For most of 2021, the race for the city’s second most powerful position was a confusing mess that few in the real estate industry would get into without pissing off the eventual winner.
Up to eight council members ran for speakers. By Monday, December 13, however, most had dropped out and had pledged their support to Adrienne Adams, a Democratic council member from southeast Queens and a former local council chairman in the area who was rarely named a front runner and had none initial support from Eric Adams, then the new mayor.
Adams, 61, quickly emerged as a consensus candidate for most of the 51-member councilor, as well as organized labor – especially construction and community workers – and for the leaders of the county’s Democratic Party, who played a pivotal role in determining the outcome Races played. At the end of the week, her only rival, Queens councilor Francisco Moya, conceded and the spokesperson was hers.
“She was more of a local person and not a kind of politician trying to do the right thing,” said a Queens political source familiar with Adams’ thought process. “She’s a little surprised that she made it in the end and thinks, ‘I won, didn’t I?'”
Real estate leaders were relieved with the result. The council’s left flank has grown in membership in recent years, and industry leaders feared a progressive candidate could thwart Mayor Adams’ agenda while jeopardizing the city’s rebuilding. Adrienne Adams was considered less ideological and more pragmatic than other candidates.
“We share their goals of supporting a strong and equitable economic recovery, creating good jobs and increasing the production of much-needed housing, including affordable housing,” said Jim Whelan, President of the Real Estate Board of New York, in a Explanation. “We are committed to working closely with her and the city council to drive data-driven, results-driven policies that drive the city’s economic recovery.”
She also remains in the best grace of the mayor, even if she was not his first choice, perhaps because they have known each other since visiting Bayside High School and have remained friendly. He tweeted his support on December 17th that she would be the “best choice to move our city council forward,” and the two leaders Visited their former turf just over a week before they Appointed on January 1st.
Spokesman Adams is likely to argue with Mayor Adams over the budget and priorities that need to be addressed first as the city heads for another winter of rising COVID-19 rates and closings. But she will lead a historic, mostly female council, which could lead to new politics and a different culture in city government.
“There used to be a brother culture at City Hall, but we’ll see another wave of all women and men that Adams strengthens,” said a former Queens official of the new spokesman. “I think we’ll see that a better form of leadership emerges.”
A native of Hollis, Queens, Adrienne Adams graduated from Spelman College, a private, historically black, women’s humanities college in Atlanta, and began training childcare workers. She also worked as a manager and marketer for several telecommunications companies before working primarily with executives as a corporate human resources trainer.
Politics would come later. In 2009, Adams began volunteering with Queens Community Board 12, which includes downtown Jamaica and six other neighborhoods in southeast Queens. She was the Chair of the Ministry of Education and represented the board of directors at citywide educational events and political meetings of the Ministry of Education.
Three years later she was elected chairman of the board, where she served for five years. During that time, she developed a close relationship with Queens Democratic Counties, Joe Crowley and Gregory Meeks, the latter who succeeded Crowley in 2019. The party’s leaders raised funds and helped them in an unsuccessful attempt to oust Queens Sen. James Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primary. When the Queens Democrat Council seat Ruben Wills vacated following his 2017 conviction for fraud and theft, Adams secured the support of Crowley and Meeks and stormed to victory.
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, who has known Adams for more than a decade, said they formed coalitions and put stable leadership in one of the city’s more difficult local councils because of its diverse constituencies.
“She has been able to balance the needs of the entire community, and doing that and running for city council is not easy,” said Richards. âShe doesn’t need any on-the-job training. She understands nuances and that will be important. “
While on the council, Adams chaired the public safety committee and chaired a controversial hearing in October about the failure of the New York Policeâs Special Victims Division to investigate the rape investigation.
She has also earned a reputation as a good listener and fair arbitrator in complicated land use disputes. Their support in 2021 for the controversial New York Blood Center research tower provided cover to other members to support the plan, despite the neighborhood city council’s opposition. When her former community council rejected a senior housing project proposed last year, she consulted both sides before coming to a decision to support the proposal.
“It doesn’t necessarily want to win a popularity contest, but rather serves the voters for whom it was installed here.” [serve]”Said Richards. “At the end of the day, she made a decision to improve the lives of her constituents and deal with the community’s premises and apartments.”
Adams will seek to use her experience in the corporate world and local government to manage the various centers of power within the town hall.
So far, Adams has signaled that it will focus on stepping up testing to contain COVID-19, improving police management while ensuring police have enough resources to combat gun violence to help the city’s economic recovery accelerate and address inequalities in public schools.
Adams is also likely to use her new position to establish a number of priorities for the outskirts. It promised to help taxi drivers drowning in debt from pirated copies and to expand free legal services for immigrants.
It has also campaigned with the state to grant Genting Group’s Resorts World a full casino license that would allow live card games at the South Ozone Park gaming facility.
“Resorts World has made a huge contribution to the New York economy by creating jobs for local residents and stimulating economic development in the borough of Queens,” Adams said in a letter to the state gambling commission New York Post reported.
And Adams promised to take action to update the basement apartments – a priority for affordable housing advocates, even before severe flooding from the remains of Hurricane Ida killed 16 people
“New York City has been grappling with an affordability crisis for decades – one made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Adams said in a statement to the Commercial Observer. “My hope is to rethink processes to ensure that we are building truly affordable housing in communities where residents are at risk of displacement.”
However, adapting the basement units to the code presents several challenges. If landlords have to spend money adding drainage systems and creating new exits, they could raise rents. A pilot program that offers landlords financial support and easier regulation has cut the budget so that fewer than 10 property owners participated, WNYC reported.
Still, real estate managers are optimistic that Adams will bring their openness to development and sustainability, which has been sharpened on the outskirts, to the rest of the city.
“For us, it’s about how to focus on things to bring the city back safely, improve the streetscape, support small businesses and not put certain businesses at a disadvantage compared to others,” said a real estate source. “We hope that she will advance the first agenda ideas in such a way that this is demonstrated.”
Most importantly, however, Adams is facing the fourth wave of the pandemic in a city that has broken records for positive cases.
Some other challenges then arise. She has to negotiate with Mayor Adams over the city budget, which has skyrocketed under the de Blasio government. Prior to taking office, Mayor Adams’ school chancellor David Banks promised to cut the education department’s budget, but the political cost of cutting programs and closing schools could fall on council members, who will be back in front of the electorate in 18 months .
The main hurdle for Speaker Adams will be to maintain the independence of the council while working with the mayor on important issues. But her constituents on the council, especially those on her left, could force Adams to face the mayor or risk a mutiny. Even before they take their places Members clashed with the then-elected mayor over his support for solitary confinement on Rikers Island and forced the spokeswoman at the time to explain her rejection of punitive segregation or solitary confinement in NY1.
“She needs to come to terms with different groups and develop a policy with a city administration that she may even have to conflict with in order to survive politically,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a policy advisor who works with several unions. “It must be very agile.”