Andrew Yang says he can ‘transform New York politics’
As a presidential candidate, Andrew Yang, who has spent years building support for his Universal Basic Income proposal, defied expectations and outlasted many people said.
Building on the energy and attention gained from a presidential campaign built around the idea of providing $ 1,000 a month to every American between the ages of 18 and 64, Mr. Yang became one of the pioneers to become New York’s next mayor, although recent polls show his lead is eroding.
His entry into the mayoral race changed the dynamics of the election and made him the target of attacks from opponents who say they lack the experience to run New York City, in particular during his recovery from Covid-19.
Mr. Yang, 46, says the attacks are a good sign.
“There haven’t been a lot of advantages in attacking Presidential candidate Andrew Yang,” he said in a recent interview.
“I appreciate it because it means we have a better chance of winning and having a positive impact,” he said.
Mr. Yang is one of 13 Democratic candidates seeking to succeed Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, who is stepping down at the end of the year due to term limits. In a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than six times, the winner of the June primary will likely be the next mayor.
When Mr. Yang jumped into the race in January, he arrived without any experience of government or New York politics, joining a crowded field that includes the current Comptroller, the Brooklyn Borough President and the former commissioner for sanitation.
But he had great notoriety, spurred on by his run for president, two books, and his work as a contributor on CNN. He has millions of dollars in his campaign treasury and there are at least three political action committees backing him.
Mr. Yang also has a diverse coalition of support, including Reps Ritchie Torres and Grace Meng, both Democrats. He has also recently received the support of many ultra-Orthodox Jewish leaders, able to deliver large numbers of voters.
“I want this job because I think I can help transform New York politics in a positive way,” said Mr. Yang, who lives in Hell’s Kitchen with his wife, Evelyn, and young sons Christopher and Damian.
His biggest policy idea is to add a direct cash relief program to the city, a smaller version of the UBI he promised when running for president. In New York City, the poorest 6% of residents – about 500,000 people – would receive an average of $ 2,000 per year, or about $ 167 per month.
Mr. Yang previously said he would pay the estimated annual cost of $ 1 billion with a mix of philanthropic dollars and municipal funds. But in an interview in May, he said he’s now focused on getting the city to pay him.
To fund the program, he called for ending property tax exemptions for some properties like Madison Square Garden, and said he would find other inefficiencies in the country’s more than $ 98 billion budget. city. Some of that could come from existing social service programs, he said, since needs could be reduced with direct money.
“We just need to determine what that impact is,” he said, although he did not have more details.
“I think it’s going to be hard to go ahead and say, hey, we’re not going to need it anymore because we’re doing this cash relief program.”
During the campaign, New Yorkers line up to take photos with him. Some thank him for running, saying they’re ready for a change.
But his relative inexperience in city government has led to missteps on some major issues.
Last month, he suggested that the city resume its transit system, currently run by the state, without providing many details. At a forum, he said the city should add domestic violence shelters, which already exist.
And while touting his police reform plan at a recent press conference, he stumbled when asked about the repeal of 50-a, a decades-old law that protected disciplinary records from public policing. Repeal has been one of the biggest criminal justice reform issues of the past year.
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New Yorkers won’t be distracted by the fact that Andrew Yang is as pragmatic, progressive and thoughtful on issues as anyone who has ever competed for this position – whether he recites statutory code numbers and letters is an important point. for anyone. who listens, ”campaign spokesperson Jake Sporn said.
The campaign gave Mr. Yang the chance to explore parts of the city he has not visited, he said.
“There are so many neighborhoods that feel like a bunch of people have come together there and made their own home,” whether it is the Yemeni community of Bay Ridge, the southern community. Asian in Jackson Heights or the Chinese community in Sunset Park, he says.
It was this energy that helped him win over so many voters, supporters said.
State Senator John Liu, who endorsed Mr. Yang, said his presidential campaign was an inspiration to Asian Americans across the country and especially in New York City.
“He became our hope, he was our dream,” said Mr. Liu, the first Asian politician elected to city council and then to city office when he became comptroller in 2013.
“He put Asian Americans on the national stage, literally.
The Queens senator later said he was impressed with Mr. Yang’s proposals, especially around schools and the police. When asked if he had any concerns about the candidate’s experience, he said he had real-world experience that matters too.
“He is a man who has a lot of ideas on how to move this city forward after this very difficult and unprecedented time that we have been through,” he said.
Write to Katie Honan at [email protected]
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