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Maya Wiley Has Surged in NYC Mayoral Campaign Following Endorsements From Notable Progressives

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 02: New York City Mayoral candidate Maya Wiley speaks to the media on June 02, 2021 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Wiley, a civil rights attorney who worked as Mayor de Blasio’s legal counsel before her run, is running as a progressive in the current field of candidates for the Democratic candidate for mayor. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

As a native New Yorker, this 2021 mayoral campaign has been stressful to watch. Even though I was aware it was happening, it seemed to come out of nowhere and featured a wide cast of candidate characters, many of whom seemed plagued with scandals and problems that ballooned day by day.

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Of all the candidates, Maya Wiley has been the one who has stood out the most to me, and she was just endorsed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Julian Castro, and Elizabeth Warren. With that kind of endorsement from the progressive wing of the party let’s ask: who is she, where does she stand on the issues, and who is she running against?

Maya Wiley is the daughter of civil rights leader and academic George Wiley, who founded the Syracuse chapter of Congress of Racial Equality and a founder of the National Welfare Rights Organization. But the best endorsement is that he was on the masterlist of Nixon’s political opponents. That is the environment that fostered Maya Wiley, but as we know that doesn’t always translate into good politics. Thankfully it has in this case, since Wiley has worked for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Open Society Institute.

Here are Wiley’s policies and goals on the key issues affecting New Yorkers right now:

Police reform:

  • Create real oversight and address police violence at its root and before it happens.
  • Rewrite the rules of policing and reimagine the job so police officers focus on problems they can help solve.
  • Create real and meaningful accountability and consequences for all forms of police misconduct.
  • Bring the NYPD budget in line with our values and priorities.
  • Fundamentally shift policing and public safety to a focus on the root causes of crime.
  • Renegotiate the contract between the City and Police Benevolent Association (PBA) to end the union’s oversized influence and the Department’s evasion of accountability.

Housing:

  • End the cruelty of street homelessness and radically decrease family and single adult homelessness.
  • Make affordable housing truly affordable.
  • Keep public housing public.
  • Maintain and expand homeownership and wealth-building in communities that have been left out.

Evictions:

  • Advocate at the state and federal level for a strong eviction moratorium long enough to ensure that we have averted an eviction crisis that would have otherwise triggered a wave of homelessness stemming from the pandemic.
  • Work with state and federal agencies to fund an ongoing moratorium that recognizes that it has economic consequences.
  • Clearly communicate an eviction moratorium timeline so that people have stability and the ability to plan.

Jobs:

  • Establish a Works Progress Administration-style infrastructure, stimulus, and jobs program that invests $10 billion in providing a shot in the arm of our City’s economy–putting residents back to work and investing in the future of our communities.
  • Create up to 100,000 new jobs for New Yorkers, including 30,000 that will employ artists, construction, technology, and engineer workers, along with approximately 70,000 indirect jobs for childcare workers, librarians, home healthcare workers, and manufacturers.
  • Fund social infrastructure priorities to build a climate-resilient city, invest in NYCHA, modernize physical and digital infrastructure, and fund arts and culture.
  • Target and expedite job creation by implementing policies that promote local hiring, especially in communities of color.

Watching the candidates speak at the National Action Network forum, I found that Wiley gave the strongest answers and that combined with her endorsement from AOC has led her to be the main competitor to Eric Adams. Adams is seen as the current leader in the race and has overtaken Andrew Yang. New York City is in a unique place where all three leads are people color and the top two are Black people.

Still, I have found that after this past presidential election I am not interested in false representation. I want candidates that align with the progressive politics I believe in and have roots in the communities they are trying to protect. So let us see what exactly Adams and Yang are bringing to the table.

Eric Adams is a born and raised Brooklynite and as his many ads have told him, he was arrested for criminal trespassing and while in police custody, he was beaten by NYPD officers until a Black cop stopped it. This motivated Adams, according to him, to enter law enforcement so that he could aid reform from within. He was a part of the New York City Transit Police until it merged with the NYPD properly and was a Republican until 2001. He was previously Brooklyn Borough President and has been vocal against stop and frisk and critical against the police department’s actions. Back in 2009, Adams was one of the 24 state senators to vote in favor of marriage equality in New York State.

Here are his plans for the same issues:

Police reform:

  • Adding Black and Brown officers who will respect and protect New Yorkers.
  • Appointing the city’s first woman police commissioner.
  • Making it easier for good cops to identify bad cops–and publicizing the list of cops being monitored for bad behavior.
  • Empowering communities to have a say in their precinct leadership.

Housing:

  • Up-zone wealthier areas where we can build far more affordable units.
  • Repurpose city office buildings and hotels for affordable housing.
  • Think big by thinking small and add basement apartments, SROs and other small units.
  • Provide homes and help for the homeless and those struggling with rent.

Evictions:

  • When New Yorkers fall behind on rent – as many have during the pandemic — their options to get help involve navigating a long trail of red tape and bureaucracy with the City’s One-Shot Deal and CBO’s rent relief programs. It is demoralizing to endure multiple long application processes while facing eviction. Rent relief programs need similar information from applicants such as amount owed, proof of residence, and a summary explaining the situation. The City can create a common application for those in need and allow approved CBOs access to the information. It will also allow an applicant to go to one place to see the status of their various applications for help with paying back arrears.

Jobs:

  • Providing direct cash assistance to New Yorkers through my NYC AID program.
  • Offering subsidized or free childcare to any New Yorker needs it.
  • Creating an unprecedented effort to place New Yorkers in new jobs.
  • Investing significantly in green jobs, including renewable energy production and transmission, building retrofits, infrastructure improvements, and a booming wind power industry.
  • Growing the life sciences industry here with incentives and changes to our land use and buildings rules.
  • Attract start-ups and new investment with incubators and programs linked to CUNY, offering tax breaks and cheaper space.

Eric Adams says, “If we are for SAFETY – we NEED the NYPD!” and “As a former police officer who stood up against racism and corruption in the NYPD while simultaneously protecting our streets, I know how entrenched systemic bias is in the department. The fastest way to true reform is to add as much diversity to the NYPD as fast as we can, while building trust through transparency.”

On paper, I think that Adams has a track record of being on the right side of topics, but I will admit, I am wary of someone from within the police system trying to be in charge of fixing it. As the “tough-on-crime” candidate, those words have notoriously been a dog whistle for the issues that allow police to be hyper-vigilant in Black and Brown communities.

Adams is also facing pushback for disputes about if he actually lives in Brooklyn, or in a co-op in New Jersey. But let’s go on to Yang.

Andrew Yang is an American businessman of Taiwanese American heritage who truly made national attention during his 2020 Presidental run. That name recognition helped at the beginning of his mayoral campaign, but he’s had several hiccups that have made him drop in popularity. His clumsy tweet about the Israel-Palestine conflict, the accusation that he pulled a Ted Cruz and fled from the city during the pandemic, trafficking in Asian stereotypes, and his inability to name a single Jay Z song when asked.  Here are his policies.

Police reform:

  • Make the NYPD entrance exam permanently free: A Yang administration will no longer charge a $40 entrance fee for the NYPD exam. If you want to take the test, your ability to pay will not be a deterrent.
  • Aggressively recruit prospective Black, Latino, Asian American, Jewish, Muslim and women to join the ranks: New York City needs its force to look like its city. Under a Yang administration, the NYPD will recruit diverse officers with language skills, cultural competency, community relationships and a commitment to transforming their neighborhoods and preventing crime.
  • Make Executive Order 67 permanent, and set a goal of 50% of the officers in the upper ranks of the NYPD to be people of color: On March 31, Mayor De Blasio issued Executive Order 67, requiring the NYPD to interview at least one underrepresented candidate for every senior officer position. A Yang Administration will make this Executive Order permanent and move towards the goal of 50% of officers in the upper ranks of the force to be people of color.
  • “[…] good police officers need to feel supported. Violent crime is rising, as are certain hate crimes, and we need officers to protect against any further increase. As such, it isn’t enough to solely penalize officers engaged in misconduct. Officers are frequently put in traumatic situations and the City must ensure they feel supported after appropriately responding to dangerous incidents.”

Housing (There is a lot here so here are some):

  • Invest $4 billion annually on affordable housing.
  • Launch New Housing New York 25 (“NHNY25”), creating at least 25,000 new deeply affordable units, inclusive of supportive housing, using existing hotels that will not reopen.
  • Ease Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADUs) Restrictions.
  • Make it Easier For New Yorkers to Find a Rent-Stabilized Apartment.
  • Provide a Pathway for Home Ownership for Renters

Evictions:

  • Focus on eviction protection and keeping people in their homes.
  • Reduce the length of stay in the shelter system by one-third in a year. Length of stay in shelters has increased by 76 percent since 2010 to an average of 431 days. Many individuals remain in shelter who could live independently if affordable housing existed.
  • Reduce the overall population and rate of return to shelter by 30% within two years.
  • Double the number of homeless outreach community centers so that New Yorkers have more immediate access to get food, clothing, internet access, showers and social services instead of living on the street and subways. Our centers will serve as a form of community outreach to the city’s homeless population to help create trust and connection that will make the city’s efforts more effective and compassionate.
  • Manage oversight and coordination better between the eleven agencies that touch housing and our hundreds of homeless service providers.
  • Turn Covid Rent Relief Into a Renter’s Stimulus.

Jobs:

  • Expand protections and opportunities for freelancers.
  • Create a Freelancer Hub in all five boroughs.
  • Create a Universal Portable Benefits Fund.
  • Buy regulated hardware – such as outdoor heaters – in bulk, and then sell them to local businesses.
  • Support Cinch Market and other local e-commerce efforts to compete with Amazon.
  • Allow for land swaps and pop-ups throughout a neighborhood.

Yang is a businessman and while we have had businessmen in office, I’m not very confident in Yang’s ability to run New York.

This year New York City has ranked voting and I am hoping that will encourage people to use their first pick to vote radically and with their actual ideals. Too often we hyper-focus on the safe choice only to be left feeling very unsafe.

Right now, my vote is for Wiley. But there is time to do your own research and figure out who you want to be leading New York City. And for non-New Yorkers wondering wtf they should care—well, it is the most populous city in the United States and if it were a country it would be the 11th-biggest economy in the world so, who runs it matters.

(image: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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Princess Weekes
Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.

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