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Democrat Eric Adams elected next mayor of New York City


You can list off a lot that's notable about the next mayor of New York. Democrat Eric Adams is a former police captain and former Republican who will be the second African American and apparently first vegan mayor in the city's history. Adams will take office on January 1, having handily defeated his Republican opponent on Tuesday. Mayor-elect Adams joins us now.

Welcome to the show, Mr. Adams.

ERIC ADAMS: Thank you so much for having me on with you.

KURTZLEBEN: Of course. All right, let's jump right in with one of the top issues for New York voters - law enforcement. Back in the Democratic primary season, you were more moderate in your calls for police reform than were some of your party rivals. How do you balance curbing police misconduct with bringing down crime?

ADAMS: Well, I think it's imperative that as a city and a country, we understand that public safety and justice - they are the prerequisite to prosperity. And being progressive is having safe streets. People wanted to define me as moderate, but no, I think that progressive is being practical. And when you go to those communities that are hardest-hit, they are Black, Brown and poor communities. And so I'm going to demand that my police officers are responsive to justice and not heavy-handed, but I'm also going to ensure that we're not living in crime-filled communities.

KURTZLEBEN: On that note, in 2018, you were quoted as saying you were, quote, "extremely conservative on crime." Is that still the case? And if so, what would that look like when you're in office?

ADAMS: Yes, I am. I'm conservative on public safety, you know? And I'm clear that when you see 13-year-old children in our schools stabbed in libraries; a woman was shot while walking down the block with her baby in the carriage - when I use the term conservative, it's meaning I have zero tolerance for abusive and criminal and violent behavior. So I don't believe people who discharge guns on Monday should be out of jail on Tuesday, the next day. That's not acceptable. But you can do that without being abusive. I testified in federal court to end stop and frisk during the mid-'90s, and so I know what we need to stop the abusiveness of law enforcement but, at the same time, to get the justice and safety that we deserve.

KURTZLEBEN: Now, you've raised some eyebrows during your political career. You once said you'd forego your security detail as mayor. You sometimes carry your own gun. You held what was called a rat summit years ago, and you've promoted a trap that would eradicate rats by drowning them. Will all of those ideas be a part of your time as mayor?

ADAMS: Yes, they will be.


ADAMS: And when I talk about - if you knock on doors and speak to residents in the city, you know what they say? We're tired of these darn rats. And I'm going to reintroduce the device that I used at - once at Pilot Projects. We have a real rodent problem, and those in economically challenging communities, they're receiving the brunt of it.

KURTZLEBEN: Well, and you've also said you would take your first three paychecks as mayor in bitcoin. Why is that?

ADAMS: Sending a message. It's sending a signal of - we are living in a city that used to be the Empire State. Now we destroy empires. We're too bureaucratic, too expensive and too difficult to do business in. So what is Eric Adams saying? Let's move away from a city with a culture of what we can't do. And so it's crucial that I want all of the new innovations and technology to come here - cybersecurity, life science, self-driving cars, drone development. We're going to really push the envelope, and we're not going to be afraid to fail.

KURTZLEBEN: All right. Finally, here, you're not easily classifiable politically. I've seen you characterized as a, quote, "progressive moderate," as a conservative. What sort of leadership can New Yorkers expect from city hall with you as mayor?

ADAMS: I'm a New Yorker. You can't classify New Yorkers. One day we wake up and feel one way, and we feel another way. What they're going to see - they're going to get a person that comes in the spirit of everyday New Yorkers and the complexity of what it is to be in a city like New York. And this is going to be an exciting four years for all New Yorkers. We're going to believe again.

KURTZLEBEN: I see - a unique mayor for a unique place.

ADAMS: (Laughter) That's right.

KURTZLEBEN: That's New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams. Thank you so much for your time.

ADAMS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.