Eric Adams

Some of the most contentious fights between Eric Adams and Adrienne Adams

While the New York City mayor and City Council speaker started off on good terms, the relationship has grown more fractured of late.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams and City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams have butted heads more often in recent weeks.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams and City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams have butted heads more often in recent weeks. Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

In 2022, back at the beginning of their terms, New York City Mayor Eric Adams and City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams seemed to share a lot. A brand of moderate Democratic politics. A high school alma mater and childhood in Southeast Queens. A last name, though they’re not related. But recently, the two leaders have diverged on several policy and budget fights, pitting the cost-cutting, more conservative-minded mayor against the leader of the increasingly progressive legislative branch. While the two Adamses have mostly maintained a publicly cordial personal relationship, here are some of their more contentious fights.

Round 1

Issue: Speaker’s race 

The speaker of the City Council is supposed to be elected by the members of the council. That’s rarely how it plays out in reality, however, with labor unions and other interested parties – including the mayor of New York City –  rallying votes for their preferred candidates.

Adrienne’s objective: Become City Council speaker

Eric’s objective: Get ally Council Member Francisco Moya elected speaker

Outcome: Mayor Adams’ support of Moya fell flat, and the council rallied around Adrienne Adams, who was elected the first Black speaker of the City Council.

Round 2

Issue: CityFHEPS expansion

Though not the mayor’s first time wielding his veto power against this City Council, the two sides of City Hall had a protracted fight in 2023 over a package of bills expanding access to city rental vouchers. 

Adrienne’s objective: Usher through bills that would expand access to CityFHEPS rental vouchers

Eric’s objective: Squash those bills, predicting a steep cost to implement them

Outcome: TBD. The legislation passed the City Council, Mayor Adams vetoed the bills and the council promptly voted to override his veto. But, the administration refused to fully implement them, which led to a lawsuit from the City Council that is ongoing.

Round 3

Issue: Criminal justice bills

The City Council passed bills limiting the use of solitary confinement and requiring more reporting in low-level police investigative encounters.

Adrienne’s objective: Advance an early priority of the City Council – limiting the use of solitary confinement in city jails – and achieve more police transparency

Eric’s objective: Preserve more flexibility for correction officers to discipline inmates and keep police officers free from bureaucratic reporting requirements

Outcome: Council passes criminal justice bills, mayor vetoes them and the council overrides the vetoes. Unlike the CityFHEPS veto fight, the administration has so far said that it will implement the laws.

Round 4

Issue: Expanding council oversight of mayoral appointments

Speaker Adams has introduced legislation that would require the council’s advice and consent for 21 additional commissioner-level positions. It could expand the scrutiny that the council has given the administration over Randy Mastro’s potential nomination for corporation counsel.

Adrienne’s objective: Give the council more power to oversee – and potentially deny – commissioner-level appointments

Eric’s objective: Preserve his executive authority to appoint whomever he likes to commissioner positions at most city agencies

Outcome: TBD. Speaker Adams’ recently introduced legislation, if passed, would need to be approved by voters in a referendum. But Mayor Adams’ announcement of a new Charter Revision Commission – just days after the speaker’s legislation was reported – could stymie the speaker’s efforts, as any proposals from that commission would also need voter approval and would supersede the speaker’s legislation on the November ballot.