Former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr. spent Wednesday evening pitching a possible mayoral bid to the city’s five GOP borough chairmen over dinner at City Hall restaurant in Manhattan. After the meeting (and more on that to come), he spoke with The Daily News about his aspirations, his rationale and the competition. Here are highlights from our Q & A, with my questions paraphrased for brevity:CK: How did the meeting go?
AC: “You know, this is an important conversation in an independent run for the executive position of the city. What we’re trying to do is create a tent that is inclusive, that is about innovation and smart solutions and continuing the success that we’ve created over the last 10, 15 years where we’ve reduced crime, where we’ve been an attractive investment for business and enterprise. Tourism is up — it continues to be up. We’ve made some movement on education reform and we need to continue that and go further.
“But in order to do that, I think that where New Yorkers are is in this centrist, pro-growth [mindset] — this place that, unfortunately, I think my colleagues on the left don’t necessarily represent. But tonight went well, and we had a very good, robust conversation about the future of New York, and that’s what I care about.”
CK: You’ve said you won’t take matching funds. How will you raise money? How much will you need?
AC: “There’s a lot of people who care about the future of American cities and the future of New York, so I think that raising funds for a competitive mayoral candidacy is not impossible. I don’t know how much it’s going to cost, but what I do know is that I should not be burdening the taxpayers with the bill for running for office. And especially at a time like this — we’re seeing cuts in funding to day care and libraries and schools and other essential programs that serve communities. We spent nearly $30 million in the last cycle supporting candidates to run for office. I come from the old school, where you would go out and raise money as best you could and you make your case. And if that makes me old fashioned, I guess I’m old fashioned.” (Note: Carrion is already taking some heat over this - CK.)
CK: The NYC GOP chairmen have interviewed Manhattan Media Publisher Tom Allon, Doe Fund Founder George McDonald and state Sen. Malcolm Smith and now people are talking about MTA Chief Joe Lhota. There’s also a crowded 2013 Democratic field. Where do you fit in?
AC: “Thinking about other possible candidates is really a distraction for me. I know that my brand of leadership, my history, what I can offer the city is right for this moment, and that’s what I need to focus my attention on… I hold a lot of these folks in high regard. I have a lot of respect for Joe Lhota. He’s a friend, he’s a terrific public servant, as are so many of these people. The question is, ‘Are they the right person to lead the city at a time like this?’ And my argument is that I’m the right person for this time.”CK: When did you first start thinking about running for mayor and how did you decide? Was there a “moment” that precipitated your choice?
AC: “I came back home from Washington [after serving as President Obama’s urban czar] and I had every intention [to] start a business… I think the real pivotal moment for me was in the middle of this horrible situation we’re facing [after Superstorm Sandy] and the experience base that I have as an urban planner, somebody who’s been an executive, somebody who has worked with cities around the country and understands their importance.
“I’m there on City Island, getting beaten down by this storm, realizing, ‘My Gd, we have a lot of work to do to prepare ourselves for the future.’ And when you look at the prospects for this continued severity of climate change… we’re going to need to protect the city, to make sure it’s ready for that, and if New York City’s going to continue to be the global financial capital, cultural capital of the world, we’ve got a lot of work to do. And I think I can offer New Yorkers that kind of aggressive pro-growth, heavy investment in infrastructure kind of leadership. I’m very unsentimental about this stuff. I know it creates jobs. And we can have a pro-growth agenda that connects the populace to the growth and creates the kind of opportunity we need to create. That’s all I’m about. I started out my career early on saying — back when I was an independent, before I became a Democrat in 1993 — ‘The best social program is a job.’ And what we need to do is create [and] sustain a robust economy. And I think my experience really lends itself to that.”
CK: How would you work with different political interests to accomplish your goals?
AC: “I go back to this very interesting moment that happened in the last few weeks where the President and Gov. [Chris] Christie come together, not as politicians, not as partisans, but simply as Americans who have serious responsibility about our future… Our responsibility is to ensure that American enterprise and the American way is sustained and succeeds. We pitch that to the rest of the globe… When you peel back a lot of the partisan noise, that’s what’s important.”
CK: What do you say to people who don’t know you, or say you’re just trying to avoid a Democratic primary, or ask questions about the $10,000 fine you paid the Conflicts of Interest Board?
AC: “This is about practical solutions. And I had an interesting conversation tonight about my relationship with the Republicans when I was the chief executive of the Bronx and bringing them into find solutions and to get their support for initiatives we were shepherding in the Bronx. I’ve worked with Republican mayors to solve economic development challenges, to develop housing, to fix the schools. It’s about partnership. And especially at the municipal management level, what people are looking for is solutions. They want to educate their kids. They want to make sure they can run a business, put up a shingle and get a loan and make sure their investment is stable. They want to have a good neighborhood. [There’s] no Democratic or Republican way of picking up the trash. You’ve got to get it done… Our customer is the American people, is the people of New York. If we can’t educate their kids, if we can’t keep them safe in their neighborhoods and their investments safe, we’re a failure… Unfortunately, we’ve lived through some horrible times. We need to ensure that the city is safe, secure, a good investment, works for families and works for businesses.”
CK: After this meeting, what’s next?
AC: “A good night’s sleep. (Laughs.) It’s been a whirlwind 48 hours… but I hope that these political leaders will see the efficacy and the sense of this candidacy. I hope that independent Democrats will do the same — people who are looking for solutions and not just being dogmatic about their party positions… I invite Republicans, independents, Democrats to come together around this candidacy.”Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr., Bronx News, Bronx People, New York City, Politics, Republican, The Bronx, Uncategorized