Eric Adams, a former police officer who tapped into New Yorkers' anxiety over public safety as the city struggles to recover from unprecedented public health and economic crises, is projected to become New York City’s 110th mayor, according to the Associated Press.

The 61-year-old Democrat will now become only the second Black mayor in the city’s history following the late David Dinkins, a Democrat who was elected in 1989 and served only one term after losing to Rudy Guiliani.

"I am you," he told a crowd of jubilant supporters at a ballroom inside the Brooklyn Marriott, before attending a VIP party in Manhattan. "For a young man from south Jamaica Queens that grew up with all the challenges that New Yorkers face, it is not just a victory over adversity, it is a vindication of faith."

He entered the stage by walking through the center of the crowd, with his staffers pushing aside the phalanx of surprised photographers. He then dropped onto his knees before beginning his 30-minute speech that echoed his words on the campaign trail.

At one point, he was joined by Governor Kathy Hochul, an unusual expression of unity between a New York City mayor and governor. "I'm here to declare that there is a new day dawning," Hochul said, calling their upcoming relationship "a whole new way of cooperation." (The contest for governor will be decided next year, when she'll face a cadre of Brooklyn politicians, including New York Attorney General Tish James, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and potentially, current Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has been strongly hinting at a run.)

Adams takes the reins facing a staggering array of unprecedented challenges, led by an ongoing pandemic and economic uncertainty. Although the recent months have produced glimmers of normalcy, how long a full return might take is still an open question. Many office buildings are still largely empty, as large numbers of employees continue to opt for the convenience and safety of remote working. With an average of 800 cases a day, the virus is not yet in the rear-view mirror. Nearly 74% of all New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose, although that rate is expected to get a boost as children ages 5 to 11 start getting the shots this month.

Leaning on his biography as a Black teen who was beaten by police and later rose through the ranks of the NYPD, Adams staked his candidacy on improving public safety, which he frequently called the “prerequisite to prosperity” on the campaign trail. Although gun violence is showing signs of a downward trend in certain parts of the city, there have been 1,588 shooting victims this year to date—roughly double the levels of pre-pandemic years.

Basil Smikle, a political strategist who heads the public policy program at Hunter College, said Adams will be a unique leader during a unique moment in the discourse around policing. “How does a person who is someone of color run a city at a time when crime is perceived to be going up, and when there is a strong national movement to defund the police?” he asked.

As the mayor of the nation’s largest city, Smikle added, Adams will now become the standard-bearer of New York City Democratic politics and have an opportunity to shape the party moving forward—something he has already started to do by chafing at the progressive label and rejecting “fancy candidates.”

Read More: Curtis Sliwa Concedes

Despite four decades in the public eye, Sliwa, a lover of publicity stunts, props, and four-legged animals, struggled to gain any traction in a city where Democrats now outnumber Republicans nearly seven to one. The two men both agreed on increasing policing but little on anything else. Sliwa, 67, refuted every de Blasio policy, from bike lanes to mandatory vaccinations for city workers, which took effect on Monday. Adams has pledged to bike to work as mayor and said he would uphold the mayor’s vaccine rules, although he said he would have preferred negotiating with unions first.

Sliwa, who took a leave from his job as a radio host for WABC, remained a determined campaigner until the very end. On Tuesday, he arrived at an Upper West Side polling site cradling one of his cats. Poll workers instructed him to take off his red campaign jacket, a violation of electioneering rules, but the candidate refused.

Over the weekend, he showed off a broken arm, sustained after he was hit by a cab in Midtown. “I’m like a cat that has nine lives,” he told reporters. But on Tuesday, he used up his final political life—at least in this election season.

During his concession speech, Sliwa called for unity. "I am pledging support to the new mayor Eric Adams because we’re all gonna have to coalesce together in harmony and solidarity,” he said, standing by his wife, Nancy Sliwa.

A visibly emotional Adams voted in Brooklyn early Tuesday morning, carrying a framed portrait of his mother who died earlier this year. He wiped tears from his eyes as he dedicated the moment to every child “who was ever told they’d never amount to anything.”

Adams’s victory in the general election was all but a certainty in the eyes of political experts: backed by both unions and business interests, including the billionaire and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, he accumulated a war chest of $19 million, with nearly $8 million to spend on the general election.

Still, during the primary race, Adams was not the overwhelming favorite in a crowded field of eight leading candidates. Some experts have argued that he benefited from the media’s early focus on Andrew Yang, the former presidential candidate who faded in the final stretch amid heightened scrutiny and some missteps.

Despite his fundraising advantage in the primary, Adams’s margin of victory was less than 1 percent over Kathryn Garcia, the former head of the city’s sanitation department who benefited from ranked-choice voting and a campaign centered on her managerial competency. The electoral map of in-person votes showed a city fractured by class and ideology, with Adams dominating the outer boroughs, while losing more progressive and wealthier parts of the city.

“We’re going to elect a mayor who partly has a working class coalition but who got enough support among relatively conservative whites in the outer boroughs who did not defect to the Republican candidate,” said John Mollenkopf, a professor of politics and sociology at CUNY.

Hank Sheinkopf, a veteran political consultant, credited Adams’s appeal with working- and middle-class voters who saw themselves in the candidate’s stories of struggle with racism and poverty.

But he added that the race boiled down to one overriding concern for voters: “Crime was the issue. He’s an ex-cop.”

With his general election win, the Democrat, who grew up the son of a single mother who worked as a house cleaner, caps off a three-decade-long dream. Adams reportedly sought advice on how to become the city’s second Black mayor as early as the mid-1990s, when he formed a 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, a group that sought to fight racial discrimination in a still-segregated police force.

Adams, who was born in Brooklyn and raised in southeast Queens, is the first New York City native to be elected mayor since Mayor Rudy Giuliani, another Brooklyn native.

He will now extend the Democrats’ eight-year hold on City Hall, following Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was elected in 2013 with a pledge to end a “tale of two cities,” a slogan that became even more resonant during COVID. Low-income neighborhoods of color initially suffered the highest infection rates, and blue-collar essential workers were disproportionately hurt by the inability to work remotely.

Many voters at the polls acknowledged that the race for mayor seemed lopsided this year. Barbara Rose, a retired teacher on the Upper East Side who voted on the first day of early voting last week, said she had heard Adams was a “shoe-in.” Still, she didn’t want to take any chances. “That’s what drew me out,” she said.

Asked what she liked about Adams, she responded, “That he’s not the other guy.”

David Cruz contributed reporting.