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New York City Mayor Eric Adams opened his administration on Saturday by telling residents they would bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic and fix longstanding issues like crime-ridden communities.
"Our government has been dysfunctional for far too long and it created its own crisis long before COVID -- whether it was crime-ridden communities, poor schools, economic inequality, or racial injustice," said Adams.
"Our problems have been normalized for generations, while New York's government struggled to match the energy and innovation of New Yorkers. That changes today."
Adams was sworn in shortly after the ball dropped in Times Square to celebrate the beginning of 2022.
The 61-year-old Democrat faces the immense challenge of pulling the city out of the pandemic, taking office as the city is grappling with record numbers of COVID-19 cases driven by the omicron variant. He plans to keep in place many of the policies of outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio, including vaccine mandates that are among the strictest in the nation.
"With a better city government and a laser focus on taming COVID, turning our economy around and lowering crime, we can add glory to more New York stories," he said.
"But to do this, we must also put down the weapons of rhetoric and reach for results. The ideological wars of our recent political past are more costly now than ever as we face such serious challenges," Adams said. "These fights divide us by forcing us to make false choices rather than working together on practical solutions."
He went on to touch on the testy debate over police reform, which has amplified amid a string of high-profile police encounters in recent years.
"Some will continue to say that we must choose between public safety and human rights. But we can't have both. That is why I am going to put more resources into stopping violent crime while I work with Commissioner Sewell to bring reform to our police department," Adams said.
He added that "some would say that we must choose between shutting down our city and endangering New Yorkers with COVID. I say no to that as well."
Adams, the former Brooklyn borough president, has struck a more business-friendly, moderate stance than his predecessor but describes himself as a practical and progressive mayor who will "get stuff done." He’s the city’s second Black mayor after David Dinkins, who served from 1990 to 1993, and the 110th mayor of New York City.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.