A New Mayor For New York

In one glaring aspect he summed his city up.

New York City.

Penthouses and pent up energy. Buildings reaching into the clouds, and subways that flood when those clouds unload.

Not that this guy was giving it all that much consideration. He was asleep on the sidewalk. Unlike many of the homeless he lacked a shopping cart stacked with plastic bags. He lacked just about everything, even shoes.

But he had a big stogie in his mouth, locked in place as he slumbered on this West Side avenue. Thankfully, the cigar, that enduring symbol of success, was unlit.

Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter

Sign up today to get daily, up-to-date news and views from Irish America.

You don't have to walk far on the streets of New York these days to notice the homeless. They are everywhere.

You don't have to dig too deeply into the news reports to be informed that crime rates are rising.

You don't have to stare too far into the sky to realize that the days of architectural imagination and aesthetics have gone the way of meaningful newsstands; you know, the ones with actual newspapers and magazines along with the gum and lottery tickets.

The sky is dominated by newly-erected cubes. The inhabitants of the top floors of these glass and steel monstrosities are as street level New York as aliens looking down from another galaxy.

And amid all this, a mayoral election pitting a guy who seems to have arrived via time machine from the 1980s, that being Curtis Sliwa, and a guy who is a relative newcomer to the city's grand stage, Eric Adams.

Both Sliwa, the Republican candidate for mayor, and Adams, the Democrat, hail from Brooklyn. Both are aiming for an office nailed into the asphalt of Lower Manhattan.

Both know the streets, Sliwa by way of his Guardian Angels, Adams by dint of his time in the NYPD. This street-level view of things was evident in a fiery debate the two had on Tuesday, October 26, the last face to face encounter before voting day.

Either candidate will have to face many challenges in the event of winning, not least the lingering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has delivered a mighty blow to the city, its economy, its civic and social society.

In a way it hardly seems to matter which party each candidate seems to represent. New York City so often defies party labels and what you expect to come along with them. Voters cross party lines as easily as they cross the traffic-choked streets.

Being mayor requires a degree of political savvy, more than a degree of political flexibility, and no small amount of luck.

Neither candidate is what you might call a long haul career politician. Rather, they are individuals seeking a noticeable career in politics. Yes, Adams is Brooklyn Borough President and was a state senator, and Sliwa has been dabbling in politics for years. But it's the red beret and NYPD badge that are the dominant images in this contest. 

Be that as it may, this race between relative political novices, ironically perhaps, requires more than a novice response from voters.

Who wins on November 2 matters, and matters greatly because this is no ordinary time for the Big Apple.

It matters to the cigar chomping guy asleep on the street, who could just as easily have been slumbering in an unpaved alley in the time of Peter Quinn's classic "Banished Children of Eve." It matters to the citizens staring upwards, wondering who in the hell signs off on architectural eyesores. It matters to those with their eyes staring straight ahead, on the streets, and in the subways.

So who of the two candidates is the safer bet? 

The belief of this page is that it is Eric Adams.

That belief is rooted not just in what he is pledging to do for New York City and its eight million plus inhabitants, but indeed what he has promised to do with regard to the peace and political process in Northern Ireland. 

Earlier this year Adams answered a series of questions posed by the Echo and related to the current and evolving situation in Ireland and in Anglo-Irish relations, lately strained to the extreme by the standoff over the Irish Sea Protocol.

There has been a proud tradition of African American support for the cause of Ireland, from former Commerce Secretary Ron Brown to New York State Comptroller Carl McCall, and we believe Adams will build on their legacy.

However, it’s his experience as a borough president, a state senator and in particular as a police officer for over 20 years which makes Adams, in our eyes, the candidate most qualified to be mayor at this particular time.

Irish America and the NYPD enjoy a storied relationship and most of our readers will find themselves nodding in agreement when Adams says that, rather than defund or disarm the police, we should tackle racism, guarantee just treatment for all, and make the NYPD even better.

Most of all, we like the fact that Adams is a fighter for, make no mistake about it, this will be a battle a day as New York rebuilds and faces into the problems that it presently faces, those rooted in Covid-19, and those that are not.

So, Eric Adams for Mayor of New York City.