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Tech entrepreneur and one-time Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang on Thursday made his first public appearance as a candidate to replace Bill de Blasio as the next mayor of New York City.
Yang, surrounded by supporters and his wife, Evelyn, their two young sons Christopher and Damian and freshman Rep. Ritchie Torres, launched his mayoral bid at the entrance of Manhattan’s Morningside Park.
“I am so thrilled to announce to you all that I am running for mayor of New York City! New York City is the greatest city in the world!” a beaming Yang declared.
The announcement, first revealed Wednesday night, comes on the heels of Yang acknowledging that he and his family spent the harshest months of the COVID-19 pandemic in their second home in upstate New Paltz, a luxury unavailable to most New Yorkers.
Still, Yang, 46, said he has called the Big Apple home for the last 25 years and first moved to an apartment at West 118th Street and Amsterdam Avenue when he was “fresh out of college” in 1996.
“My life’s defining moments all happened right here,” said the math-education boosting businessman, who founded the nonprofit, Venture for America.
“It is here in New York City that my passion for uplifting people, for wanting to move our country forward got started,” Yang said, adding, “I am running for mayor for a very simple reason – I see a crisis and believe that I can help.”
Yang spoke of the devastating impact that the COVID-19 pandemic — which has killed more than 25,000 Big Apple residents — has had on the city and Gotham’s road to recovery.
“The inhumane economy that we have all been struggling to survive in has become more punishing during the pandemic,” said Yang. “The problems of poverty and economic insecurity that we have faced for decades have now been strengthened and magnified, and New York City has become the front line for our nation’s struggles.”
“We need bold ideas and a fresh approach to revive our city. We need to look forward and adapt to the economic challenges of today and the future. We also need a city government focused on competence and delivering for our people every day,” Yang continued.
The local-government neophyte then took an apparent jab at de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo and their ongoing public feud.
“We need to break away from the politics of old — you know what I’m talking about — where we are fighting over who is to blame and who failed to deliver, when in reality the people have been losing and it is tearing our city apart.”
“We need to rebuild New York, not as it was, but as how it deserves to be and that is my pledge to you as mayor — a positive vision for New York City and the rational, progressive plan to implement it and make it reality,” Yang said.
Yang, who as a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination promised a $1,000 check per month to every American adult, spoke of anti-poverty programs, including “cash relief” for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, the launching of a “people’s bank,” and the need for a “fact-based government that puts results over politics.”
“We need to make New York City the COVID comeback city, but also the anti-poverty city,” he said. “As mayor, we will launch the largest basic income program in the history of the country, right here in New York. We will lift hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers out of extreme poverty, putting cash relief directly into the hands of the families who desperately need help right now.”
Yang explained that he would focus on reforming the criminal justice system, bringing down crime, improving the city’s school system and tackling “our mass transit mess.”
“I will build bus rapid transit networks like the 14th Street busway in every borough,” said Yang, who vowed to regularly get around by subway, bus or bike as mayor and work to implement a fully electric bus system by 2030.
“Building this forward-thinking transit network will require municipal control of the city’s subways and buses,” he said. “As mayor, I will fight to get control of our subways and buses so we can control our own destiny.”
The MTA is state-controlled and taking city control of the transit authority is seen as a long-shot proposition.
Meanwhile, the policy proposals rolled out by Yang had few details about a myriad of pressing issues confronting the Big Apple.
The city’s embattled and scandal-rocked Housing Authority faces a $40 billion repair bill, and Yang’s platform includes no specific plan for addressing the crisis in public housing or to pay for the mountain of needed repairs and renovations, only saying on his campaign website: “As we work to engage in the necessary repairs to our public housing, the Yang administration will invest in innovative solutions to create affordable housing across the City.”
On another page of the website, Yang calls for City Hall to create $3.4 billion in “Borough Bucks” — a currency for NYCHA residents to pay for “childcare, home health care, and other services.”
According to his website, Yang promises to help subsidize rent for resident artists in buildings and “work to attract content creator collectives, such as TikTok Hype Houses, where young artists collaborate.”
Yang’s platform makes no mention of the city’s $3.8 billion deficit, but he pledged to create a new cash benefit for the city’s poorest residents that would cost $1 billion.
Yang, who Board of Elections records obtained by City & State show that he has never once voted for mayor, joins a mayoral race field with more than two-dozen candidates — including City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, former top de Blasio adviser Maya Wiley and former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia.
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