NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Former Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman and current New York City mayoral candidate Joseph Lhota expressed confidence in his campaign, but sounded a warning for the city, as he spoke out on WCBS Newsradio 880 Wednesday morning.
“All of the great that happened, the foundation that Mayor Giuliani built during his term and that Mike Bloomberg has built on top of that, they’re quite fragile,” he told WCBS 880 morning anchors Michael Wallace and Pat Carroll. “The budget that came out yesterday is a good indication of how fragile our city is.”
“We still have significant financial problems. They mayor has done a great job with it, but there are some looming problems up front,” he said. “There is no collective bargaining in our budget and I think it’s quite unrealistic to believe that we’re going to go four years without any increase for any of our workers.”
He said he supports bringing back the commuter tax on those who work in the city, but don’t live here.
“I think it would help tremendously,” he said, noting that he was deputy mayor when the state Legislature did away with it. “New York City didn’t want it taken away. We went up there and fought it left and right. Quite honestly, we thought it was equitable and fair the people who come to New York City, work in New York City, take full advantage of being protected by the greatest police department in the world and the greatest fire department in the world and we thought it was only equitable and fair that there would be some small little percentage. It was less than one half of one percent.”
Lhota would not back putting tolls on the East River bridges “until we have a better understanding and a better control of all of our bridges and tunnels at the city level.”
He cited the mix of state and local agencies involved and said that “New York City needs to control its own destiny. We need to have it all integrated.”
Lhota’s name, even given his history in New York City, is not nearly as recognizable as that of a candidate like Democratic City Council Speaker and mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn.
“I’m spending every bit of every hour of every day out there meeting people and doing what’s necessary as well as the fundraising that I’m also in the middle of that’ll allow me to also advertise. I will do everything I can to get my name out there. It’ll be out there,” he said. “When I win the Republican primary and I go toe-to-toe with the Democrat candidate, everyone in New York will know who Joe Lhota is.”
He said that while he is a Republican, he does have stances that differ with national Republicans.
“I am a fiscal conservative and there’s no question that I look at our budgetary side of it with great discipline,” he said. “However, I’m quite progressive when it comes to social issues, which is why I think I’m quite suited for New York City.”
On Tuesday, fellow Republican John Catsimatidis, who, like Bloomberg, is a billionaire, announced his candidacy for mayor.