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Eric Adams

The Mayor’s Chief Advisor ‘Does Not Get Bullied Around’

Ingrid Lewis-Martin is a legendary and uniquely powerful force within the Adams administration.

1:08 PM EST on January 4, 2024

Ingrid Lewis-Martin sits next to the mayor and smiles.

(Jefferson Siegel / Hell Gate)

On Wednesday night, during a public spat between Mayor Eric Adams and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, the mayor's official chief advisor and friend of nearly 40 years, Ingrid Lewis-Martin, took to Twitter to defend her boss.

Lewis-Martin's position in City Hall has been covered a lot since Adams took office—she was even named one of New York Magazine's "most powerful New Yorkers."

It's worth dwelling on the relationship that Lewis-Martin has with her boss, so let's turn to the Eric Adams Table of Success for more on the mayor's chief advisor—including that time she allegedly cut off a member of Congress during a Zoom meeting from a dentist chair.

Much has been written about the near-limitless authority Ingrid Lewis-Martin has within the Adams administration, how she ruthlessly wields that authority in support of powerful and parochial interests, and how she does not care about what others think of her combative style. Allow us to add one more story to her legend.

On August 2, a group of elected officials—including a member of New York's congressional delegation—gathered for a meeting scheduled by Lewis-Martin, according to a person who attended. Lewis-Martin showed up late, Zooming in from a dentist's chair. After a few minutes of pleasantries, the aforementioned congressmember began forcefully asking for something they wanted from the City. According to the attendee, Lewis-Martin turned her camera on, cut the politician off, apologized for being at the dentist, informed them that she was going on vacation and that she'd deal with the issue when she returned, then ended the meeting. 

(The Mayor's Office has not responded to our questions about this account.)

"She does not get bullied around and that is a very useful power—when it's on your side," that source, who works in City government, told Hell Gate. 

While the mayor has credited Lewis-Martin for striking deals with labor and securing big real estate projects, the chief adviser has mostly been in the news for her behind-the-scenes battles, including torpedoing street safety projects and planned bike lanes across New York City in line with the desires of business interests and certain well-connected New Yorkers. Lewis-Martin has wide purview and little oversight except for the mayor himself ("Where the mayor needs me, I'm in it," she told City & State.) Her "penchant for overriding other officials on even minor issues" has pissed off some of her colleagues, including First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright, who reportedly asked Adams to not bring her into his administration, although both women deny this. ("Sheena and I have never had a cross word," Lewis-Martin told the New York Times. "For sources to lie and focus on some made-up fighting, as opposed to quality work being done in our office, is an insult to women and, in particular, Black women.")

A different source in City government said that Lewis-Martin, who pulls in a $251,000 annual salary at her position, "undermines the way government is supposed to work."

"Which is not, one person who’s like, 'tear up the street' or 'undo whatever,' and then makes it happen," said the source, who asked to remain anonymous to avoid reprisals. "She is not the executive, she is not the person who should be making those decisions."

Brooklyn Councilmember Lincoln Restler put this impression of her another way earlier this year: "The playbook has been written: If you don't like a project
call Ingrid and she'll kill it." 

Asked what to make of Adams giving Lewis-Martin so much power, the source replied, "I think it says that he values loyalty over everything else." (The Mayor's Office hasn't responded to our questions about these remarks either.) 

Adams and his chief adviser have known each other since 1984, when she was a middle school teacher and the mayor was a transit police officer who worked with Lewis-Martin’s husband. When Adams ran for a State Senate seat in 2006, Lewis-Martin was his campaign manager, and later his senior adviser and chief of staff. According to her, Adams had been talking about becoming the mayor since he ran for state office.

"I said, 'Eric, what the hell are you talking about? You're running for Senate. Why are you talking about: When you're mayor?'" she told the Daily News in 2021. "He stopped it a little, but every so often, he would go right back to it." She soon got on board, however, and began working with other Adams allies like Evan Thies to plan Adams's political rise. 

To read the rest of Ingrid Lewis-Martin's entry at the Table of Success, go here.

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