Eric Adams, the Democratic mayoral nominee, said that New York will “no longer be anti-business,” drawing a contrast with the current mayor, Bill de Blasio.
Katie Glueck and
After nearly eight years of a strained and periodically hostile relationship between the mayor of New York City and its business community, the city’s likely next mayor on Monday delivered a clear message: He wants a reset.
“New York will no longer be anti-business,” declared Eric Adams, the Democratic mayoral nominee who is almost certain to win November’s election, in a speech at a business conference in Manhattan. “This is going to be a place where we welcome business and not turn into the dysfunctional city that we have been for so many years.”
In many ways, Mr. Adams and Mayor Bill de Blasio have found political common ground, and Mr. de Blasio was thought to favor Mr. Adams during this year’s primary. But Mr. Adams’s brief remarks on Monday underscored what may be one of the most consequential differences between the de Blasio administration and an Adams mayoralty: a significant shift, in tone and approach, when it comes to dealing with the city’s big-business community.
Mr. de Blasio has, at times, fostered close ties to the real estate sector, but he based his first mayoral campaign on addressing the city’s widening inequity, saying that New York had become a “tale of two cities.” He has also downplayed the need to bring back wealthy New Yorkers who fled during the pandemic.
Mr. Adams also ran on a message of combating inequality and was embraced by key labor unions. But his main focus was on combating crime, which also happened to be a primary concern of the city’s business elite.
He quickly adopted a far warmer approach to engaging the business community than Mr. de Blasio did, becoming a favorite of New York’s donor class — with whom he has spent much of the summer — while earning skepticism from the left. Publicly and privately, he has pledged to travel to Florida to bring erstwhile New Yorkers home.
Mr. Adams’s advisers and allies see a shift in tone as a matter of policy at some levels: If he builds stronger relationships with business leaders, it might pave the way for more public-private partnerships. If he engages wary business leaders in discussions about what is needed to make the environment more hospitable to growth, they may then be more inclined to stay in the city, or to expand.
In his remarks on Monday, Mr. Adams ticked through a list of priorities around improving quality of life, public safety and innovation in the city, while asking business leaders to be partners as New York pursues economic recovery amid the pandemic.
Mr. Adams, who appears especially interested in boosting the life sciences, green jobs and start-ups, may mix more easily with business leaders than Mr. de Blasio has, in part because he shares a number of their key priorities.
He has been more supportive of charter schools than several of his Democratic mayoral rivals, and more so than Mr. de Blasio; he also has close ties to real estate.
And Mr. Adams has said that public safety must be at the center of the economic recovery efforts — echoing a theme that more than 150 business leaders underscored in a letter to Mr. de Blasio last fall, when they demanded that he take more decisive action to address crime and other quality-of-life issues that they said were jeopardizing the city’s economic recovery.
Mr. Adams’s remarks came at the SALT Conference, held at the Javits Center and overseen by Anthony Scaramucci, the onetime Trump White House communications director. The schedule promised appearances from two hedge fund billionaires who were principal backers of a super PAC supporting Mr. Adams’s candidacy: Daniel S. Loeb, a prominent charter school supporter, and Steven A. Cohen, the owner of the Mets.
Mr. Scaramucci, a Wall Street veteran, donated $2,000 to Mr. Adams’s mayoral campaign. Over the weekend, former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who got on poorly with Mr. de Blasio, released a direct-to-camera video noting his support of Mr. Adams, who is facing off against Curtis Sliwa, the Republican candidate, in the general election.
“As a candidate, Eric Adams has shown ambition and political courage,” Mr. Bloomberg said in the video.
In his speech, Mr. Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, urged employers to collaborate with the city on a common job application, part of a suite of proposals aimed at boosting the city’s economy and combating unemployment and underemployment. Both the public and private sectors would be encouraged to participate.
“I’m proposing an unprecedented partnership between city employers and the city itself to make those connections and create one common application, one job application, to field all of the jobs you have available in this city,” he said. “New York wants your jobs and we want to build them.”
Mr. Adams, a former police captain, also reached for a slogan that powered his primary win — “the prerequisite to prosperity is public safety and justice” — as he argued that priorities like reducing gun violence are vital aspects of reviving the city’s economy.
And he ticked through a list of other goals, from bolstering community health centers in underserved neighborhoods and efforts to be “the center of cybersecurity” and self-driving cars, to investments in green jobs, to improving childhood nutrition and offering more affordable child care.
“Today, you choose New York,” Mr. Adams told the crowd. “And we want to choose you.”
On Monday, Mr. de Blasio was asked about Mr. Adams’s contention that New York would no longer be anti-business and “dysfunctional.”
“I’m not going to take a couple of lines out of context,” the mayor replied. “Obviously, this is a city that has done so much to work with our business community.”
Later that day, at an appearance at a Brooklyn street corner where a 3-month-old baby was killed on Saturday after a wrong-way collision sent two vehicles onto the sidewalk, Mr. Adams contended that partnerships between the private sector and government could improve safety on New York City streets.
He said New York City should accelerate the implementation of legislation that requires drivers with bad records — like the driver suspected of causing the 3-month-old’s death — to take a safety course or lose their vehicles. Funding for the bill was delayed a year by the Covid crisis.
Mr. Adams, who was joined by the mother of another child killed by a driver in the same neighborhood, vowed to make city streets safer. His comments were not that dissimilar from those made by Mr. de Blasio at a news conference eight years ago, when he vowed to end all such fatalities by 2024, via his Vision Zero program.
This year, however, the city is on track to have its highest number of traffic deaths since 2014, according to Transportation Alternatives, a group that advocates for safer streets.
But even as Mr. Adams spoke of making streets safer, a parked Police Department cruiser was blocking a bike lane at the corner where the infant was killed, and a blue car zoomed past the news conference and made an illegal turn. Mr. Adams seemed reluctant to draw as clear a distinction between himself and Mr. de Blasio as he had earlier that day.
“I’m going to be committed to resolving this issue, just as I believe when the mayor stood with those families, he was committed to do so at the same time,” Mr. Adams said, referring to Mr. de Blasio’s 2014 rollout of Vision Zero. “And that is my level of commitment.”