Former police captain Eric Adams easily won the race for New York mayor Tuesday, and Boston elected its first woman and Asian American to the city's top job as voters across the U.S. picked local leaders who were largely defined by their stances on police and crime.
Adams, who will become the second Black mayor of the nation's largest city, first triumphed this summer in a crowded Democratic primary after he struck a nuanced stance on law enforcement issues. His message on crime and his experience as a police officer largely insulated him from attacks from his Republican opponent Curtis Sliwa, the founder of the Guardian Angels anti-crime patrol.
He described being beaten by police officers as a teenager when he was arrested for trespassing. When he later became a cop, he was a vocal critic of the police department, advocated for Black officers and spoke out about injustices. But he did not embrace calls from some progressives to defund the police by shifting money from law enforcement to social work and other programs aimed at addressing the root causes of crime.
In Boston, Michelle Wu espoused a more liberal approach to policing and called for bigger reforms, but her history-making win came in a campaign dominated more by debates about issues such as affordable housing.
Police and crime issues came to the forefront in cities big and small after the death of George Floyd last year led to a national reckoning on racial injustice and law enforcement. The debate centered on questions of when and where police are needed — or sometimes whether they're needed at all. It also unfolded amid an increase in homicides in the wake of the pandemic.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press.