Eric Adams: Democrats ignored urban problems for too long

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Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, the declared winner of the Democratic primary for New York City mayor, said Wednesday he wants to fix “crevices” in the city that are reeling from crime and poor education, as the broader society celebrates economic gains that shroud those problems.

Mr. Adams said leaders in his own party ignored issues like gun violence and poor testing proficiency in parts of New York, Chicago and Atlanta while failing to strike a balance between support for law enforcement and fair policing — a path he navigated with success during the campaign.

“They’ve thrown up their hands, and we’re continuing to see the same problems in our inner cities. We need to turn it around,” Mr. Adams, a retired police captain, told CBS’ “This Morning.” “Why is it taking us so long? We’re watching these babies die year after year after year.”

Mr. Adams spoke after an updated “ranked-choice” tally showed him leading former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia by 1 percentage point, or about 8,400 votes.

Ms. Garcia and progressive Maya Wiley, who finished third, haven’t conceded but will address the results on Wednesday.

The final winner will be the favorite against GOP mayoral nominee Curtis Sliwa, an outspoken and recognizable figure who founded the Guardian Angels safety patrol group.

Mr. Adams, introduced on CBS as “Mr. Almost Mayor,” said he will focus on fixing inequalities that remain after the economic boom under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“Those inequalities are real and we cannot continue to ignore that they exist,” he said. “There’s a permanent group of people that are living in systemic poverty. You and I, we go the restaurant, we eat well, we take our Uber — but that’s not the reality for America and New York.”

He said he wants to address the drivers of poverty “upstream” instead of plucking people out of the river of poverty.

Mr. Adams said he will treat gun violence as a “public health emergency” and is still unpacking New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision Tuesday to declare a state of emergency around gun violence. The order pledges $139 million to coordinate prevention efforts as more New Yorkers die each day from guns than COVID-19.

“It’s going to allow the easy accessibility to finance and money,” Mr. Adams said.

Mr. Adams said he will support the police. But officers need to be committed to public safety, he added, even if they sometimes don’t like what politicians are doing.

“I’m going to have the finest officers. I will have their backs, but they’re going to the backs of the people of this city,” Mr. Adams said. “We’re not going to make laws that are going to be hurtful to the public and to our law enforcement officials.”

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