Five NYC Mayoral-Race Candidates You Should Know About
Keep an eye on these candidates for the upcoming election.
Becoming the mayor of New York City is no easy feat. To hold the role is to command one of the most defining cities of America. But as seen with the current mayor, Bill De Blasio, with great power comes great responsibility.
Who will be mayor of New York City is yet to be determined, but until then, here are five important candidates you should most definitely be keeping an eye on.
1. Andrew Yang (46, Dem)
Sometimes identified as the outsider’s outsider, Andrew Yang is driving his mayoral campaign off of much of the public recognition carried over from his 2020 presidential campaign. Known for his universal basic income proposal that aims to give 500,000 low-income New Yorkers $2,000 per month, Yang is big on advocating for unorthodox solutions to orthodox problems. His campaign is prioritized around economic relief in tandem with COVID-19 relief, and many of his other policies to follow suit. For example, Yang believes that to improve NYC education we must first be able to safely reopen schools, which entails economic relief from the pandemic. Unsurprisingly, Yang’s “entrepreneur-minded” agenda style has carried over from his presidential campaign just as his name recognition has.
Scrutiny over his relatability as a New Yorker largely comes from when Yang and his family fled New York City during the pandemic’s peak. In a New York Times interview regarding his actions, Yang stated, “Can you imagine trying to have two kids on virtual school in a two-bedroom apartment and then trying to do work yourself?” Needless to say, the statement did not land well with the public. Yang has also faced backlash over other actions that have reflected his identity as an upper-class entrepreneur as opposed to a relatable New York citizen, but the New York Times interview remains the most salient.
Likewise, Yang faces substantial scrutiny over a reported toxic campaign environment during his 2020 presidential campaign. Most notable was an instance in which a twenty-one-year-old man received a promotion in place of a well-qualified, female regional organizer with a decade of experience.
Lo and behold, though, Yang still dominates the polls largely due to his ubiquitous name and continual coverage of his mistakes. It seems that — oddly similar to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign — Yang is running on the notion that any attention is good attention.
2. Eric Adams (60, Dem)
Known for his background as the current and first African American Borough President of Brooklyn and former police officer of 22 years, Eric Adams attracted widespread attention when his campaign was first announced in November of 2020. Adams is running as a “law enforcement expert,” advocating for police reform as a former victim of police brutality himself but not going as far to advocate for defunding the police. With a history of Type 2 Diabetes, Adams has a strong focus on public health and education. Likewise, in consideration of Adams’ former experience in the police force and in wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, his campaign has steered most of its attention to confronting issues related to racial injustice. Such issues include police reform, gun control, and neighborhood crime.
In terms of scrutiny, Adams mostly faces backlash for his moderacy in regards to abolishing the police and his outspokenness, which often attracts negative public attention. The most well-known instance of this was in a January 2020 speech at an event in Harlem in which Adams proclaimed that gentrifiers should “go back to Iowa, go back to Ohio.” While the statement was well received from the crowd, it was coined as reminiscent of Trump-like banter (i.e. when Trump proclaimed that four minority Democratic congresswomen should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came.”)
3. Maya Wiley (57, Dem)
As a former councilwoman to Mayor Bill de Blasio and analyst for MSNBC, Maya Wiley brings both a familiarity with NYC politics and progressiveness to the table. A message she drives above those experiences, though, is that she would be the first Black woman to be elected for NYC mayor. Her campaign runs robustly on a platform of confronting racial injustice and closing the divide of inequality as a whole. Her “New Deal” proposal plans to invest $10 billion towards creating 100,000 new jobs in NYC, the majority of which would be in fields commonly underserved (For example, childcare workers, librarians, home healthcare workers, and manufacturers).
What deters Wiley’s campaign is not some scandalous event like other candidates, but her position as a candidate trying to campaign her public profile as an “outsider.” Her campaign repeats her catchphrase “I’m not a politician,” but the image that that catchphrase brings becomes more and more fragile as her proximity to Bill de Blasio becomes more apparent. Many New Yorkers don’t want any candidate who has anything to do with De Blasio and her two and a half years of serving as counsel to him taint her public image. Likewise, many Black women in politics suggest that Wiley will be held to “an unforgiving standard,” as a Black woman running for office that her male counterparts would not.
4. Scott M. Stringer (60, Dem)
Scott M. Stringer has been the New York City Comptroller since 2013 (which is a fancy name for the position that oversees the accounting and financial reporting of organizations). Stringer is running his campaign largely on his history of being a longtime New York City bureaucrat, born-and-raised New York City resident, and an economic czar for the good of the city. His platform has a strong focus on education and housing, which he ties to his role as an NYC public school parent. For example, his campaign plans to devote $500 million to child care deserts by building and repairing facilities and he plans to make CUNY colleges “free for all.” He also has been a longtime advocate for key progressive causes like women’s reproductive and LGBTQ+ rights.
Stringer faces plenty of public scrutiny, though, as many believe that it is not his time for office. After all, many are tired and angry at the “old white man in office,” stereotype and Stringer fills just that. While Stringer may argue on the basis of his experience, such longtime experience also works as a double-edged sword, breaking the trust that many marginalized communities would have in him compared to if he wasn’t a familiar bureaucrat. Having such a longstanding history in NYC politics leads many to be suspicious of his authenticity as a politician. In other words, many suspect he simply aims to climb another rung in the ladder of NYC politics. Likewise, any advocacy Stringer may show for the extremely relevant issue of racial injustice will simply pale, and perhaps be deemed insensitive, in comparison to his competing candidates who experience racial injustice firsthand.
5. Raymond J. McGuire (64, Dem)
Raymond J. McGuire is a veteran businessman who worked at Citigroup and became one of the highest-ranking and longest-serving African American business executives on Wall Street. With 40 years in Wall Street and none in politics, McGuire faces severe challenges in convincing those not of the 1% of his authenticity. His platform runs centrally on economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and city security. His plan to recover the New York economy involves providing immediate financial support for local businesses and streamlining factors like permits and inspections in an effort to revive 500,000 jobs.
McGuire’s economic recovery plan includes many other factors towards economic recovery but is arguably overshadowed by his controversial presence as a man of Wall Street rather than a man of the people. His openness to admitting to being a “supercapitalist” in tandem with failing to comment on if he voted for Bloomberg has further driven the idea that he is a “Black Bloomberg.” Likewise, it has been brought to public attention that McGuire represented a government-owned Saudi Arabian petrochemical company over ten years ago when the nation was under heat for human rights abuses. All in all, his ability to raise funds from 1% investors may be outweighed by his inability to confront his controversial business practices and lack of relatability to the non-one-percent.
Five NYC Mayoral-Race Candidates You Should Know About was originally published in NYU Local on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.