In a recent interview, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner sat down with ABC News Correspondent Jonathan Karl to discuss the problems plaguing the nation’s four largest cities, which are all being led by Black mayors for the first time in history.
“It’s a moment for us,” Adams told Karl during an annual meeting of the countries’ mayors in Washington, D.C, per ABC News. “It’s a moment that we are now really going after those tough challenges and historical problems that we fought for many years to be in the driver’s seat.”
When asked what’s the No. 1 issue their cities are facing, Turner and Adams said “public safety,” while Bass said she’s grappling with homelessness in Los Angeles.
“In Los Angeles, without a doubt, it’s homelessness,” Bass said. “But it’s the intersection of income inequality and also public safety. And because income inequality is so severe in Los Angeles, the most extreme manifestation of that is 47,000 people [sleeping] on the streets in tents, every night, in the city.”
Adams, a former New York police officer, campaigned on fighting crime, yet his city is still struggling with major crimes, which increased by 20 percent last year.
All three mayors agreed that public safety is at the root of many issues in their cities. Turner said that “revitalizing our communities that have been underserved for a long, long time” is key to “dealing with issues of homelessness and those things that put people on the street.”
When asked, Bass addressed her stance on defunding the police, which she previously called “probably one of the worst slogans ever.”
“What I believe is that over time, especially the federal government, state, and cities have divested, defunded social services,” Bass said. “So I think when a person goes into the academy, they don’t go in to address homelessness, addiction, mental illness. And so we need to refund our communities, build out the social safety net so that people don’t fall into crime.”
Turner said the “defund the police” movement, which gained traction amid the nation’s racial reckoning following the 2020 police killing of George Floyd, got “too much play in the first place.”
“If you look at many of the cities, they were funding their police. The city of Houston never defunded its police,” Turner said. “It’s not about defunding police, it’s about investing in communities.”
During the interview, Turner, who is serving his second term in Houston, noted that while the trio’s mayoralities suggest “progress is being made,” he hopes that more Black mayors are elected “to the point where it doesn’t stand out.