Even as he rejected some progressive-branded policies, Mr. Adams also embraced some ideas popular with the young, multiracial constituency that supported candidates like Ms. Wiley and Dianne Morales and their call for using strategies outside policing, like improving mental health and social services, to prevent crimes.
“We need to change the ecosystem of public safety,” he said, with layered strategies of “prevention, a long-term plan and an intervention” to deal with the current spike in crime. He made it clear that he believed that he could marry the two ideals of safety and ensuring social justice.
“America is saying, we want to have justice, and safety, and end inequality,” he said.
Mr. Adams acknowledged that that message alone was not enough to win the votes of a majority of New Yorkers; even though he held a significant lead, nearly 70 percent of voters ranked other candidates as their first choice. Still, in four of the city’s five boroughs, he collected the most in-person votes, trailing Ms. Garcia only in Manhattan.
Mr. Adams said the discrepancy showed that voters in wealthier, whiter districts saw the public safety crisis through a different lens.
“It’s unfortunate that I think a numerical minority that live, basically, they live in safe spaces, don’t understand what’s happening in this city,” Mr. Adams said.
If elected mayor, Mr. Adams will no doubt face challenges from the City Council, which is facing a complete overhaul next year: All 51 seats are up for election, and a new officeholder is guaranteed in 32 of them. The turnover is expected to shift the Council, which already favored more aggressive policing reform, even more to the left.
“It’s not going to be a repeat of the Giuliani years,” said Susan Kang, an associate professor of political science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “The City Council is not going to just say whatever you say.”