What is Mayor Curtis Sliwa’s campaign platform?

Curtis Sliwa on the campaign trail (Photo: @CurtisSliwa)

With relatively little money in the bank and only a tenuous connection to his new party, Curtis Sliwa, the Republican candidate for mayor, runs on name recognition and a four-decade history of making headlines. But in public appearances and on his website, he’s showcased his vision for New York City with policies that span the political spectrum.

Sliwa has been a peripheral figure among New York City figures since the 1980s, when her neighborhood watch group, the Guardian Angels, rose to prominence. His time in the limelight has fluctuated and ebbed, although he has been a constant presence on tabloids and shows over the years. For the past several decades, he has been known to New Yorkers as a controversial and conservative radio host who has been adamantly opposed to Donald Trump and only assumed the Republican mantle in 2020 as he approached a candidacy for mayor in this year’s elections.

“A lot of Trumpers ignored this and decided I should be the Republican nominee, I think based on what I’ve been doing in town for 42 years, particularly with a focus on public safety,” he said in a recent interview with Gotham Gazette. . “A lot of other people don’t realize I’m the independent candidate.”

Sliwa calls himself a “populist” who offers “compassionate” solutions to New York City’s problems, although he also favors a return to some of the “tough on crime” policies of the Bloomberg and Giuliani years. He points out that he is not easy to categorize into an ideological category, that he does not get along with many Republican Party leaders, and that he openly woos supporters of former mayoral candidate Andrew Yang , who recently left the Democratic Party to become independent.

In recent years, Sliwa helped lead a takeover of the Reform Party of New York before it lost its voting line and dissolved. He then registered as a Republican and won the mayor’s primary by a wide margin before facing Democratic candidate Eric Adams and other general election candidates.

According to her campaign spokesperson, Teresa Holliday, Sliwa’s main priorities are “Restoring public safety”, expanding education, “Protecting the homeless”, universal basic income, tax reform and welfare. be animals. Its website lists a wider range of issues.

Between the primary and general elections, Sliwa raised just under $ 1 million in private campaign contributions and just qualified for matching public funds, bringing her total fundraising to just over of $ 4 million. This is not trivial, but derisory compared to the $ 19.8 million (public and private) raised by his main opponent, Adams, the president of the borough of Brooklyn.

Sliwa believes that fighting crime and disorder is the gateway to ameliorating other social ills. This philosophy permeates many of its positions.

His highest priority is to increase NYPD funding and hire 3,000 additional police officers. He frequently uses the slogan “pay off the police,” which could involve adding around $ 107 million in city funding to the current operating budget in order to be in line with the FY20 budget, passed before. the take-off of the “Defund” movement. Part of what he means is to re-establish the plainclothes ‘anti-crime’ unit that Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner Dermot Shea shut down in 2020 following Black Lives Matter protests across the city. It also means cracking down on gun violence and a greater police presence in public housing, more cops on subways, and more use of stop-and-search tactics, although he stresses that everything must be done constitutionally – And in some of these positions. and others, he and Adams are often lined up.

On the Sliwa brand, its website devotes a specific section to metro safety. He calls for more NYPD underground patrols to the tune of 4,500 uniformed officers and 500 infiltrators, as well as 500 other MTA cops specifically dedicated to tariff evasion.

Part of what he sees as “subway safety” includes returning the homeless to shelters and those in emotional distress to psychiatric facilities.

Sliwa was asked about his pro-institutionalization stance in the recent interview with Ben Max from the Gotham Gazette. “Especially if they don’t have families or if the families are unable to care for them,” he said, “and especially if it requires them to be looked after by someone because ‘they don’t want treatment or they won’t continue with their medication. “

During Sliwa’s first debate with Adams on Wednesday, he said he wanted the state to lower the bar for forced institutionalization by court order.

Like Adams – a former cop who is also widely seen as a candidate for public order – Sliwa wants to pair mental health experts with police officers on calls related to someone in emotional or psychological distress.

He believes that to keep unprotected people away from streets and subways, the city needs to keep shelters safe by assigning social workers and police to defuse altercations and deter crime. He wants to see more accommodation beds and more internal services like meals, laundry and counseling.

Its plan to tackle homelessness also includes converting government properties into low-rental supportive housing and encouraging development by the private sector. For such apartments, he says individuals should be employed or seek employment and should see counselors and stay out of jail. Beyond supportive housing, the plan includes mentoring and enrichment programs for homeless youth, more street social workers, and full funding for Association of Community Employment programs for the homeless. .

Meanwhile, Sliwa has been remarkably anti-development in public appearances, particularly for a Republican candidate for mayor, saying the city’s population growth should not be an indicator of success and the quality of life of people. people is better when the city is less populated. . He also criticized large development projects like Hudson Yards.

But it devotes part of its platform to building affordable housing for low- and middle-income residents. Its proposals include rezoning and rationalization allowing for the rapid conversion of storefronts and vacant commercial spaces into housing units. It also supports the rezoning of legacy manufacturing sites in Gowanus, SoHo and NoHo, and Long Island City. He wants to secure funding and expand the Mitchell-Lama program. (Again, a number of these positions are similar to Adams’.)

Sliwa also wants to make a number of changes to the property tax system, including setting a 2% cap on annual increases in the city’s tax levy, instituting ten-year reviews of tax exemptions and adjusting the way land values ​​are assessed. He wants to end tax breaks for private universities, hospitals and Madison Square Garden, and create new relief for elderly homeowners earning less than $ 75,000 a year.

He acknowledges the dilapidated social housing in New York City, but opposes proposals to fix NYCHA property through public-private partnerships and the sale of air rights.

“There is no doubt in my mind that there is a plan to eventually try to dislodge the residents and move them in a different direction,” he told the Gotham Gazette of Anonymous Conspirators. Instead, he wants to see a larger and more efficient use of federal funding and use other sources of revenue like the Department of Transportation’s Adopt-A-Highway program. He advocates allowing certain tenants of public housing to become homeowners by buying the equity in their apartments. Like many tenant advocates and Adams, Sliwa wants to see more resident management, job training and employment.

Sliwa aims to provide annual “basic income” checks of $ 2,000 to 100,000 families on the budgets of the Department of Education and Office of Mental Health (formerly ThriveNYC) while reducing class sizes. and by increasing teachers’ salaries – and without raising taxes. The main way to achieve this, he said, is to eliminate or reduce the salaries of six-figure administrative positions in municipal government. To be eligible for checks, parents would need to have a job, have at least one child in school, and meet income requirements. His plan also includes support for school supplies and a back-to-school tax holiday, some of which would require approval from state lawmakers.

Sliwa also wants to expand gifted and talented programs for young children and vocational training in secondary schools. He wants more charter schools and to encourage the development of private and religious schools. He also believes he can help students save money by forcing all public higher education institutions to offer three-year degree programs.

In public appearances, including to the debate stage on Wednesday, Sliwa said he opposed recent covid vaccine mandates for private companies and municipal labor and suggestions to demand vaccines for public school students (Adams said he supported them all). “I don’t agree with Eric. I have the impression that we do not have enough police officers as it is, ”he said. “We should never fire people for this reason,” Sliwa said of the possibility that some officers fail to comply with vaccine requirements and be put on leave.

For small businesses, Sliwa would impose a 60-day deadline for granting permits and licenses to new businesses and expand training on the city’s regulatory process. He also wants to set up a small business loan program in low- and middle-income neighborhoods with loans between $ 300 and $ 45,000.

While Sliwa is not known for his anti-crime orientation, he is known for his cats. The Upper West Side studio he shares with his wife, who is a city council candidate, and Sixteen Cats has become something of a campaign seat and captures a central theme of his campaign: animal welfare.

Above all, this means setting up animal shelters without killing in the five districts. It also means reallocating part of the budget of the city’s animal shelters to the sterilization and sterilization of animals in households and outside.

Sliwa’s animal welfare platform has a police element: he wants to strengthen the NYPD’s Elevating Crimes Against Animals division and work with district attorneys to prosecute animal abuse cases. According to its website, this would address “the link between animal abuse and subsequent criminal activity.”

And with so many rescue cats, it’s no surprise that the latest board on this platform includes “[f]tackle oppressive regulations regarding pets in homes, including restrictions on pet ownership in NYCHA and private rentals.

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