Early voting begins Saturday in the city's party primaries. Ballots are being added as the city is rising, brimming with hope, after a year in pandemic lockdown, but also amid a disturbing rise in gun fires.
The violence is still well brief of the historic highs of the 1990s, or even in the New York of the early 2000s. But it has overcome the leading Democratic candidates to match talk of police reform with vows not to let New York backslide to its long-gone days as a crime capital.
"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, citing a May 8 shooting in which a 4-year-old girl and two adult women were injured by stray bullets.
Adams, a former police captain who also co-founded a leadership group for Black officers, has soared to the top of most polls as problems of crime and policing have overlooked recent mayoral debates.
The race stays close, still, 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 very feasible to win the November general election and replace the term-limited Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The Republican primary features Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels anti-crime organization, versus Fernando Mateo, a restaurant owner, and support 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 caused concerns of a city under siege. "Stop the Bloodshed," screamed a recent front page of the New York Post, which cautioned surrendering streets "to homelessness, filth, crime and guns" in an editorial supporting Adams. The reality is more nuanced.
Many of the most popular types of crime in the city, including robberies, burglaries and grand thefts, remain near historic lows. Through the first five months of 2021, the total number of major crimes calculated by the police department has been at its lowest rate since comparable statistics became available in the 1990s.