Democratic mayoral candidate profiles

September 5, 2013 Editorial Staff
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Sal Albanese: A city councilmember from southwest Brooklyn for 15 years, Sal Albanese entered the mayoral race to bring a commonsense, everyman’s perspective to the contest that he believes will resonate with voters hungry for something other than politics-as-usual.

“My vision for the city is to build on the good things that have happened like the tech boom and some of the tremendous improvements we’ve seen on the waterfront, and make the city more affordable and more prepared for future Hurricane Sandys,” Albanese explained.

A key to New York’s future, Albanese contends, is making the city “more affordable.” This, he said, “involves fixing failing schools, creating living wage jobs and building more affordable housing because it’s become prohibitive to live here.”

To that end, Albanese said, he would institute “Clawbacks for developers who don’t provide affordable housing and union jobs as agreed,” meaning that if they don’t live up to the terms of their agreement with the city, it would cost them significantly. “I have accepted no donations from developers because I want to make decisions on the merits.”

That decision is at the heart of Albanese’s candidacy. If you fundraise from large donors, he said, to keep them happy, “You basically are doing the bidding of the people who funded your campaign.”

In terms of education, Albanese said he would like to see “Better teacher recruitment and training,” as well as retooling the school system to reflect the reality that learning begins right at birth. “It’s commonsense to invest in early intervention,” he contended.

With 15 years on the Council’s Public Safety Committee, Albanese supports community policing that he said he had “led the fight for” in the 1980s, “when the crime rate was rising.”

As for stop and frisk, he said, “It has to be modified. It’s an effective tool for keeping guns off the street but it has created a lot of tension. The first thing we need to make sure of is that no one is stopped in violation of the Constitution. Racial programing is illegal and we need to make sure that doesn’t happen, but let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater.”

Sal Albanese sat down with this paper for an in-person interview.

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Bill de Blasio:Why did Bill de Blasio decide to run for mayor? “As a former City Hall staffer, school board member, city councilmember, and now as public advocate, I’ve spent my life working to ensure that New Yorkers across all five boroughs get a fair shot,” he said. “I am a proud public school parent and having lived in Brooklyn for the last 20 years, I have a firsthand knowledge of the challenges facing New York City families and outer-borough residents.

“There is a crisis of inequality gripping our city,” he continued. “Currently, 46 percent of city residents are living at or near the poverty line, while 400,000 millionaires also call New York home. I am running so that we can end this Tale of Two Cities and build one New York, where everyone rises together.

“As mayor, my number one priority will be addressing our city’s crisis of inequality, which manifests itself in myriad ways including income levels, housing prices, hospital closures and the overuse and abuse of stop and frisk,” de Blasio went on.

“Circumstances have only worsened for New Yorkers struggling to stay in their homes, with sky-high rent and inadequate affordable housing,” he contended. “I have a plan to build 100,000 new affordable housing units and preserve an additional 90,000 over the next eight years by legalizing basement apartments, promoting outer-borough constructions, and ending giveaways for big developers.

“The crisis of inequality is also affecting our city’s safety,” de Blasio said. “The overuse and abuse of stop-and-frisk has been disproportionately applied to outer-borough young black and Latino men, driving a wedge between police-community relations. I am the only candidate who supports the reforms necessary to keep our street safe while mending policy and community relations. As mayor, I will name a new police commissioner, appoint an independent inspector general to oversee NYPD policies, and enforce a strong legislative ban on racial-profiling.

“New Yorkers have a choice in front of us,” de Blasio concluded. “Councilmember Vincent Gentile has endorsed me for mayor because he knows we can’t afford another four years like the last 12, where the politics of inequality have affected everything from housing prices to healthcare. It is time to end this Tale of Two Cities.”Bill de Blasio was not able to speak with this paper and provided written answers to our questions.

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John Liu: John Liu believes that he stands out as a candidate because “I’ve spent most of my career not in government, but just working a regular job in the private sector.”

An immigrant from Taiwan who moved to New York as a child, Liu believes that his Average Joe, American Dream understanding of the untapped potential of the city’s residents is a strength voters will appreciate at the polls.

If elected, Liu aims to make the city less “corporate,” less “a playground for the rich and famous,” and “more like the international capital of the world.”

Liu’s vision for the city is to “leverage” the city’s diversity in business, culture and more, to empower citizens while also “supporting the economic base.”

“We see big companies constantly getting tax breaks and subsidies from taxpayers and meanwhile, small businesses are always hurting, not only being taxed fully, but also being hit with backdoor taxes on violations and fees,” he said. “I advocate making sure all big companies pay their fair share of taxes, get and using that money to give a break to small businesses.

Similarly, Liu said that he wants to strengthen the city’s healthcare system. “I want to build stronger partnerships with community-based organizations that are trusted by communities more so than communities trust governments, and provide services at more cost effective levels,” he said.

In response to the controversy surrounding his campaign fundraising, Liu maintains, “We don’t fundraise any differently than other candidates, with the exception of me raising my ethics bar much higher in terms of not accepting money from companies doing business with the city and with Wall Street.”

He added that “there have been questions about my fundraising, but people haven’t questioned the work I’ve done as comptroller.”

Liu said he is proud of his record as comptroller and hopes to continue his work saving taxpayer’s money and cutting out waste as mayor.

John C. Liu sat down with this paper for an in-person interview.

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Christine Quinn: City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said that she is running for mayor so other families can have the same opportunities that she had.

“All four of my grandparents were immigrants from Ireland who came specifically to New York because if they came here, they would be free and get out of poverty,” Quinn said. “They got to the middle class and all their children got to the middle class and have better lives.”

Quinn said she is running so she can “pay back my debt to the city of New York” and to “make it a place of opportunity again.” She would like to see a city “where if you work hard, you get to the middle class.

“We need apartments we can afford, homes to raise children in, to stay and grow old in,” Quinn went on. “We need a city that has good jobs and real schools for people. We have to make sure that this city lives up to the progressive values that I believe have made such a success for my family.”

One of Quinn’s biggest concerns is how unaffordable the city is right now, including high rents, property taxes and water bills.

“We need to take on the affordability crisis and need to grow more good middle class jobs,” Quinn said. “We have to focus on the potential of all the neighborhoods in the city. All of the boroughs have to be part of that economic development engineering.”

Quinn said she will also fight to keep crime down. “We want to keep New York the safest big city in America without violating civil liberties and not teaching kids to take tests, to teach kids to be the best they can be,” she said. “I want to make this a place that is really home for the middle class, so when I Ieave office in eight years, there will be more people in the middle class and it will be a more affordable time in our city.”

Christine Quinn spoke with this paper over the phone.

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Erick Salgado: Erick Salgado, who considers himself a conservative Democrat, has ties to three boroughs. He was born in the Bronx, currently lives on Staten Island and has been the pastor of a Brooklyn church, Iglesias Jovenes Cristianos, for the past 18 years.

Salgado said that he decided to run for mayor after working with Sandy victims.

The pivotal point for him was when Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that we had recovered and was planning to hold a marathon just days after the storm.

“At that same time, people in Coney Island were hunting for food in the garbage. That touched me,” he said. “New York City needs a leader that has sensitivity to different communities that are struggling with many economic issues.”

If elected, Salgado said his number one priority is keeping the city safe.

“To save money, the current administration dramatically decreased the number of police officers,” Salgado said, adding that the police force needs to grow back up to 37,000, “so we can keep a safe city with policies that will not target any community.”

He said that instead of using stop-and-frisk, a “cheap way to enforce the law,” he would bring back the beat cop, “who is friendly and understands the different communities.”

As for education, Salgado is not happy with the Department of Education that Bloomberg created. He contends that the agency is taking almost a third of the city’s budget.

“I will concentrate on generating money that will be exclusively used for the Board of Education for better use of school facilities during non-school hours and rent them to non-profit organizations that are willing to create programs that will benefit the community,” Salgado explained.

When it comes to immigration reform, “I will push a program that will register all undocumented immigrants,” he said. “It’s a law enforcement issue. We need to know who our neighbors are, out tenants are, our friends are.

“At the same time, I will issue them a valid NYC municipal identification card so they will be able to rent apartments, identify themselves to a police officer and not be incarcerated for 24 hours just because they have no ID,” he went on. “They will be able to open a bank account, pay federal taxes and also contribute to city budget by paying a small city fee.”

When it comes to affordable housing, Salgado said he will give incentives to developers.

“I want to build in Brooklyn in areas especially affected by Hurricane Sandy. It’s unacceptable to ignore the people who live on the shore or even allow them to remodel their houses knowing that they will go through the same problem again,” he contended.

This paper did an in-person interview with Erick Salgado.

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Bill Thompson: Bill Thompson, former city comptroller, said that he is running for mayor so all New Yorkers can enjoy the same opportunities that he and his family had.

Thompson’s grandparents immigrated to New York from the Caribbean back in 1917 and were “able to build a better life for themselves.” Thompson’s father was a World War II veteran who went on to become Brooklyn’s first black state senator and a New York Supreme Court judge, Appellate Division. His mother was a New York City school teacher, working in Brooklyn schools.

“Three generations of Thompsons had opportunities in New York City. When you look at the city nowadays, it’s not a city of opportunity for all New Yorkers,” he contended. “Realize that I want to be a mayor who wins opportunity back for every person in this city.”

Thompson said that he would first change the city’s education system, taking the focus away from standardized testing and memorization and focusing on comprehension and critical thinking.

Secondly, Thompson would make sure every single community in New York is safe. “Some of them are, but not all. At the same point, my administration will make sure that the practices of stop and frisk are not being used and abused,” he said.

He would also try to create additional affordable housing. “People are being priced out and pushed out of neighborhoods,” Thompson contended.

“We have to make sure that we continue to create jobs in the city of New York – good paying jobs, not minimum wage jobs, so people can take their families to live in the city,” Thompson said, adding that he would fully represent all five boroughs.

“I want to be a mayor who represents all New Yorkers and all communities in all five boroughs,” Thompson said, adding that he will fight the constantly increasing property taxes and water bill rates. “People have felt out and want a mayor to fight for them. I will be that person. I want to be a mayor to make New York more affordable to work and live in.”

Bill Thompson spoke with this paper over the phone.

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Anthony Weiner: Former Congressmember Anthony Weiner said that he knows a thing or two about campaigning since “in all fairness” he has been running for mayor since 2004.

“No candidate is doing what I am, but it’s a tough job and this is what I am here to do,” Weiner said. “Some people think you’ve got to be tough to run this town. [What I am doing] shows how I would deal with this pressure.”

If elected, Weiner said his main goal is “making life easier for the middle class and those trying to make it into the middle class.”

In order to do that, Wiener said that he would try to improve the city’s education system.

“Schools are not what they should be and they are the most important ladder to the middle class in the city,” he contended, adding that he would offer teachers more pay for more classes. “We have to get back to the basics.”

Weiner said he would also provide “good jobs with good wages. We need to reorient the economy and redo zoning to keep jobs in the city and not in New Jersey.”

Weiner said that he will also work to protect the city’s infrastructure – and claims that he is already ahead of the game. Back in 2006, Weiner warned residents of a big hurricane and got funding to restore marshlands around Plumb Beach.

“But there’s still a lot to be done,” he said. “The requirement for flood insurance has to be mediated by somebody. It should be a relationship that everyone pays into.”

Weiner also said that power lines and other infrastructure should be put underground and sand replenished in places like Rockaway and Manhattan Beach.

“We need to learn a lot on how to not do our emergency response like last time,” he said.

Other ideas Weiner would focus on are giving undocumented citizens some form of ID and reforming the city’s special education program by “developing alternative tracks.” Weiner also said that he would hold regular town hall meetings so “citizens can learn from each other.”

Anthony Weiner sat down with this paper for an in-person interview.


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