NEW YORK, New York — On Nov. 8, the office of Mayor Eric Adams’ held a roundtable event at the Blue Room in Lower Manhattan to address recent challenges and issues facing his administration. The event touched upon the ongoing migrant crisis, the importance of fiscal transparency, and delved into the repercussions of surging crime that has plagued the city in recent months.
Emphasizing the importance of decisive leadership, Adams said, “You can’t govern by optics — you have to govern by action,” as he highlighted the need for authentic leadership that is unaffected by the fluctuating perceptions of the public.
While addressing multiple crises facing residents in the city — including the migrant crisis and a recent raid conducted by the FBI — Adams outlined the demanding nature of his role. “Every day there is a crisis,” he stated, underscoring his commitment to “really listening and understanding” the needs of residents, while making sound decisions through challenging times. With an approach to leadership rooted in presence and visibility, he said, “Leadership is about presence.”
Leading through action
Adams also reflected on his professional relationship with a constituent named Brianna, who began her career as an intern and rose to become a standout fundraiser. Taking pride in providing opportunities to minority constituents who are often overlooked, he said, “I never got when Barack Obama ran for president… the only thing I asked from him was to do more [for minority communities.] Oftentimes, I see that African Americans don’t get to play on a national scale as fundraisers.”
”She worked hard, she learned, and people who met her were really blown away by her professionalism and skill,” said Adams, as he praised Brianna and stressed the importance of building an inclusive government that offers every resident a chance to thrive and contribute to the city’s diverse cultural tapestry.
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Furthermore, Adams stressed the fiscal responsibility of his administration in light of the city’s economic strain. Opting out of attending the SxSW conference, he explained that it was “not appropriate for me to have on a flowery shirt, lying on a beach, drinking margarita” while New Yorkers face tough times and struggle to put food on the table.
On the migrant crisis
The event also touched upon the formation of a coalition with other government officials to address the problem of migrant housing. Adams called for a “national decompression strategy” to evenly distribute the responsibilities and resources among cities. He reiterated his call for federal assistance, noting that “over 50 percent of those who arrive here, we have been able to stabilize in one way or another.”
Currently grappling with a worsening migrant crisis, New York has seen an influx of asylum seekers that have put a strain on the city’s resources and infrastructure. The migrant surge has also challenged the local government’s ability to provide adequate housing, healthcare, and other essential services.
With many of the migrants being sent from other parts of the country, the situation has compounded the city’s already complex social and economic challenges, said Adams. However, his administration is seeking collaborative solutions to address the issue — including federal assistance and a national strategy to manage the situation effectively and humanely, all the while helping asylum seekers integrate into their new communities with dignity and support.
According to New York City’s Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, Williams-Isom, as of Sept. 24, there were more than 115,200 people currently under the care of city programs “including over 61,400 asylum seekers.”
“Over 118,800 asylum seekers have come through our intake system since last spring,” she said during a September briefing, adding, “We have opened 210 sites including 17 humanitarian relief centers.”
Why inclusivity matters
The event concluded on a note of inclusivity, with Adams addressing the need for greater engagement with ethnic media as a cornerstone of his office’s outreach strategy. In a city as diverse as New York, he underscored the critical role of these outlets in reaching different communities and being able to effectively communicate in other languages.
“One of the things that I saw when I came into office is the lack of access to ethnic medias,” said Adams, adding, “So we want to really allow the ethnic media to be part of the experience. Know for far too long you have not been noticed, you have been ignored, you’ve been overlooked, and we just refuse to do that in this administration.”
With reporting by Kyle Li and Anna Lin