A Voter Guide to New York City’s 2021 Mayoral Race

This year’s general election is slated to be one of the most significant in New York City’s modern political history. Thirty five council seats and the mayorship are currently up for grabs, and the outcome of the election is certain to shape the course of the city’s future in the years ahead. With debates raging over vaccine mandates, public safety, education reform and economic inequality, a diverse range of candidates have stepped forward to pitch their public agenda to voters, in hopes of becoming the city’s 110th mayor.

Here is a quick guide to who will be on the ballot this Nov. 2:

Eric Adams – Democratic Party

The frontrunner in a majority democratic city, Eric Adams is predicted to most likely win the election. A graduate of John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Marist College, Adams served in the New York Police Department (NYPD) for 22 years, where he founded the advocacy group Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care. His political career began in 2006, when he was elected to the New York State Senate, where he went on to serve four terms. Since 2013, he has been serving as the Brooklyn Borough President. Earlier this year, Eric Adams emerged victorious in the Democratic Party primaries, edging out over a crowded field of diverse candidates.

Adams entered the Mayoral race pitching himself as a moderate Democrat and longtime police reformer with experience in law enforcement. His key policies include reforming the NYPD by publicizing the list of cops being monitored for uncivil behavior and hiring civilians to handle bureaucratic matters, leaving trained police with more time to patrol the streets instead of doing paperwork. Adams also hopes to improve the housing situation by building affordable housing in neighborhoods that already have a moderate to high median income and repurposing hotels and city office buildings to accommodate affordable housing. 

Adams’ platform largely focuses on revitalizing the economy after the COVID-19 pandemic. He intends to implement a two-year tax break for businesses who struggled financially during the pandemic if they agree to keep a certain number of people employed, while prioritizing POC and woman-owned businesses in city contracts. Adams’ economic plan also involves expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, providing subsidized or free childcare to families in need and investing in green jobs. Furthermore, Adams is a proponent of allowing tax-paying legal immigrants to vote in municipal elections. 

Curtis Sliwa – Republican Party

The other major party candidate on the ballot is Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels: a civilian crime fighting organization founded in 1977. Sliwa has taken the city’s spotlight in the past. In 1992, Sliwa was kidnapped by associates of John Gotti and shot at point-blank range. He escaped from the car and was rushed to the hospital. That same year, Sliwa confessed that several heroic deeds by the Guardian Angels had been faked to draw positive press coverage. Sliwa has also been criticized for offensive comments disparaging immigrants and for sexist remarks about then City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito. 

Sliwa’s policy platform is heavily focused on public safety. He promises to refund the police by restoring budgets that have been cut and expanding police presence in the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Housing. He also plans to add 4,500 uniformed and 500 undercover NYPD officers to patrol the subways, as well as 500 MTA officers to combat fare evasion. Sliwa is a proponent of a pilot Universal Basic Income (UBI) program that would give $1,100 a month to 500 New York residents for two years. As for education, Sliwa favors a full return to in-person learning and an expansion of the school year to run through the end of July instead of June. He would also reform the City University of New York (CUNY) system by implementing a three-year vocational degree program as an alternative to the traditional credit system currently in place. 

William (Bill) Pepitone – Conservative Party

Retired NYPD Officer Bill Pepitone is the nominee for the Conservative Party. Upon retirement, Pepitone moved to Morrisville, PA and wrote novels, most notably ”Soul of a Yankee,” a retelling of his uncle Joe Peptione’s life. Although he is known for his career in law enforcement, he has also briefly served on the Morrisville Borough Council. 

Pepitone pledges a return to Broken Windows Policing, in which police crack down on small violations with the aim of creating order in a community. This would increase policing in high crime areas, a system which critics have argued disproportionately affects communities of color due to biased crime statistics. Pepitone also plans to increase resources for the NYPD Counter-Terrorism Bureaur and Strategic Response Group. He has stated that his goal is to “identify and apprehend members of ANTIFA or any hate groups that attempt to bring violence and destruction to our city.”

As the father of a daughter with autism, special education is a top priority for Pepitone. He plans to dramatically increase funding for special needs programs in public schools and provide training to the NYPD and school safety officers on dealing with incidents involving special needs students. He also advocates for in-person education, parental consent to test and vaccinate children, and claims that “​​there is no science or data that shows mask wearing by children is essential.” Other notable policies include lowering taxes, lowering licensing and permit regulations and continuing testing for the SHSAT. 

Stacey Prussman – Libertarian Party

Stacey Prussman is an actress, comedian and motivational speaker from New York. She has stated that her reason for running is to “restore the heart of New York,” arts and culture. 

Her main policy is an Equitable Basic Income pilot program that would provide 2,000 New York full time residents who filed taxes from 2014-2019 with $2,000 a month for two years. Some of her policy priorities are in line with libertarian goals, which include decriminalizing sex work, fully legalizing cannabis and ending vaccine mandates in favor of mandatory testing. Nevertheless, Prussman’s platform differs from traditional libertarians in significant ways. She aims to end the horse-drawn carriage industry in the city, which she believes promotes animal cruelty, and to reduced the cost of housing by pursuing low cost construction techniques such as 3D printing.

Raja Flores – Humanity United Party

Chief of Thoracic Surgery at the Mount Sinai Medical Center and Director of the Thoracic Surgical Oncology Program at Mount Sinai Cancer Center, Raja Michael Flores is running under the Humanity United Party for NYC Mayor. 

Flores says NYCHA housing is the centerpiece of his campaign. His main plans include increasing funding for NYCHA housing, expanding the number of permanent housing available for the homeless and reducing property taxes for homeowners. He would also subsidize small businesses that operate within NYCHA and encourage NYCHA residents to seek employment within these businesses. Flores also promises to maintain transparency in federal, state and local funding for restoring NYCHA apartments, a policy he says is especially significant to him as a surgeon with specialized expertise in mesothelioma.

Flores’ other main promise is to appoint Manuel Gomez as first deputy Mayor, giving him the responsibility of crime and public safety. Gomez plans to revoke qualified immunity for politicians, making them vulnerable to civil lawsuits for actions or policies passed in office. Flores also endorses community policing and believes trust in the police will reduce crime, creating safe neighborhoods. 

Quanda Francis – Empowerment Party

Quanda Francis is the owner of financial technology firm Sykes Capital Management. She earned her Bachelor of Arts from New York University (NYU), and has an MBA from Long Island University (LIU). She is currently pursuing her PhD in Information Science at LIU.

Her main goal is to modernize New York City by prioritizing broadband access for all New York City residents and ensuring at least 75% of city government programs can be offered online. She also plans to establish a single online portal for all NYC government internships. Other policy goals include expanding the Summer Youth Employment Program, known as SYEP, such that every applicant is guaranteed a job for the summer. 

Fernando A. Mateo – Save Our City Party

Although Fernando Mateo came up short of winning the Republican Party nomination, the Dominican-American businessman is now running to be New York City’s next mayor under the Save Our City Party.

One of Mateo’s campaigns, known as “Refund the Police,” calls for the reversal of the “defund the police” movement. Under his vision, he hopes to expand the NYPD by hiring more officers, including placing at least two officers in every subway station. With the help of local prosecutors and mental health experts, Mateo also plans to expand services serving at-risk individuals with mental health issues. On the topic of gun control, Mateo believes citizens should be allowed to carry firearms, despite having created the program “Toys for Guns” in 1993 aimed at curbing the number of weapons on the streets. 

As someone who believes “it’s the mom and pop stores that create opportunity in this city,” Mateo is a fervent supporter of small businesses. He advocates for payroll tax breaks and a smaller government presence in business regulation. He plans to work with businesses to increase opportunities for high school students to gain jobs, expanding them from summer programs to year-round employment.  

In terms of public education, Mateo wants to keep the SHSAT, but also wants  additional admissions standards when evaluating applicants. Describing himself as a “victim of the school system,” he is an outspoken proponent of charter schools and a parent’s right to choose where their children get their education from.

Catherine Rojas – Party for Socialism and Liberation

Catherine Rojas is a public school teacher in Queens. She is an avid socialist and the daughter of Colombian immigrants. She describes herself as anti-colonialist, anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist.

She has 14 key policy points, which include defunding the police, promoting immigrant rights, reforming education and increasing affordable housing. Rojas would dramatically increase rent control by requiring landlords to charge no more than 20% of the tenant’s household income. She also promises to stop all foreclosures and evictions along with cancelling rent and mortgages during the pandemic. Her education plan includes introducing an anti-racist curriculum and eliminating standardized testing for K-12 education. For CUNY schools, she plans to make them tuition-free regardless of income or legal residency status of students. Criminal Justice Reform is another major priority for Rojas, who has promised to end cash bail, divest funds from the development of new prisons, and “get the NYPD out of the MTA” by ending tickets and arrests for fare evasion. Rojas also pledges to end raids and deportations of undocumented immigrants and grant voting rights to residents regardless of documentation status. 

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