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Mayoral Hopeful Catsimatidis Warns ‘Wrong Mayor’ Could Send City Backwards

Billionaire Businessman: 'I Grew Up In The Streets Of New York'
John Catsimatidis (file / credit: Donald Bowers/Getty Images for New York City Police Foundation, Inc.)

John Catsimatidis (file / credit: Donald Bowers/Getty Images for New York City Police Foundation, Inc.)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)Republican mayoral hopeful John Catsimatidis contends he’s the right person to replace Mayor Michael Bloomberg at City Hall because he has a 21st century vision for the city’s continued growth.

In a wide-ranging interview with WCBS 880’s Steve Scott, the billionaire businessman discussed his vision for the city’s future, weighed in on the NYPD inspector general debate and commented on colleague who was arrested in Tuesday’s political bribery scheme.

“I think New York City is at its crossroads,” Catsimatidis said. “We can go backwards very easily. If we get the wrong mayor and the wrong police commissioner, New York could fall back to the problems it had in the 1980s.”

“Any New Yorker that’s enjoyed quality of life that we’ve had in New York the last 10 years, especially, nobody wants to go back,” he added.

Catsimatidis had praise for Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s tenure leading the city and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly’s job as the city’s top cop.

He also said the fact that he’s not a career politician should not be seen as a negative against him.

“All I’m interested in is going down in the history of New York saying Catsimatidis did a great job like they talk about Mayor LaGuardia doing a great job,” Catsimatidis told Scott.

Catsimatidis recently described himself as not being a ‘Mike Bloomberg Billionaire.’ He said he is not Ivy League educated and didn’t work in finance to earn his fortune.

“I grew up in the streets of New York,” he said. “I clawed my way through New York in the stores, when I had supermarkets, to get where I am today.”

The former head of the Gristedes supermarket chain said he ‘feels the pain’ of store owners in the city.

As for his plans for the city if he wins, Catsimatidis said maintaining the low levels of crime is critical.

Catsimitidis said the NYPD needs to hire more officers “to make sure that crime never increases.” He added that he’d like to see a round-the-clock police presence in every public housing complex in the city.

“Those people have the right to be safe, too,” said Catsimatidis.

He added that he opposes the idea of installing an inspector general to oversee the NYPD. Bloomberg has come out against the idea, but some Democratic mayoral hopefuls are in support of it. City Council Speaker and Democratic front-runner Christine Quinn announced last month that she has a veto-proof majority in support of an IG.

“If a mayor is not confident in his police commissioner to do the job, he should get another police commissioner. You don’t need another level of bureaucracy that will cripple our police department from doing a good job, a great job,” Catsimatidis told Scott.

Catsimatidis knows one of the political officials arrested in the Malcolm Smith bribery scandal from his business and campaigning. He commented on the arrest of Queens County Republican Party Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone.

“I was very, very saddened to hear about it,” Catsimitidis said. “In some of the things he was accused of, he was going against our campaign so I just don’t know what happened.”

Catsimatidis said he did speak to the federal government about the investigation a few months ago but was barred from discussing it.

Some political observers see the battle for the Republican nomination being a battle between Catsimatidis and former MTA chairman Joe Lhota.

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