Tonight, New York has chosen one of you -- one of our own. I am you. I am you," Adams told a jubilant crowd at his victory party at a hotel in his hometown borough of Brooklyn. “After years of praying and hoping and struggling and working, we are headed to City Hall.”
After he finished speaking, Adams was joined onstage by Gov. Kathy Hochul, who pledged “a whole new era of cooperation” between the state in the city, after eight years in which the former governor, Andrew Cuomo, was constantly at adds with Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“We will fight for you, not fight each other anymore,” she said.
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Carrying a photo of his late mother, Adams voted Tuesday morning in Brooklyn. He teared up as he portrayed his life as a New York story, taking him from a poor childhood to the leader of the nation's most populous city. He will follow in the footsteps of David Dinkins, the city's first Black mayor who served from 1990-1993.
Adams brings a nuanced perspective on policing and crime, drawing on his experiences as a former police captain, an officer who gained early attention for speaking critically about the department he served in, and as someone who experienced police brutality as a teen. At age 15, he said, he was beaten by police officers when he was arrested for trespassing.
He rejected progressive mantras to “defund the police” and defended the stop-and-frisk police tactic — which led to huge numbers of Black and Hispanic men being stopped by police without cause — as a useful tool that had been abused.
Adams became a transit police officer in 1984 and joined the New York Police Department when it absorbed the transit force. As a police officer, he cofounded an advocacy group, 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, which pushed for criminal justice reform and decried police brutality.
Adams retired from the police department in 2006. He then won a seat in the state Senate, representing Brooklyn. In 2013, he was elected the borough president in Brooklyn. A borough president is a partly ceremonial position, serving as a representative who coordinates among city agencies, makes appointments to boards and commissions, and can co-sponsor legislation in the New York City Council.
He promised as mayor to appoint the first female police commissioner in the city’s history. Though seen as the moderate candidate in the crowded Democratic primary, one who offered a business-friendly approach, Adams has rejected the label and maintains he is a progressive.
He is a vegan who wrote a book in 2020 about how a plant-based diet helped him with diabetes.
Adams faced questions as a candidate about his residence after Politico reported he was sleeping at his Borough Hall office often. He co-owns an apartment in Fort Lee, New Jersey, with his partner, Tracey Collins. He tried to dispel the questions during the campaign by giving reporters a tour of a basement apartment in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood that he said is his primary residence.
Sliwa, with his left arm in a sling because he was hit by a taxi on Friday, Sliwa cast his ballot during a fraught trip to his Manhattan polling place. He showed up holding a cat wrapped in a red blanket, and took various photos ops kissing its head.
There was a bit of an issue when Sliwa was told that feline — which was one of his and his wife's many rescue cats — would have to stay outside the polling location. He tangled with poll workers who, concerned about laws against electioneering in polling places, wanted him to take off a jacket emblazoned with his name.
Then Sliwa's ballot got jammed in the scanner, forcing poll workers to get someone to repair the machine as the candidate complained about the city's oft-maligned Board of Elections. He also got in a dispute with poll workers who wanted him to remove a jacket emblazoned with his name out of concerns it could violate laws against electioneering at polling places.
Sliwa ran a campaign punctuated by his penchant for stunts and his signature red beret, part of the Guardian Angels uniform. Adams frequently dismissed Sliwa as a clown and painted him as untrustworthy for having admitted he made up claims years ago about being kidnapped and of other exploits from the Guardian Angels’ patrols. Sliwa, in turn, portrayed Adams as an out-of-touch elitist who needed to spend more time in the streets with regular New Yorkers.
Sliwa said at an election night party Tuesday that he tried to call Adams to concede but couldn’t immediately reach him.
“I am pledging my support to the new Mayor Eric Adams because we’re all going to have to coalesce together in harmony and solidarity if we’re going to save this city that we love,” Sliwa said.
In his concession speech, Sliwa made it clear he wasn’t going to fade from the headlines.
“You will have Curtis Sliwa to kick around,” he vowed.
As mayor, Adams inherits the big challenge of bringing the city back from the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 34,500 New Yorkers and is still infecting hundreds every day.
He will also have to steer a city where the economy is still beset by challenges related to the pandemic. The tourism industry hasn’t come back yet. Office buildings remain partly empty, with people still working from home. Schools are trying to get children back on track after a year of distance learning.
Adams will take over on Jan. 1 after current Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is limited to two terms, leaves office. De Blasio tweeted his congratulations to Adams Tuesday night, saying that he "embodies the greatness of our city. He will be an outstanding mayor."
Polls across the five boroughs opened at 6 a.m. Tuesday and stay open until 9 p.m. The long delays in declaring a winner — like what was seen after the primaries — did not happen this time around as the formula is much simpler. Track live results here when polls close.
The final days of the campaign happened as de Blasio sparred with unions over a mandatory vaccination order for all city employees. As mayor, Adams will have to decide whether to continue, or expand, vaccine mandates put in place by de Blasio.
The New York City mayoral race is one of many local elections for municipal and county leaders being contested across the state Tuesday. They include a fierce fight in Buffalo that is a rematch between India Walton and the incumbent mayor she beat in the Democratic primary, Byron Brown. Brown refused to quit after his primary loss and has been asking voters to write his name in on their ballots.
New York voters are also voting on constitutional amendments that could make it easier to vote and establish a right to clean air and water. Learn more about the statewide ballot questions here.