In his inaugural address Saturday, New York City's new mayor Eric Adams promised to avoid the reactionary bumbling responses to the COVID-19 pandemic that were characteristic of his predecessor, failed Democratic presidential candidate Bill de Blasio.
Without naming de Blasio, Adams nonetheless acknowledged the frustration felt by many New Yorkers regarding de Blasio's tenure, lamenting that New York City had endured "continual crises" during the last two years. Adams, who has repeatedly stated his insistence on keeping New York City's businesses and schools open during the Omicron wave, promised that "this will be our New Year's resolution: We will not be controlled by crises."
Adams — a former police officer who won nomination for the post among a crowded field of Democratic candidates — faces daunting challenges as mayor. One of the main issues that is believed to have carried Adams to victory is his belief that he would be able to solve the city's crime problem. Violent crime has skyrocketed in the last two years, with shootings in 2021 occurring at more than double the rate they did in 2019, and murders up 50% over the same time period. Other violent crimes, including felony assaults and robberies, have likewise been on the rise. In addition to other challenges, Adams faces a daunting task repairing the relationship between the mayor's office and the city's police department, which was severely strained during de Blasio's tenure, to the point that hundreds of police officers ostentatiously turned their backs on de Blasio as he attempted to deliver a eulogy for a fallen police officer in July of 2021.
In addition to crime problems, New York city has faced a more drastic economic slowdown than most of the rest of the country — again likely due, at least in part, to de Blasio's policies. A number of high profile finance and tech firms have fled the city during the pandemic, and while the rest of the country faces a crippling labor shortage, New York City faces an unemployment rate that is more than double the national average. In addition to the bevy of shuttered businesses, the city's economy has been devastated by the fact that suburbanites are simply not traveling into the city for work and spending money while they are there; a November survey indicated that less than 30% of the city's office workers had returned to their desks, and that fewer than half planned to return even by January.
Now, with positive cases rising fast in New York, Adams is promising that New York City will not return to shutdowns and will remain open. He has likewise promised that schools will reopen for in-person learning on schedule in January, in spite of protestations from teachers' unions.