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NYC's next mayor (probably) may not be as much of a Democrat as voters thought

(AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Even though there are still some court challenges to be heard regarding the New York City mayoral primary election last month, the general consensus seems to be that Democratic Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams will end up winning as was originally projected. And if so, that virtually assures him the job as the next mayor of the Big Apple since Republicans are outnumbered by a more than four to one margin in the city, and the GOP couldn’t find a candidate more serious than Curtis Sliwa to run anyway. But now that Adams is finding the time to give interviews to the city’s various media outlets, such as this report from the New York Times, progressives in Gotham may be wondering exactly who it is that they’re putting into office.

While Bill de Blasio is said to have privately endorsed Adams as the best person to carry on his legacy, the plans that Adams is laying out this week sound like a rather abrupt change of direction. Some are even daring to use “the M-word” to describe him. (Moderate!) The more liberal voters really shouldn’t act all that surprised. It was no secret that Adams used to be a cop and until switching parties, was once a registered Republican.

Adams is currently making it clear what his priorities will be. First and foremost, he’s telling reporters that he will focus on “safety, safety, safety.” He wants the streets and subways to be safe again. And that doesn’t happen without restoring the strength of the police. He’s already said that he plans on bringing back the plainclothes violent crime unit that was disbanded under Bill de Blasio. He’s also promising to bring the Metro police at least back to their former force levels, or possibly even higher.

He undoubtedly further angered liberal Democrats when he said this week that the city’s new bail laws allowing most criminals to be immediately released may be adding to the city’s mounting crime problems. (Ya think?)

But it’s not just on questions of law and order that Adams is sounding more like a conservative. His plans in terms of education almost sound downright Republicanesque. He’s a supporter of charter schools and he opposed the elimination of placement testing for gifted students.

Privately, Mr. de Blasio supported Mr. Adams in the competitive primary, believing that he was the person best suited to carry on Mr. de Blasio’s progressive legacy, and if Mr. Adams defeats the Republican nominee, Curtis Sliwa, an abrupt change in the city’s direction is unlikely.

But in some ways, Mr. Adams has staked out positions on issues like affordable housing, transportation and education that suggest a shift from Mr. de Blasio’s approach…

On education, Mr. Adams is viewed as friendly toward charter schools and he does not want to get rid of the specialized admissions test that has kept many Black and Latino students out of the city’s elite high schools, a departure from Mr. de Blasio’s stance. He has also proposed opening schools year-round and expanding the universal prekindergarten program by offering reduced-cost child care for children under 3.

How much Adams can actually accomplish will depend heavily on how much support he has on the City Council. A lot of new members were recently elected so their track records aren’t entirely clear. Some ran on platforms of taming the violence in the streets while others were vocal supporters of defunding the police. Without at least a reasonable level of support, very little may change.

No matter what happens, however, I find some of these signs encouraging. New York City is in desperate need of being saved. I don’t know if Eric Adams is the man to do it or not, but I’m sure of one thing. He couldn’t possibly be any worse for New York than Bill de Blasio has been.