When New Yorkers cast their ballots on Tuesday, a wide range of issues, from public safety to education, were top of mind. But some said that the most significant thing about the present moment was its potential to herald history.
New York has had 109 mayors; Eric Adams, the Democratic nominee, would only be the second black man to take over the helm of the city if he wins.
For Djene Keita, 30, who is black, it felt like voting for Mr. Adams like casting a vote for his young son’s future. “Just having someone to look up to and be inspired by would be great,” said Keita, who is from Harlem.
Mark Godfrey, 65, said Mr. Adams’ rise felt similarly personal, a sign of “subtle changes happening in the United States” in racialism and representation.
Mr. Godfrey, a resident of Ozone Park in Queens who said he was independent, said Mr. Adam’s identity as a black man and his experiences as a police officer and victim of police brutality meant he “understands what it means to be profiled.”
Mr. Godfrey said he hoped these experiences would give Mr. Adams a unique and valuable perspective if he joins.
David N. Dinkins, the city’s first black mayor, was elected to a single term in 1989 and died in 2020. He has been remembered as a mentor who inspired other black leaders to run.
Some voters like Esmirna Flores, 38, remembered seeing Mr. Dinkins as mayor as they cast their ballots Tuesday. The chance to elect another black mayor was “absolutely amazing,” Ms. said. Flores, who is Latina and lives in the Kingsbridge area of the Bronx.
“It’s time we had more black representatives, more brown people representing,” she said.
Still, others like Mable Ivory, 45, a black voter in Harlem, said they saw Mr. Adams’ storytelling potential as something positive, however, noted that it did not play a significant role in shaping their vote or forcing them to go to the polls.
There were also mixed feelings among some voters, who appreciated the possible landmark but disagreed with aspects of Mr. Adams’ platform.
Gabriel Knott, 27, called the milestone an “important step forward.” But he said he remained unsure whether Mr. Adams was the best job opportunity among the many Democrats he beat in the June primary.
“It’s really important to consider what he wants to do for the communities in New York City,” said Mr. Knott, who is from the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn. “But I think it’s still important.”