New York City will effectively pick its next mayor in the coming days, ending a tumultuous election race marred by allegations of sexual misconduct, by campaign staff launching a protest against their own candidate and by accusations according to which at least one of the mayoral candidates does not actually live in the city.
The winner of Tuesday’s Democratic primary, given the city’s left-wing political leanings, will almost certainly win the actual election in November and immediately be tasked with leading New York in its darkest time in decades.
America’s largest city is still recovering from the deaths of more than 30,000 people from the coronavirus, many during a heartbreaking two-month period in early 2020. It is also engaged in a heated debate over the rebuilding the pandemic in a way that tackles long-standing inequality issues.
A lack of affordable housing crisis, exposed during Covid-19, looms over the city, as an election season that began with calls for partial funding from the New York Police Department has pivoted in recent weeks, so that a spike in shootings has turned the debate into the opposite direction and propels a former black police officer, Eric Adams, to the top of the polls.
After eight years of Bill de Blasio, elected progressive mayor but whose tenure has frequently disappointed the left and right wings of the Democratic Party, signs are showing that New Yorkers are ready to swing to the center.
But Adams, said to be the second black man to be mayor of New York City, and fellow centrist leaders Kathryn Garcia and Andrew Yang, were also aided by the dramatic implosion of two of the most outspoken left-wing candidates. the last two months.
Many supporters ditched New York Comptroller Scott Stringer after two women accused him of sexual misconduct, while supporters of Dianne Morales, a former nonprofit executive, were dismayed when most of his Campaign staff led an angry protest outside his office in May, accusing their candidate of denigration of unions and inaction in the face of allegations of racism.
The absence of a serious Republican candidate has added to the certainty that it will be the winner of the Democratic primary who moves into Gracie Mansion, the official residence of the mayor of New York, next January.
Despite this added importance of the impending poll, early voting has so far been very low in a city and country that could suffer from electoral exhaustion.
Only 32,032 people voted in the first two days they were eligible, which, according to New York magazine, represents less than 1% of the city’s 3.7 million registered Democrats and 566,000 registered Republicans.
However, this is the first election for the city’s mayor to have an early vote, and candidates hope most voters will turn out to the city’s 1,107 polling stations that day.
Polls so far suggest those voters, who are able to rank up to five candidates for the first time in a New York mayoral election, are struggling to make up their minds. Yang, a tech entrepreneur who fielded a whimsical bid for president in 2020, led the polls for weeks before being overtaken by Adams and Garcia, a former New York sanitation commissioner who was endorsed by the New York Times.
Maya Wiley, a civil rights lawyer who portrays herself as a progressive, however, recovered progressive backers lost by Stringer and Morales and rose to second place in a poll last week, while another poll showed Yang , in particular, was losing support. .
Wiley, like Garcia, would be New York’s first female mayor in history, a moment that struck home when she voted – for herself – on Monday.
“Seeing my name on a ballot is very difficult to describe” Wiley a dit on Twitter. ” It is very moving. And I think of all the little girls I’ve met this year, who looked me in the eye and saw each other. I ranked # 1 for them.
For Adams, becoming the frontrunner was not without its problems. In early June, Politico reported that there was “conflicting information” that Adams, the current Brooklyn Borough President, actually resides in neighboring New Jersey, where he is a co-owner of the Brooklyn Borough. ‘a house with his partner.
This led to the bizarre scene of Adams walking around what he said was his Brooklyn ground floor apartment.
As Adams showed reporters his “unassuming little bedroom” and “unassuming little bathroom,” however, Internet detectives Note that a line of sneakers in what Adams said were matching shoes to his bedroom that his adult son wore in Instagram photos, while others noted that the Brooklyn apartment refrigerator was different from refrigerators that Adams had previously shown in photos on Twitter.
Adams then released the receipts for his EZpass – an electronic tag that automatically bills all tolls incurred on bridges and tunnels – which he said proved that if he visited New Jersey it was never more than a few hours at a time.
Yang, who himself came under fire earlier this year after it emerged he had moved his family out of town as Covid-19 struck, had no qualms about getting into the matter.
“I want to reflect on the weirdness and the weirdness of the current situation in this race, where Eric is literally trying to convince New Yorkers where he lives and that he lives in this basement,” Yang said during ‘a debate last week.
A more unsavory backdrop for the two-man’s campaigns, and a reality check for those who see New York City as a progressive spark, are the millions of dollars the groups backing Adams and Yang have received from big. donors who normally save their money for Republican candidates.
One bright spot for many has been the introduction of ranked choice voting for the first time in New York City, although the rollout has not been without problems. Some black political leaders criticized the system, suggesting voters of color were less likely to receive adequate information about how ranked choice works and less likely to engage in candidate ranking.
In a recent poll, 74% of white voters said they plan to choose more than one candidate, but only half of black and Hispanic voters said they would do the same, a particularly disappointing statistic in a race where four of the top eight applicants are people of color.
Climate change, meanwhile, has been largely absent from the televised Democratic debates, a glaring oversight for a coastal town that has an average elevation of 33 feet – some areas are much lower – and was decimated by the tidal wave. tide from Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Instead, over the past few weeks, crime has become a key issue. According to the New York Police Department’s public database, there were 490 shootings in the city between January 1 and May 16 of this year, the highest number since 2002, when there were 146 murders, a sharp rise between 2019 and 2020, and an equivalent rise by other major cities in the United States.
This figure is a far cry from the dark days of the 80s and 90s, when some years saw more than 2,000 people killed, but it was enough to dominate the discussion.
Last summer, as tens of thousands of people attended Black Lives Matter’s anti-racism protests in New York City, many candidates appeared to want to cut the NYPD’s $ 6 billion budget, but in recent months, some have run the other way, with Yang recently. calling for a “recruiting campaign” to hire more police officers.
Unless Wiley, who stuck to his plan to take $ 1 billion out of the police budget, can achieve a victory, an election that started with great hope for progressives is likely to end in disappointment. .
But with New York City facing problems on a scale not seen in a generation, a job once dubbed “America’s second toughest job” is likely to live up to its name – no matter what. the manager.