Adams says Lightfoot defeat serves as a 'warning sign for the country,' denies feeding GOP narrative on crime
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said Sunday that fellow Democrat Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s election defeat last week should serve as a "warning sign for the country," rejecting criticism that he is feeding into the Republican narrative on crime in addressing public safety concerns in the Big Apple.
"Public safety is a prerequisite to prosperity. Same as Chicago, like New York, and many of our big cities across America," Adams said during an appearance on CNN’s "State of the Union."
"That is why we zero focus double-digit decrease in shootings, double-digit decrease in homicides, which we have witnessed this year, particularly the month of February," he added. "All of our index crimes are low, low for the entire year. We are focused on public safety because people want to be safe. They don't feel safe. And they actually say then you're going to lose control of your city."
Lightfoot became Chicago’s first mayor in 40 years to serve just one term.
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Asked if he considered what happened to Lightfoot a warning sign for him in New York, Adams countered, "To the contrary, I think is a warning sign for the country."
"Eric Adams has been talking about public safety, not only on the campaign trail, but for the first year I showed up at crime scenes," the mayor added, referring to himself in the third person. "I knew what New York was saying, and I saw it all over the country. I think if anything, it is really stating that this is what I have been talking about. America, we have to be safe."
Adams responded to criticism from Rep. Mondaire Jones, D-N.Y., who argued the mayor was helping to feed the Republican narrative on crime and in turn, hurting Democrats ahead of 2024.
"You know the difference between a comment like that and what I say -- I listen to Americans in New York. The polls were clear. New Yorkers felt unsafe, and the numbers show that they were unsafe," Adams said. "Now, if we want to ignore what the everyday public stated, then that's up to them. I'm on the subways. I walk the streets. I speak to everyday, working-class people."
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"And they were concerned about safety. We zeroed in on that unprecedented historic numbers of felony arrests, removal of guns on our streets, close in homicide cases. We have a recidivism problem in New York, and far too many people, about 2000 people who are repeatedly… catch, release, repeat in crimes. If we don't take them off our streets, they're going to continue to prey on innocent people."
Earlier in the interview, Adams defended what some considered a controversial policy to involuntarily commit the homeless mentally ill who could not care for their own basic needs. The mayor said about 4,000 homeless people were brought in for care, while about 1,000 remain in the subways.
His focus is now shifting to young people with mental health and substance issues, as Adams said his administration is working with the governor to open 8,000 new units of permanent housing with wraparound services. He estimated the cost of the mental health initiative, which will also include fentanyl testing strips and telemedicine, at about $20 million.
Asked about comments he made at an interfaith breakfast about guns unfortunately replacing prayer in public schools, the mayor defended the remarks, saying "faith is who I am."
"Government should not interfere with religion. Religious should not interfere with government," Adams said when challenged on the separation of church and state. "That can't happen, and it should never happen. But my faith is how I carry out the practices that I do in a policy such as helping people who are homeless, such as making sure that we show compassion in what we do in our city. Government should never be a religion. Religion should never be in government. And I hope I'm very clear on that."