Sat. Jan 22nd, 2022

NEW YORK – Former Police Captain Eric Adams triumphed Tuesday to become New York’s next mayor as voters across the United States elected new city leaders from candidates largely defined by their stance on police and crime.

Adams, who will be the second black mayor in the country’s largest city, did not win until this summer in a crowded Democratic primary, after taking a nuanced stance on law enforcement issues. His message about crime and his experience as a police officer largely isolated him from attacks by his Republican opponent Curtis Sliwa, the founder of the Guardian Angels anti-crime patrol.

He described as a teenager being beaten by police officers when he was arrested for the intrusion. When he later became a police officer, he was a vocal critic of the police department, speaking for black officers and talking about injustices. But he did not embrace calls from some progressives to define the police by shifting money from law enforcement to social work and other programs aimed at addressing the root causes of crime.

Police and crime issues came to the fore in large and small cities, after George Floyd’s death last year led to a national inventory of racial injustice and law enforcement. The debate centered on questions about when and where the police are needed – or sometimes whether it is necessary at all. It also unfolded amid a rise in killings in the wake of the pandemic.

In some big cities, fears or a desire for a midway approach raised candidates who were seen as more supportive of law enforcement or who have rejected liberal calls to defuse the police. In Minneapolis, where Floyd was killed, pressure for change could raise law enforcement practices and help determine who runs the city.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, a Democrat, has defended the police department against calls to dismantle it. On Tuesday, he fights to keep his job against 16 challengers, with the most serious candidates running to his left.

Frey’s prospects may be linked to a ballot question asking voters if they want to replace the police department with a Department of Public Security. Frey is against the change, but his two biggest challengers support it.

Jacob Neiheisel, an associate professor of political science at the University of Buffalo, said that although local police departments often become a problem in mayoral races, the issue is broader and threatens more for votes after 2020.

“I think it’s really at the heart of how they think about this issue. So it fills more of the campaign environment than it has done in the past,” he said.

On the other side of New York State, the mayoral race in Buffalo India puts Walton, a Democratic socialist, in contention with incumbent Mayor Byron Brown, the city’s first black mayor and a Democrat who lost the primary to Walton this summer.

He is now running as a writing candidate with the support of law enforcement and has criticized Walton for her plans to cut $ 7.5 million from the police budget. She says the plan is aimed at addressing the root causes of crime. Brown says the move is “clearly defying the police.”

In Atlanta, rising crime and a wave of high-profile killings have many residents saying they want to balance police work and racial justice. Former Mayor Kasim Reed is seeking to return to office as a top candidate in a crowded impartial race that is likely to result in a resignation.

Reed cited the rise in crime as the motivation for his campaign for a third term. He has told voters that the low crime rate during his tenure and the hundreds of police stations he once hired make him the best choice.

City Council President Felicia Moore, a longtime critic of Reed, is another top candidate who has cited rising crime as a reason she is running. Other candidates have talked about adding more police officers and stressed the need to focus on the root causes of crime, such as affordable housing and unemployment.

In Seattle, mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell, a former city council member who has called for the hiring of more police officers to stem an increase in shootings, has criticized opponent Lorena González for supporting the police defining movement.

González, the city council president, has called for a revision of the police department, which is under federal supervision for a pattern of excessive power and evidence of biased police work.

In Boston, the competition between city council members Annissa Essaibi George and Michelle Wu means the winner will be the city’s first woman and first colored elected mayor.

The candidates, both Democrats in an impartial race, have mainly clashed on issues such as affordable housing, public education and transport. But there have also been differences between police and crime.

Wu, daughter of Taiwanese immigrants and a protégé of Liberal Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, has called for major police reforms. Before becoming a candidate, Wu joined other city council members, calling for a 10% cut in the police department’s budget.

Essaibi George, who describes himself as a Polish-Arab American, has opposed the redistribution of money and has called for the hiring of hundreds of more police officers. She was approved by former Boston Police Commissioner William Gross.

Even in Waterloo, Iowa, with a population of about 68,000, police and race have become a hotspot in the mayoral race.

Curtis Sliwa

Republican candidate for New York City Mayor Curtis Sliwa speaks during a debate with Eric Adams, Brooklyn City President and Democratic candidate for New York City Mayor in the ABC 7 studios on Tuesday, October 26, 2021 in New York. (Eduardo Munoz / Pool Photo via AP)AP

The city’s first black mayor, Quentin Hart, has been falsely portrayed by critics as an opponent of police work and has for months been subjected to vicious criticism by a political action committee called Cedar Valley Backs the Blue, which was formed by retired Waterloo police officers.

The group blew up the city’s move this year to abolish the police department’s longtime griffin logo – which looks like a KKK dragon – and sought farewell to the city’s first black police chief, a close Hart employee.

Hart’s opponent, White City Councilwoman Margaret Klein, campaigned as a supporter of police officers and won the group’s support.

Michelle L. Price of the Associated Press wrote this story.

Associated Press writers Ryan J. Foley of Iowa City, Iowa, and Steve LeBlanc of Boston contributed to this report.

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