National News

Adams Brings Varied Resume in Race to Become New York’s Next Mayor

Brooklyn, N.Y., Borough President Eric Adams, a former police officer, addresses the crowd during a candlelight vigil July 11 at Grand Army Plaza in the Prospect Heights section of Brooklyn. The interfaith service was organized by the Diocese of Brooklyn. (CNS file photo)

WINDSOR TERRACE — Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, the retired cop and former state senator who won the Democratic mayoral primary, has spent most of his life working law enforcement and politics and is hoping his ability to navigate both worlds will propel him into Gracie Mansion.

In the first mayoral election featuring ranked-choice voting, Adams defeated Kathryn Garcia by a slim margin — 50.5% to 49.5%. He will now face Republican Curtis Sliwa, the founder of the Guardian Angels, in the election on Nov. 2. 

Adams is running on a platform of fighting crime and reforming the NYPD. In answering a question posed in a candidates’ questionnaire from the Diocese of Brooklyn, he wrote: “The prerequisite to prosperity is public safety.”

Adams’ office did not respond to multiple requests to be interviewed for this article.

Born in Brownsville and raised in South Jamaica, Adams underwent a life-changing event when he was arrested at age 15 and beaten while being held in a police precinct station house. After that experience, he made up his mind to become a police officer to reform the NYPD from within.

He joined the NYPD,  moved up the ranks, and ultimately became a captain. He was one of the founders of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, a group that often criticized Police Department practices. 

Adams spent 22 years as a cop before retiring in 2006 to enter politics, winning a state senate seat in a Brooklyn district taking in parts of several neighborhoods, including Brownsville, Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, and Park Slope. 

In 2013, he ran for Brooklyn borough president and won, becoming the first black person to win that office.

Three years later, Adams was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. He changed his eating habits, became a vegan, and used his office to promote health and wellness initiatives. He was an outspoken supporter of “Meatless Mondays” in the city’s public schools.

As borough president, Adams has weighed in on issues of interest to Catholics. In 2019, he signed a letter along with Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and City Councilman Justin Brannan urging Chirlane McCray, wife of Mayor Bill de Blasio, to recommend that a statue be erected honoring Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini, under the She Built NYC program McCray headed. 

Despite the fact that Mother Cabrini was the top vote-getter in a poll of New Yorkers who were asked to name women deserving of statues, the Catholic saint was not on the list issued by McCray and her group.

“If we are to use taxpayer funds for these monuments, let our choices truly reflect taxpayer voices,” Adams, Brannan, and the bishop wrote in the letter.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo later commissioned a Mother Cabrini statue in Battery Park that was unveiled in 2020.

Adams announced his candidacy for mayor on Sept. 1, 2020, and found himself in a hotly contested fight for the Democratic nomination in a crowded field.

The candidates included Garcia, the former sanitation commissioner, former de Blasio counsel Maya Wiley, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, former Citigroup CEO Raymond McGuire, former Presidential hopeful Andrew Yang, and former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan.