In a January article by BBC News, one of the sources described New York City as “not dead, but on life support.” To respond to a question, the City’s Mayor, Bill de Blasio, reportedly said, “…I know this City will rebound… And I know others will come. There will be a vaccine. And then all the strengths of New York City will reassert again.”
Over 12 months after the COVID-19 onslaught, New York, like other states, is still grappling with the crippling impact of the pandemic, which grounded the economy. The unemployment rate remains high at over 10%, as businesses struggle to reopen amid the lingering aftermath of the pandemic, which had led to the shutting down of several companies and resulting in an economic melt-down. Yet for New York, the exodus of residents, especially from Manhattan, one of the core boroughs of the City, which attracts people from all over the world, is one of the most significant blows to its recovery. This scenario is not new to New Yorkers, who have grappled with such an exit in the past. The relocation of the people remains steady as technology provides an alternative to working from a physical office located in the City. However, with the arrival of funds through the American Rescue Plan, residents are optimistic that the City’s economy will start improving in the next couple of months.
Under the new reality, the City needs a laser-focused leader with singleness of purpose, determined, not sidetracked by the numerous issues and challenges confronting the City. An experienced crisis management expert – a transformational leader focused on tangible results and driven by a personal conviction of living a lasting legacy. A leader who will accept the new rules of engagement created by unique circumstances while genuinely thriving on collaboration and transparency. Someone who understands the extent of New York City’s crisis will seek the advice of those closest to the situation in designing a logical and adaptive response that suits the situation. The City needs a Mayor that will employ an agile approach yet structured in execution. One with these characteristics is what New York City requires in the next phase as it grapples with the challenge of rising out of the ashes of social and economic devastation, to relaunch into a newly transformed entity whose scars only add to her beauty.
Kathryn Garcia – Who, What and Why
Amongst the over forty Mayoral candidates, Kathryn Garcia, a Democrat, and an experienced enigmatic leader, molded from personal and work experience, stands out of the pack. A fearless contender who is running against other intimidating career politicians and officials with several years of experience like Eric Adams, Scott Stringer, Shaun Donovan, and popular candidates like Andrew Yang. While the growing field of candidates has intimidating candidates, Ms. Garcia’s resume includes working in several city agencies, often in immediate crisis and desperate need of intervention.
She is an individual that epitomizes the New York spirit – progressive, optimistic, strong, energetic, defying yet stable and welcoming—bidding to lead a city formed from the amalgamation of a variety of cultures and people from around the world, who arrive the City in search of a better life.
This Mayoral candidate is a true New Yorker, born and raised in the City, in a household with similar characteristics. A home that would have taught her the act of accepting and celebrating differences.
In her words from an interview with Caribbean American Weekly, she explains,” I was born and raised in Brooklyn, I was raised in a multiracial family because I was adopted as were two of my siblings who are African-American. My parents were able to raise us on a civil servant salary, which is nearly impossible today; it is difficult”.
Listen to an interview with Kathryn Garcia on “Running for Mayor of NYC” below:
Based on her career history: she served as a one-time commissioner for city sanitation, the interim chair of the New York Housing Authority, and most recently served as NYC’s emergency food program, Food Czar, during the beginning through the peak of COVID-19 in 2020.
With her extensive service and history since 2014 under the present administration, she has the advantage of knowing what worked and didn’t work. Thus she will uphold the best practices and correct the faulty patterns of the present administration, saving the City a lot of potentially lost time that accompanies most transitions.
Garcia introduced considerable reforms in the City’s sanitation system, making it more updated and compliant, seasoned with an environmental protection approach. Most recently, she led the initiative to combat food insecurity for New Yorkers during the pandemic.
“You may not have known my name, but you know my work, she says. For 14 years, I delivered your water and your sewer; I plowed your snow; I picked up your garbage. I was the interim Chair of NYCHA as well as during COVID, and I delivered 130 million meals to the people who were sick or homebound”.
Proposals for New York City
What she lacks in political experience, she makes up for in public service achievements. As a Mayoral candidate, she is proposing reforms to help small businesses recover and remain resuscitated from the effect of the pandemic through meaningful economic relief and creating job pathways for the most in need and vulnerable New Yorkers. According to her campaign, “a plan for small businesses to reopen and stay open, and a green future.” Garcia says, “We need to eliminate the bureaucracy that hampers them,” she says. “We need to put in place a vacancy tax for retail and ensure that we are supporting them in every way possible.”
She maintained the same narrative in her interview, saying,”…getting our economy back and running. We have lost hundreds of thousands of jobs, and we need them to come back. That means supporting small businesses, giving them access to public space for arts, culture, restaurants. I know that they need support. We need to make sure they are getting low-interest loans from the City, that they also are not being subjected to the City’s fines and fees.”
She strongly believes in improved community policing, which drives down crime yet restore community trust in the City’s law enforcement agency. “They need to not over enforce on a community just because of how they look,” Garcia says. “Those that do treat people differently based on the color of their skin need to be held accountable.”
Environmental protection appears to be a vital issue she intends to tackle. Having proven her ability with innovative ideas implemented when serving as the Commissioner for Sanitation and other positions at various times during her career, Garcia wants to move New York City to an economy that runs on renewable energy. She has her strategies designed and waiting for the opportunity.
Saying that this year’s Mayoral race is different is a gross understatement. The number of contestants, gender composition, candidates’ profile, timing, and the newly introduced voting method attests to the statement. With only a few months before the primaries in June, the ranked-choice mayoral election is gathering momentum.
Despite the candidacy of other high-quality female contestants like Maya Wiley, Sara Tirschwell, Barbara Kavovit, Dianne Morales, in addition to other top-notch male contestants, Kathryn Garcia, reputed as an accountable, bold, hardworking, and resilient leader, is worth the consideration as the next and first female Mayor of New York City.
“This is a different time. NYC does not need another politician. They need somebody who can roll up their sleeves and get the job done. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past 14 years. I am a public servant, not a politician, and that makes all the difference.”
Listen to podcasts of Kathryn Garcia’s full exclusive interviews on People, Power, & Politics Radio Show by clicking here. You may also listen to full shows of People, Power, & Politics Radio Show at anchor.fm/pppradio, on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Breaker, and RadioPublic.