New York’s business leaders hopeful they have an ally in new mayor, Eric Adams

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New York City mayoral election

NEW YORK – Leaders from some of New York City’s biggest businesses voiced hope that mayor-elect Eric Adams would bring a friendlier tone to City Hall.

Democrat Eric Adams won the largest U.S. city’s mayoral race on Tuesday with promises to boost public safety, advocate for working-class residents and work with big business to help the economy recover from the devastation of COVID-19 shutdowns.

His approach to the business community – courting executives and speaking at a major gathering of hedge funds – stands in contrast to that of Mayor Bill de Blasio, a fellow Democrat who has often seemed at odds with the private sector.

“Let’s hit reset. We understand we did not have a good relationship,” Adams, 61, told CNBC in an interview on Wednesday.

Some of Wall Street’s most prominent investors supported Adams with millions of dollars through the Strong Leadership NYC Super PAC, a political action committee whose donors include billionaires Paul Tudor Jones, Steve Cohen and Ken Griffin.

A spokesman for Jones declined to comment. Cohen and Griffin did not respond to requests for comment.

Adams, who takes office in January, said he has met with executives who had never sat down with the current mayor.

“We call ourselves the Empire State. How don’t we engage with those who have the empires here? The resources, the expertise, all of that information can be used to help people move out of institutional poverty.”

De Blasio had openly distanced himself from parts of the business community, often avoiding events with business leaders and frequently criticizing them in speeches.

Jessica Lappin, president of the Alliance for Downtown New York, said businesses look forward to working with Adams on public safety, sanitation and economic development.

“It will be a breath of fresh air to have a mayor who understands the link between income inequality, social justice, and creating jobs in our city,” Lappin said.

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Adams has said he draws on his background as a former police captain and a Black man who has experienced racism when working to address issues like systemic poverty.

He said he is a practical progressive and acknowledged in the interview with CNBC that roughly half of the city’s taxes come from real estate.

The Real Estate Board of New York said it shared Adams’ goals of ensuring safe communities, revitalizing the economy and building a more equitable city.

“We congratulate Eric Adams on his successful campaign,” said James Whelan, president of REBNY, a real estate lobby.

New York City suffers from a low return-to-office rate compared to other U.S. cities, which has hurt restaurants and other services and slashed investment in Manhattan properties.

Unemployment in New York City was 8.9% in September, or more than double 14 other New York state metro areas, according to the latest monthly figures from the New York State Department of Labor.

As Brooklyn borough president since 2014, Adams has helped turn the borough into a hub for technology start-ups. Adams said he hopes to enlist the city’s tech companies in providing city-funded internships to local residents.

Jim Neumann, CIO of alternatives advisory firm Sussex Partners, said the mayor’s tone presented a “refreshing … pro-business, pro-quality of life” tone.

(Reporting by Matt Scuffham, Elizabeth Dilts Marshall, Herbert Lash and Maiya Keidan; Editing by Howard Goller)