Wednesday June 23rd, 2021 1:24AM

Crime leads voter concerns as NYC mayoral primary approaches

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

NEW YORK (AP) — Fear of crime is back as a political issue in New York City. For the first time in years it could be a prime factor in who voters pick as their next mayor.

Early voting begins Saturday in the city's party primaries. Ballots are being cast as the city is emerging, brimming with hope, after a year in pandemic lockdown, but also amid an unsettling rise in shootings.

The violence is still well short of the historic highs of the 1990s, or even in the New York of the early 2000s. But it has forced the leading Democratic candidates to balance talk of police reform with promises not to let New York backslide to its long-gone days as a crime capitol.

“No one is coming to New York, in our multibillion-dollar tourism industry, if you have 3-year-old children shot in Times Square,” Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said at a recent debate, referring to a May 8 shooting in which a 4-year-old girl and two adult women were wounded by stray bullets.

Adams, a former police captain who also co-founded a leadership group for Black officers, has risen to the top of most polls as issues of crime and policing have dominated recent mayoral debates.

The race remains tight, though, with 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang, former city sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia, city Comptroller Scott Stringer and civil rights attorney Maya Wiley the top contenders in a field of 13 candidates on the Democratic ballot.

The final day of voting is June 22, with the top Democrat in overwhelmingly Democratic New York City highly likely to win the November general election and succeed the term-limited Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The Republican primary features Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels anti-crime group, versus Fernando Mateo, a restaurant owner and advocate for taxi drivers.

The Times Square shooting and other high-profile crimes like last weekend's fatal shooting of a 10-year-old boy in Queens have sparked fears of a city under siege. “Stop the Bloodshed,” screamed a recent front page of the New York Post, which warned of surrendering streets “to homelessness, filth, crime and guns” in an editorial endorsing Adams.

The reality is more nuanced.

Many of the most common types of crime in the city, including robberies, burglaries and grand larcenies, remain near historic lows. Through the first five months of 2021, the total number of major crimes measured by the police department has been at its lowest level since comparable statistics became available in the 1990s.

But since the spring of 2020 the number of shootings has soared.

Through June 6, there were 181 homicides in New York City, up from 121 in the same period in 2019, an increase of 50%. That's the worst start to a year since 2011.

At least 687 people were wounded or killed by gunfire through June 6. That's not historically bad. More than 2,400 people were shot during the same period in 1993. But it is the highest number for a winter and early spring since 2000.

A plurality of voters surveyed in a Spectrum News NY1/Ipsos poll released this week chose “crime or violence” as the biggest problem facing New York, with both racial injustice and police reform also in the top 10.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who has known most of the Democratic mayoral candidates for years, said crime is a big issue in Black communities and the progressive candidates should address it more forthrightly.

“You know, two weeks after I did the eulogy at George Floyd’s funeral I did the eulogy for a 1-year-old kid in Brooklyn killed by a stray bullet in a gang fight,” Sharpton said, referring to Davell Gardner, shot while sitting in his stroller last summer. “So it is not true that those of us that want police reform do not also at the same time want to deal with crime. And I think that the progressive candidates need to be more out on that.”

Maria Forbes, president of the Clay Avenue Tenants’ Association in the Bronx, said crime has risen in her neighborhood during the pandemic and she has taken taxis in order to avoid the subway.

“I do not feel safe getting on the train,” Forbes said.

But Forbes, like a lot of New Yorkers, also doesn't single out crime or any one issue as the most pressing. Housing and education are also big issues, she said.

“You have minimum wage people who need housing and there’s six of them in a two-bedroom," Forbes said.

The candidates differ widely in their approaches to crime.

Wiley, who is competing with Stringer and former nonprofit executive Dianne Morales for the votes of the most liberal of New Yorkers, would cut the police budget by $1 billion annually “and invest those funds directly into the communities most impacted by gun violence,” according to her platform.

A Wiley campaign ad shows police driving into a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters last year. She says in the ad that it's “time the NYPD sees us as people who deserve to breathe,” a reference to the deaths of Eric Garner and George Floyd.

Stringer says he would cut at least $1 billion over four years through measures such as transferring mental health response to non-police crisis teams and reducing police overtime.

Garcia has not called for cutting the police budget, but says officers' minimum age should be increased from 21 to 25 and new recruits should be required to live in the city.

Yang backs a police residency requirement as well as beefed up oversight of the department, but rejects calls to defund the police.

"The truth is that New York City cannot afford to defund the police,” he warned.

Adams, who spent 22 years in the New York Police Department, says he was victimized by police brutality as a teenager and joined the force to reform it from within.

A group Adams founded called 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care advocated against racial profiling and for recruitment of more officers of color.

While New York City mayoral races are often unpredictable, this primary is especially hard to predict because it will be the first to use ranked choice voting, with voters ranking up to five candidates.

Turnout, usually low in mayoral primaries, will also be a factor.

“The question is which issues are going to be the most important to the voters that turn up on primary day,” said Susan Kang, a political scientist at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Kang said crime isn’t the main issue she hears about knocking on doors for a City Council candidate she’s supporting in Queens.

“People talk to me about all kinds of things like property tax issues, street parking, public transportation,” Kang said. “No one says to me, ‘but what is this person going to do about crime?’”

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, AP Elections, General Election News
© Copyright 2021
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Crime leads voter concerns as NYC mayoral primary approaches
The Democratic primary race for New York City mayor is nearing the finish line with a surge in shootings pushing public safety to the top of some voters' concerns
1:00AM ( 14 minutes ago )
Lucky number: Biden is 13th US president set to meet queen
Joe Biden will become the 13th American president to meet Queen Elizabeth II
12:48AM ( 25 minutes ago )
Schembechler son, players say Michigan coach knew of abuse
One of late University of Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler’s sons and two of his former players have described in detail how they were molested by the team’s longtime doctor and how Schembechler turned a blind eye when they told him about it
10:58PM ( 2 hours ago )
U.S. News
Photos show Chinese rover on dusty, rocky Martian surface
The dusty, rocky Martian surface and a Chinese rover and lander bearing small national flags were seen in photos the rover took on the red planet
12:58AM ( 15 minutes ago )
Olympic, professional boxing champ Shields wins MMA debut
Claressa Shields won her MMA debut with a third round TKO victory over Brittney Elkin
12:55AM ( 19 minutes ago )
China says US revoking of China apps ban a 'positive step'
China’s Ministry of Commerce has said a U_S_ move to revoke Trump administration’s executive orders intended to ban apps like TikTok and WeChat was a “positive step.”
12:40AM ( 33 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Sales pitch summer? Dems aim to showcase virus relief effort
Democrats have a sales job of their own this summer
8:25AM ( 16 hours ago )
AP Exclusive: State bar investigating Texas attorney general
The Texas bar association has opened an investigation into whether Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s failed efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election amounted to professional misconduct
9:37PM ( 1 day ago )
US drops Trump order targeting TikTok, plans its own review
The White House has dropped Trump-era executive orders that attempted to ban the popular apps TikTok and WeChat and will conduct its own review aimed at identifying national security risks with software applications tied to China
5:43PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Elections
McAuliffe win sets up Virginia clash with outsider Youngkin
Democrat Terry McAuliffe has handily won his party’s nomination in his quest for a return to the governor's mansion in Virginia
6:20AM ( 1 day ago )
Early states' GOP opposes Nevada as 1st presidential primary
Republicans in the four early presidential nominating states are jointly opposing a Democratic push in Nevada to make the Western state the first to hold a primary
12:38PM ( 2 days ago )
Elise Stefanik, No. 3 House GOP member, announces pregnancy
U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik has announced that she is expecting her first child
12:58PM ( 4 days ago )
General Election News
Lucky number: Biden is 13th US president set to meet queen
Joe Biden will become the 13th American president to meet Queen Elizabeth II
12:48AM ( 25 minutes ago )
Schembechler son, players say Michigan coach knew of abuse
One of late University of Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler’s sons and two of his former players have described in detail how they were molested by the team’s longtime doctor and how Schembechler turned a blind eye when they told him about it
10:58PM ( 2 hours ago )
Governor tours Arizona fires, calls for special session
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has called a special session of the Legislature to boost wildfire funding as two large wildfires burn in south-central Arizona
8:17PM ( 4 hours ago )
Small Minneapolis event eyes Klobuchar to help stop Line 3
About 100 people gathered at a Minneapolis park before marching to Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s downtown office to promote shutting down reconstruction an aging oil pipeline in northern Minnesota
7:58PM ( 5 hours ago )
Fight over Canadian oil rages on after pipeline's demise
The Keystone XL is dead after a 12-year attempt to build the oil pipeline
7:17PM ( 5 hours ago )