No NYC mayor has resigned in decades. But here’s what would happen if they did.

Most recent mayoral administrations have been investigated for corruption, but the New York City line of succession hasn’t come into play.

New York City Hall

New York City Hall Douglas Sacha/Getty Images

From Koch to Dinkins to Bloomberg to de Blasio, every mayoral administration over the past 45 years has endured a corruption investigation, and the Eric Adams administration recently joined the ranks. Over the years, few mayors under investigation have resigned: Jimmy Walker, mayor from 1926 to 1932 and part of the corrupt Tammany Hall group. And he wasn’t even indicted. In 1950, William O’Dwyer resigned amid a police corruption scandal.

Yet despite the ease at which mayors appear to shake off these investigations, some federal prosecutors believe the Adams investigation is a particularly aggressive one. On Nov. 2, the FBI searched Adams’ chief fundraiser Brianna Suggs’ home, and they seized some of the mayor’s devices days later. The FBI is investigating whether Adams’ 2021 campaign conspired with the Turkish government and a Brooklyn construction company in exchange for foreign money, engaging in a straw donor scheme. A straw donor scheme centers on the act of illegally making campaign contributions under someone else’s name.

Adams’ fundraising was also previously involved in a straw donor scandal, where two brothers who own a Queens construction company pled guilty in October to a conspiracy charge for a straw donor scheme that contributed to public matching funds for Eric Adams’ 2021 campaign. 

No one, including Adams, has been indicted on any federal charges in connection to the probe. 

When asked if he would resign, Adams said “you're all the way downfield.” And while he might be right, many New Yorkers are wondering what would happen in the event of a mayor’s resignation. Well, next in line are two of his greatest critics. 

According to the city charter, the mayoral order of succession is the city public advocate (currently Jumaane Williams), then the comptroller (currently Brad Lander). The public advocate would take over as mayor before a new mayor is elected through a special election. The comptroller would only assume the position if the mayor and public advocate seats are simultaneously vacant.

While acting as mayor, the official who temporarily assumes the role cannot appoint or remove others from office, and is required to wait 9 days after the resignation to sign, approve or disapprove any local law or resolution in most cases. 

Assuming the mayor resigned within the first three years of their term, the acting mayor would have three days to set the date for the special election.