Crime is the primary drawback within the working for Mayor of New York Metropolis: NPR

Outside the emergency room entrance at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, once the epicenter of COVID-19 in New York City. Brigid Bergin / WNYC hide caption

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Brigid Bergin / WNYC

Outside the emergency room entrance at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, once the epicenter of COVID-19 in New York City.

Brigid Bergin / WNYC

Major primaries begin Saturday in New York City as voters prepare to elect a new mayor for the first time in eight years.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is out late this year on tenure restrictions and with voters voting from a crowded field of would-be successors, the issue of crime and public safety has overtaken COVID-19 as a major voter concern – which is increasing moderated and a stress test for the progressive Left of the city serves.

To date, more than 33,000 city dwellers have died from COVID-19, more than any other major city in the United States. But as virus rates drop and vaccination rates rise, voters in New York City increasingly say crime and public safety are their top concerns, according to a recent poll.

The number of shootings has increased 77% since the start of the year, including a number of recent high profile incidents. Last weekend, a gunman targeted a house in Queens, killing a 10-year-old boy. A few weeks earlier, a four-year-old was injured by stray bullets on a Saturday afternoon in Times Square.

“If the city can’t stop the shootings in Times Square, what does that say about what is going on in black and brown communities across our city where we are underinvesting and we know gun violence is higher?” said Andrew Yang, the former Democratic presidential candidate who is now a leading Democratic mayoral candidate.

He’s going head to head with Eric Adams, a former New York City police captain who currently serves as the president of the Brooklyn borough.

Both are against cuts in the NYPD. Her more moderate stance on policing is shared by Kathryn Garcia, most recently the city’s sanitary officer, endorsed by both the New York Times and the New York Daily News.

On her collective left is Maya Wiley, a civil rights attorney and former member of the de Blasio administration. She calls for $ 1 billion to be removed from the NYPD’s $ 6 billion budget and reinvested in communities hardest hit by gun violence.

It got a big boost last weekend when New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said the left must unite and support it. “At the end of the day we have to pull this ballot up and fill it in and I’ll put Maya number 1,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

This reference to “Number 1” was an allusion to the new ranked voting system, which will undergo its first city-wide test in this area code, allowing voters to rate up to five candidates in the order of their preference. The voters accepted the new system through a referendum in 2019.

As the candidates pitch, 79-year-old voter Jose Martinez said he wanted someone focused on curbing gun violence. “The police should be tougher. Everyone here has a gun.”

He was among voters who passed Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, the epicenter of the city’s COVID-19 pandemic, on Monday to tell NPR of their concerns about police issues.

At the height of the protests against police brutality last summer, some reform activists made a major push to slash the NYPD’s budget. These cuts were never fully implemented, but the debate on police funding remains very active.

“I think it was a very unfortunate phrase to ‘debilitate the police’. I would be very against that, “said Nancy Davis, who moved to the city from Ohio 50 years ago.” I love to see them, and I think most New Yorkers do too, “she added.

“I think we should take some pressure off the police,” said Mohamed Rahmen, 19. “I have the feeling that a lot of people are too radical with this, as if they want to cut the NYPD budget in half or something,” he said. “I’m not really for that.”

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