New York City is currently facing an unprecedented number of crises. Small businesses have been brought to heel by the COVID-19 pandemic, public health and public safety have both declined significantly, all while the city continues to get more and more expensive due to the lack of comprehensive planning for development and affordable housing.
These crises have hit the outer boroughs particularly hard, where mainstreet economics and working-class New Yorkers are struggling to hang on. For these reasons, our paper looked for a mayoral candidate who we believe would best protect and serve the interests of communities in Brooklyn and Queens. After much deliberation, we believe that candidate is Andrew Yang.
Although Yang gained notoriety as a presidential candidate, he possesses an intimate knowledge of Queens and Brooklyn (his wife is a Bayside native ) that is reflected in his policies. His vision for the city is bold and comprehensive, yet it doesn’t lose sight of the particular problems and solutions that are applicable to individuals, families, and business owners.
In an interview with our paper earlier this month, Yang spoke at length about his plans for economic recovery and small business investments. More so than any other candidate, Yang demonstrated an understanding that mom-and-pop businesses are the bread and butter of the City’s economy, especially in neighborhoods throughout Brooklyn and Queens.
We are particularly impressed by Yang’s plan for a People’s Bank of New York, which would offer every New Yorker access to basic financial products and services. The bank would also guarantee loans and financial support for small businesses in underserved and immigrant communities.
Such a measure would preserve the culture and livelihood of many neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens. A People’s Bank is also particularly important and feasible during our current moment, when federal funding for COVID-19 relief is available to invest into small businesses and local communities.
Similarly, Yang’s comprehensive plan for land use and housing would bring positive change to Brooklyn and Queens. His commitment to move away from the de Blasio era practice of rezoning poorer communities would decrease the effects of gentrification and displacement in the outer boroughs.
Additionally, his support for accessory dwelling units and 100 percent affordable housing on city-owned properties would increase housing stock without enduring the unwieldy ULURP process that often stalls developments or leads to unaffordable housing (consider the Gowanus rezoning fight currently unfolding in Brooklyn).
Such measures would transform the citywide conversation about zoning and development into a more productive and thoughtful conversation about planning.
Although he is a political outsider, Yang has received endorsements from Sunset Park Councilman Carlos Menchaca, Flushing Assemblyman Ron Kim, and other established politicians.
These relationships make us confident that Yang will work effectively with the City Council and other government officials without getting bogged down by his own political debts.
Similarly, Yang’s commitment to curb the rise in hate crimes indicates that he will be willing to work closely with the NYPD and other agencies to secure public safety. Yang was recently endorsed by the firefighters union, another good sign on this front.
In meeting with Yang, we were pleasantly surprised by his grasp on the city and its inner workings. However, his distance from the machinery of New York City politics is surely a welcome change.
We believe that Yang’s plans for the city strike the right balance between a large-scale vision for change and a clear focus on the specific issues affecting communities and businesses. For these reasons, we think Andrew Yang is the best choice for Queens, Brooklyn, and all of New York.
After Yang, we were most impressed by Kathryn Garcia. Many people with close ties to our paper — elected officials and constituents alike — sing the virtues of her work ethic and experience as the head of the Department of Sanitation. Our own interactions with her inspire similar sentiments.
We are confident that Garcia would be a great administrator and manager of city politics. However, her vision for small business relief and the post-COVID recovery is not as bold as Yang’s, and for that reason we rank her second on our ballot.
Much the same could be said for Eric Adams. Our paper has interacted with Adams on the campaign trail and during his time as Brooklyn borough president, and we have consistently been impressed by his integrity and professionalism.
Like Garcia though, Adams’ plans for recovery and small business support are not comprehensive enough for the current moment. Additionally, we are concerned that Adams will shy away from political fights on account of his preexisting relationships with politicians, the police force, and other key players at City Hall.
Other candidates in the race have left much less of an impression. Even though she labels herself as a progressive, Maya Wiley brought about very little change as Mayor Bill de Blasio’s chair of the Civilian Complaint Review Board.
If anything, she made police accountability even worse during her tenure when she agreed with de Blasio’s decision to make police disciplinary records secret.
On the other hand, Scott Stringer and Dianne Morales have both watched as their campaigns imploded these past few weeks due to sexual misconduct allegations and labor disputes, respectively.
The victor of the Democratic primary will likely be elected mayor come November. The next person to reside in Gracie Mansion must confront the aftermath of COVID-19 as well as a number of other lingering issues left unresolved by the de Blasio administration.
That person must pursue a bold plan for recovery while listening to and protecting the interests of hardworking New Yorkers.
It’s no easy job, but we believe that Andrew Yang has the best shot of getting it done.