Last Tuesday night, Adams released his first campaign ad, a four-minute video titled, “Rise Up,” that details the candidate’s background and highlights his vision for New York City.
The following afternoon, he officially launched his campaign in a virtual announcement, during which he described the crises facing the city, from the COVID-19 pandemic to economic downturn caused by shutdowns. Adams blamed them on “dysfunctional government” and called for urgent action.
“The future we face is full of monumental challenges,” he said. “Now is the time to turn our pain into purpose together.”
Born in Brooklyn and raised in South Jamaica, Adams was one of six children. His mother cleaned houses to make ends meet, but his family struggled financially.
In the ad, Adams said he used to carry a garbage bag full of clothing to school because he was afraid his family would be evicted for not paying the rent.
“When we came home, we didn’t know if we would have food on the table or an eviction notice,” he said.
When he was 15 years old, Adams and his brother “fell into trouble” and were arrested and brought to the 103rd Precinct. He said a police officer beat and kicked them.
Years later, however, Adams joined the NYPD, where he was elevated to the rank of captain over a 22-year career. He later co-founded the group 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care to reform the NYPD to be safer and fairer.
“I became a police officer to change the system from the inside,” he said at the virtual announcement. “Not an easy task, but I believed it was possible.”
Adams was elected to the State Senate in 2006, where he served for seven years. Since 2013, he has served as borough president.
“I have seen what works and what doesn’t in New York,” he said. “It’s time to move all of our city into the 21st century. We will not leave anyone behind.”
The mayoral candidate called for fixing government by making it more efficient. Inefficiencies lead to inequalities, Adams said, which lead to injustice.
Lack of a quality education, for example, leads to incarceration, the borough president said. Lack of health care leads to chronic diseases, and lack of investments in communities leads to high unemployment.
“We can’t continue to run this city the way we have, we can’t return to the crime and grime of the past,” Adams said. “My son and your children won’t grow up in the city I grew up in. We need more than ideology, we need action.”
Adams said he will release more initiatives in the coming weeks, but called for clean, safe communities, as well as law enforcement that protects New Yorkers but also respects their civil rights.
“This city should allow all New Yorkers, no matter their income, ethnicity or beliefs, to be who they were meant to be,” he added. “That’s the promise of New York City.”
Adams is part of a crowded mayoral field of nearly 30 candidates, including Comptroller Scott Stringer, attorney and former de Blasio counsel Maya Wiley, Citi executive Raymond McGuire, Councilman Carlos Menchaca, former HUD secretary Shaun Donovan, former Sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia, and former Veterans Affairs commissioner Loree Sutton.
According to the latest campaign finance filings, Adams has raised more than $2.5 million for his war chest, trailing only Stringer so far.
At his virtual campaign launch, Adams received endorsements from several current and former elected officials, including former Brooklyn congressman Ed Towns and newly elected Bushwick councilwoman Darma Diaz.
Southeast Queens councilman I. Daneek Miller also threw his support behind Adams, and praised him for demonstrating effective leadership and a commitment to reforming policing and city government.
“We’re at a time when leadership is absolutely critical and pivotal,” Miller said. “I’ve watched Eric demonstrate his leadership. Even under the most difficult circumstances, he has those qualities.”
Another endorsement came from Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo of Brooklyn, who recalls meeting Adams over 25 years ago. Adams was still an NYPD officer then, and Cumbo was working on creating her own museum.
Cumbo said when her district needed personal protective equipment after COVID-19 struck, Adams provided hand sanitizers and face masks in her neighborhoods. She said his level of experience, involvement and relationships with local communities make him the right choice for mayor.
“We have to elect someone with experience, we can’t elect people who are learning the job,” she said. “Eric Adams is obsessed with New York City. He is the man for the job.”