Unlike New York City’s outgoing first lady, Tracey Collins keeps a low profile — in fact, she was conspicuously absent during her partner Eric Adams’ mayoral campaign and Tuesday victory parties in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
And when the mayor-elect takes over City Hall next year, the unmarried couple may face some ethical challenges. Collins, 58, works for the city’s Department of Education as a school administrator, and Adams would effectively be her boss.
“We will ask for [the Conflict of Interest Board’s] guidance,” Adams’ spokesman Evan Thies told The Post.
It’s a job Collins has held since 2008, according to public documents, which also show that she took home $173,710 last year.
“She gets up at dawn to run the largest school system in the United States,” Adams, 61, wrote of his longtime girlfriend in his 2020 vegan lifestyle book, “Healthy at Last: A Plant-based Approach to Preventing and Reversing Diabetes.” He noted that Collins typically worked “12 hours a day. She never gets a break.”
According to Thies, Adams has previously said that Collins will not have a role in his administration. It’s unknown if if she will move into Gracie Mansion when the mayor-elect is sworn into office in January.
In fact, little is known about the couple’s relationship. According to public records, Collins grew up in New Orleans and lives in a high-rise two-bedroom apartment overlooking the Hudson River in Fort Lee, NJ, where Adams has said that he spends his weekends. Adams has long owned a home in Bedford-Stuyvesant, but has lately been dogged with questions about where he spends most of his time.
In addition to working as an educator, Collins is the author of “Sweet Promptings,” a 2007 inspirational book for which Adams, then a state senator representing Brooklyn, wrote the introduction. It’s not clear if they were dating at the time, and even a fellow lawmaker who was was close to Adams during his years on the state Senate told The Post they had no recollection of Collins. Back then, Collins worked in his Albany office as chair of his Educational Task Force. (Adams was a state senator representing Brooklyn from 2006 to 2013, when he was elected Brooklyn Borough President.)
“Scholars are learners that get smarter, wiser and kinder everyday,” wrote Collins, who is a former teacher and principal at schools in New Orleans and New York City. In her book, she describes spontaneous acts of kindness. Collins wrote how she decided to give away her old car to a single mother “so [the woman] could bring her children to school, their place of faith, and get to work with some degree of sanity herself. The car was not given to her out of pity, but out of an authentic concern for her wellbeing and happiness that would cascade out to her family.”
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book was earmarked for victims of Hurricane Katrina in Collins’ hometown, Adams noted in the introduction.
In 2010, Collins and Adams collaborated on a billboard campaign throughout Brooklyn called “Stop the Sag” to encourage youth to literally pull up their pants.
“Have pride in your appearance: If you raise your pants, you’ll also raise your image” was the rallying cry of the campaign, created in conjunction with Collins’ Brooklyn-based non-profit Fully Persuaded for Children and Families. The “youth development” charity was incorporated in 2007 and shut down in 2015, according to public records.
The saggy pants look “is one of those issues that impact young people greatly. They walk into classrooms, they walk into schools … and people make an assessment about their appearance,” said Collins about the campaign in a March, 2010 press release on Adams’ Senate web site.
Collins did not hit the 2021 campaign trail with Adams, who, throughout his career as a police officer and a lawmaker, has always been intensely private about his personal life.
“Throughout my entire police career, none of my colleagues knew I had a son,” said Adams, during a June press conference at his Bed-Stuy home. Adams is the father of Jordan Coleman, 25, and Justin Coleman, 19. The mayor-elect and their mother, former Daily News reporter Chrisena Coleman, never wed and split up when Jordan was 2 years old, Adams previously told The Post.
Despite the secrecy surrounding his immediate family, Adams invoked his beloved mother Dorothy Adams, a housecleaner and cook, in a campaign ad, and even emotionally carried her portrait to the polling place where he voted Tuesday. Dorothy Adams, who singlehandedly raised her six children in Brooklyn and Queens, died in March at age 83.
“Eric is the kind of person who keeps his girlfriend out of his business,” said a Queens political operative who has known Adams for decades. “He runs his own stuff. When he was in Albany, he always went on the train by himself. She’s not going to be like de Blasio’s wife. She is just not going to be in the picture.”
Collins is not likely to be involved with city government as first lady Chirlane McCray has been over New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s two terms in office. McCray was formerly head of the city’s embattled ThriveNYC, which spent $1.2 billion on mental health initiatives since it was launched in 2015, raising questions about its spending and effectiveness and lack of information on the overall goals of the program. She is expected to be front and center if de Blasio runs for governor next year.
Despite Collins’ low public profile, Adams described her as his soulmate in his recent book.
“We do everything together, and I wasn’t ready to jump onboard unless she was,” wrote Adams, who convinced Collins to join him on his health quest. “Tracey and I aren’t people who do something half way. So … we threw out every single unhealthy food in our kitchen.”
“I was worried about … Tracey, who had been diagnosed with pre-diabetes,” he wrote. “She … oversees schools in Brooklyn and the Bronx. I have never met anyone more devoted to her job than Tracey. She was so devoted, in fact, that she sacrificed her own health for the sake of New York’s children.”
Adams recalled that the diet, on which they each lost more than 30 pounds, was especially hard on Collins who “emptied out food storage containers filled with her signature dishes,” he wrote. “They were old favorites that made her think of her childhood, including the jambalaya with chicken that her mother used to make.”
Instead, the couple “rekindled” their love of cooking, heading to the kitchen to make vegan pot pie with cornbread crust and coconut milk and vegan gumbo with beans and okra.
Calls to Collins went unanswered.