Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is likely on his way to victory now that early voting has begun, and his supporters were excited to see their choice for mayor taking a stroll on 5th Avenue in Sunset Park on Monday.
Adams and his team were visiting the many small businesses on the block where they stopped for dairy-free pastries and cases of blueberries. But they couldn’t help but be stopped by excited fans along the way.
The tour was led by David Estrada, executive director of the Sunset Park Business Improvement District, who ushered the borough president in and out of stores like La Gran Via Bakery and Strawberry Field Grocery. Estrada says the area has high needs but is constantly overlooked by the city.
“In mostly immigrant, majority non-English speaking mom-and-pop neighborhoods like this that don’t make a lot of noise … it seems sometimes that stuff just happens to us,” Estrada said, “instead of us being a part of determining the outcome.”
Though he cannot share his opinion on Adams as a mayoral candidate, he says Adams the borough president has been consistent in his engagement with the neighborhood and its businesses.
Still, it wasn’t city government officials going door to door informing businesses that they had to close down at the start of the pandemic — it was Estrada in an orange vest communicating the government’s decisions.
“That’s the conundrum, and that’s not unique to one elected official or another. It’s city government as a whole [that] doesn’t really know how to communicate with some of the shopkeepers that we just spoke to,” Estrada said.
Adams made an attempt at communicating with them and even made a few purchases. In some intimate conversations inside the stores, while the press waited outside, he asked how long they had been open, what they made, and told them their work was important.
One of the questions Adams managed to get in between handshakes with bystanders was “What about shoplifting?”
Estrada said they haven’t dealt with the organized theft that other neighborhoods suffer from. He was concerned about a divot in the sidewalk that appeared overnight, that he and Adams looked at together. The borough president’s senior advisor Stefan Ringel told Estrada they would “follow up” on the issue.
Adams overflowed with thanks to all the business owners and bystanders, but Estrada made it clear that even good intentions from the city can fall short. In the current conversation of equity for people of color, building up communities and honoring immigrants, Estrada says, “This is the ground to do it if you want to do that.”