With the Presidential election decided, it’s time for New Yorkers to start thinking about a new Mayor. Since in New York City the Democrat almost always wins, the primary which occurs in June of 2021 will probably decide the mayoralty. DeBlasio has fulfilled his two terms and is ineligible to run again.
Clearly, the city has a number of issues to address in order to reinvigorate and burnish its global stature. These issues, many brewing even before the pandemic laid waste to several sectors of our economy, including jobs, anti-business feeling, housing, quality of life, and crime. Let’s take a slightly deeper look:
- Jobs and Anti-Business Feeling— Businesses create the engine which makes the city run. From the smallest to the largest, they oil the wheels of New York, creating jobs and providing services. The city courts disaster, especially in moments like these, when many of its politicians cast business as the enemy of the people. Local candidates refuse real estate money as a demonstration of virtue. Politicians exult in the defeat of initiatives like rezoning Industry City or bringing Amazon to Long Island City as if they weren’t depriving their communities of both jobs and infusions of capital. With so many industries, hospitality and dining at the top of the list, being forced to let workers go, the city needs all the jobs it can create.
- Housing – Creating low- and middle-income housing MUST be the product of public/private partnerships. There is no other efficient way to get it done. The city, working in tandem with real estate developers, can work its way through the regulations which make this initiative so complex. Each side is motivated by goodwill and a desire to see New York thrive. They have to work together to make it happen.
- Quality of Life – Harassment of pedestrians, panhandling, homelessness, petty crime, all have made a gradual comeback over the past few years, a comeback which has accelerated during the months since March. And if there is one thing which the events of the spring and summer taught us, it is that our police are not trained to handle these problems, so many of which are exacerbated by mental illness. It’s fair neither to the cops nor to their quality-of-life targets to make them solely responsible for managing this crisis. Before it became so politicized, the idea of shifting some funding from police departments to underwrite social workers or mental health professionals offering support and teamwork on some 911 calls made a lot of sense. It still does.
- Crime – Cities across America have experienced unusually high levels of serious crime in the wake of the pandemic. Bad actors, either hoping to inflame passions or simply take advantage of the cover of street demonstrations, broke windows and robbed stores in New York in the early summer. As crowds increasingly faced off against police over the past months, parts of the force have taken early retirement while others may lack the vigor to pursue criminals as they had before. Clearly, we as citizens must both restore urban faith in the police and hold the police accountable for inequities in treatment and arrests visited on communities of color. We have no chance as a city if we can’t ALL walk our streets in peace and feel that those paid with our tax dollars are sworn to protect us all.
In recent weeks many well-known figures, including Jerry Seinfeld and Leonard Lauder, have re-enunciated their commitment to New York. We all have a lot of work to do; through it all, we should remember, as Leonard Bernstein told us many years ago, that New York is a wonderful town.