Leading New York City Progressive, Mulling 2025 Challenge To Eric Adams, To Blast Mayor’s Budget Cuts

Leading New York City Progressive, Mulling 2025 Challenge To Eric Adams, To Blast Mayor’s Budget Cuts

Brad lander. Editorial credit: lev radin / Shutterstock.com

By Madina Toure | Politico

NEW YORK — New York City Comptroller Brad Lander is joining an eleventh-hour push to thwart unpopular cuts to the city’s preschool program as he inches closer to challenging Mayor Eric Adams’ reelection bid next year.

Lander, a progressive Democrat occupying a citywide office, will rally alongside fellow politicians, the city teachers union and parents denied a preschool seat Wednesday morning. In doing so, he is going after the centrist Democratic mayor on one of his chief vulnerabilities: the rising cost of living in New York City.

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“As you talk to people about what are the things they’re thinking about, affordability broadly. But housing and child care are at the top of the list, are what are on families’ minds and what they’re anxious about,” Lander told POLITICO.

He is expected to announce plans to run in July, and Wednesday’s rally outside the Department of Education’s Lower Manhattan headquarters gives him an opportunity to elevate his advocacy on an issue likely to be critical in next year’s primary.

Adams has steadily eroded parts of the city’s prekindergarten initiative — the signature achievement of his predecessor, Bill de Blasio. He has blamed his decisions on de Blasio’s reliance on dwindling federal stimulus dollars and what he describes as mismanagement of the logistics of the program.

Lander is now joining a bid to reverse $170 million in cuts to the early childhood education program days before the municipal budget is due. This issue remains a sticking point between Adams and the City Council.

The comptroller isn’t the only Adams rival taking on this issue.

In recent months, Brooklyn State Sen. Zellnor Myrie and former Comptroller Scott Stringer, two Democrats weighing primary challenges to Adams, have been capitalizing on voter dissatisfaction with the mayor’s fiscal approach.

“New Yorkers deserve leadership that will make our city more livable and more affordable — not harmful and unnecessary budget cuts,” Myrie wrote in an email to supporters late Tuesday afternoon. “That’s why I am exploring a run for mayor, and it’s why I’m hoping for your support today.”

Stringer wrote in a fundraising plea in May, “When I’m mayor, we won’t be cutting our kids and shortchanging our families. We will fund pre-k, 3k, and after-school. But I need your help.”

United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew, who sometimes butts heads with Adams, endorsed Stringer in 2021 and even urged union members to not rank Adams on their ballots.

Lander, who won a competitive primary for an open seat in 2021, has emerged as a measured critic of Adams. The mayor once mocked him as “the loudest person in the city.”

Adams, the city’s second Black mayor, has a strong base of multiracial, working-class voters in his corner. But he’s become vulnerable, and Lander is popular with voters who weren’t with Adams in the first place.

The pre-K cuts could further threaten his political standing. New Yorkers United for Child Care, a coalition of current and would-be parents — which is behind the Wednesday demonstration— and left-leaning politicians, are building a case against his reelection.

“I have not made any decisions yet … but there’s no doubt this is a critical and pressing issue for families in the city,” Lander said in the interview.

Adams, who has attributed unfilled preschool seats to mismanagement by de Blasio, on Monday said the city has given families access to 42,000 spots for 3-year-olds. City Hall previously committed over $500 million to protect initiatives funded by federal stimulus dollars, including a 3-K expansion.

“It is mind-boggling to me that people are blaming us for the fiasco of the 3-K, pre-K,” he said at a press conference in the Bronx. “We inherited a mess.”

On Tuesday, he dismissed concerns that the city won’t finalize its annual budget on time, saying, “I’m the pilot, co-pilot is [City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams]. We’re gonna land the plane.”

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