NEW YORK — New York City’s new mayor, Eric Adams, rode the subway to City Hall for his first day on the job, hours after being sworn into office Saturday in a Times Square ceremony as the nation’s largest city rang in the new year.
During his New Year’s Day commute, the former New York City police captain chatted with reporters and New Yorkers on the train and even called 911 to report a fight after witnessing two men tussling near the subway station.
Adams, 61, faces the immense challenge of pulling the city out of the pandemic, taking office as the city is grappling with record numbers of COVID-19 cases driven by the omicron variant.
As confetti continued to drift across Times Square, Adams recited his oath of office. Associate Justice Sylvia O. Hinds-Radix of the state Supreme Court’s appellate division swore Adams in as he placed one hand on a family Bible and his other held a photograph of his mother, Dorothy, who died in 2020.
He made no remarks nor took questions from reporters, but appeared on “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest” shortly after being sworn in.
He told Seacrest he had a few parties to attend but that he would “be up early in the morning, working for the city of New York.”
Hours later, Adams walked from his Brooklyn brownstone to ride the subway to City Hall, accompanied by a throng of reporters.
While waiting for his train, Adams saw two men fighting on the sidewalk below the train platform, with a third man trying to intervene.
The new mayor called 911 to report “an assault in progress.” The fight ended and two of the men left by the time two police patrol cars arrived. Officers spoke to the remaining man but stayed in their car, and Adams told reporters he would have investigated more had he been the officer on the scene.
On New Year’s Eve, shortly before he took the oath, Adams appeared briefly on the main stage in Times Square to affirm the city’s resiliency.
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“Even in the midst of COVID, in the midst of everything that we’re going through, this is a country where hope and opportunities is always, ever present,” he said earlier in the night.
“It’s just great when New York shows the entire country of how we come back,” he said. “We showed the entire globe what we’re made of. We’re unbelievable. This is an unbelievable city and, trust me, we’re ready for a major comeback because this is New York.”
Adams, the former Brooklyn borough president, has struck a more business-friendly, moderate stance than his predecessor but describes himself as a practical and progressive mayor who will “get stuff done.” He’s the city’s second Black mayor, after David Dinkins, who served from 1990 to 1993, and the 110th mayor of New York City.
He held his first cabinet meeting Saturday morning and planned to give a speech at noon. Saturday afternoon, he was scheduled to visit a police precinct in Queens where he was beaten by police officers when he was a teenager.
While promising to be a man of action in the mayor’s office, Adams is at times an unconventional politician who is expected to put his own stamp on the role.
Adams said this week that he plans to keep in place many of the policies of outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio, including vaccine mandates that are among the strictest in the nation.
The city’s municipal workforce is required to be vaccinated, as is anyone trying to dine indoors, see a show, workout at a gym or attend a conference. But New York City has also newly required employees in the private sector to get their shots, the most sweeping mandate of any state or big city and a policy Adams said he will preserve.
He’s also committed to keeping schools open and avoiding any further shutdowns in the city of 8.8 million.
Even without a mandated shutdown, the city is grappling with de facto closures because of widespread COVID-19 infections.
Several subway lines were suspended because positive test results among transit workers left too few staffers to run regular trains. Some entertainment performances have been canceled, and restaurants and bars are crunched as workers test positive.
Adams said he and advisers are studying whether to expand vaccine mandates and plan to distribute face masks and rapid tests, as well as introduce a color-coded system alerting New Yorkers to the current threat level.
Associated Press writer Bobby Caina Calvan and Associated Press photographer Seth Wenig contributed to this report.
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