NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — CBS2 is holding in-depth conversations with the 2021 New York City mayoral candidates.
We are asking each of them the same questions, so you can compare.
The order was chosen at random.
Here’s Marcia Kramer’s interview with Republican Fernando Mateo.
Marcia Kramer: From ending gun violence to recovery from the pandemic, the next mayor of New York City will have a lot on their plate. We’re speaking with each candidate in an in depth conversation to see where they stand. We’re asking each candidate the same questions, so you can compare. Joining me now is candidate Fernando Mateo. Mr. Mateo, thank you so very much for joining us.
Fernando Mateo: Thank you, Marcia.
Kramer: First question: Should you get elected mayor, what would be your top three priorities on day one?
Mateo: Public safety. Backing up and supporting our men in blue, men and women in blue. Second, is our economy and our small business. And third is making sure that our youth 14-18 years old, have a part-time job all year round, after school.
Kramer: How would you do that?
Mateo: Those would be my three initial goals.
Kramer: How would you provide those jobs?
Mateo: Do what, which one of them?
Kramer: How would you provide the jobs?
Mateo: We would make, we would make, we would engage corporate America. We would ask and make sure that every New York City agency provides opportunities for those youths, as well as engaging with every small business in New York City, offering them tax breaks, payroll tax breaks. The same way Amazon was offered tax breaks, payroll tax breaks. I believe that our youth is our future. And that’s what we have to make sure we bring up and we we guide in the in the right direction.
Kramer: So tax breaks in exchange for providing jobs for young people?
Mateo: Payroll tax breaks. If small businesses participate in the program, they will get it. If corporate America participates in that program, they will get it. And every city agency, we will have it mandatory that they offer positions to our kids, and our children, after they come out of school. That is correct.
Kramer: So I wonder how you square reducing the police budget, which New York City has already done, with the need to keep the city safe and to end gun violence?
Mateo: I would not defund the police. I would make sure that they are refunded every dime that was taken away. And I would look to add more to our NYPD. I would try to make sure that we have enough funding to have two police officers on every MTA platform 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
We need to make sure that our citizens feel, feel safe going back to work. We want to make sure that our tourists feel safe when they’re in the city. And I will do everything it takes to make sure that our streets are safe. And that I support, and that I lead our NYPD with support and with dignity. Because these are men and women that work very hard and are not recognized for the hard work that they do and are oftentimes spat at, water’s dumped on them. There’s no respect for law enforcement officers. And I will not tolerate that in a Mateo administration.
Kramer: Do you think that the budget cuts exacerbated the violence that we are seeing now in the city?
Mateo: No, what exacerbated the violence is poor leadership. What exacerbated the violence was Mayor Bill de Blasio turning his back on our men and blue. Our leadership in this city has really ruined everything that we had going. We had 20 years of, of a great, of great Republican governance here in New York City, when we had Giuliani for two terms and Bloomberg for three. We lost all of that in the last seven and a half years. And we need to bring it back. We need to bring back that Republican leadership. That’s what the city needs.
Kramer: So would you cut the budget more if you got elected, the NYPD budget?
Mateo: Absolutely not. I would refund it. And I would add to their budget to make sure that our citizens and our tourists and anyone that comes to New York feels safe.
We have a unique situation right now. Our offices are reopening, our businesses are starting to reopen. But people don’t feel safe getting to and from work. And that is a problem. That is a problem that was created by our mayor, because his lack of leadership and his lack of backing up the men and women in blue has created a disrespect for our law enforcement like I’d never seen in the 61 years that I’ve lived in New York, which is basically my entire life. We need to bring that respect, that dignity back and we need to not only refund our police department, but we need to add to their budget, because no city that’s not safe – people will not come to a city that’s not safe. A city that’s not safe is a city that no one wants to come to. So we need to address that ASAP. Day one in my administration, that’s what we are going to address immediately.
Kramer: So Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has said that a prerequisite for getting her endorsement is to cut the NYPD budget by $3 billion. Would you want her endorsement?
Mateo: Well, first of all, I don’t want her endorsement. I am not a socialist. I am a capitalist. This is not a city that fits her mold. How she got into office, I have no idea. But from bartender to congresswoman – only in New York. Only in New York does that happen. And shame on her for shaming our men and women in blue. I would like to see who she’s going to call when she’s getting robbed or mugged or, or assaulted. I’d like to know who she’s gonna call when her relatives need police assistance.
Everyone needs to understand: We have a city that is the greatest city in the world. We are the financial capital of the world. And we have no law enforcement in New York City. Our district attorneys have dropped the ball. Our judges have no common sense lately. I don’t know what is going on. You get caught with an illegal gun in the street, ready to use it. And you’re released from jail a few hours later. That’s unheard of. If you break the law, under my administration, you are going to pay the consequences. There’s going to be no privilege here for anyone that breaks the law. There’s no such thing as privilege for a law breaking individual during the Mateo administration. Not gonna happen.
Kramer: So the police commissioner says that bail reform has to be changed so that judges feel that they can find a way to keep people accused of terrible crimes actually in jail. Do you agree with that?
Mateo: Bail reform needs to be totally reformed. Bail reform should have been there for those that commit misdemeanors, nonviolent crimes, crimes that don’t really require for you to go to jail. Bail reform is the one of the biggest problems that our city has. That’s why our crime rate is so high. There’s no need to allow our justice system to fail. Because our legislators, our politicians, the bureaucrats, our government, has allowed for there to be bail reform for those that don’t deserve it. Of course, there are some people that don’t deserve to go to jail for jumping a turnstile. But that’s a quality of life issue that needs to be addressed as well. You know why? Because if you commit small crime and get away with it, sure enough, you’re going to commit bigger crimes, thinking you’re going to get get away with it as well.
We need to bring our city back to when Rudy Giuliani was the man, when Mayor Bloomberg was the mayor. That’s when cops and our law enforcement officers were respected. And that’s when we felt free to go out in our city. We don’t feel free anymore. It’s like we’re prisoners in our own homes. It’s like small business people are terrified to open and close their stores, at any hour of the day.
We are going through a very, very bad pandemic. And it’s not COVID. The biggest pandemic we have, it’s called Bill de Blasio. That’s our biggest pandemic. And we need to get rid of him and make sure that another Democrat that thinks like him does not get elected. We need law and order. We need Republicans to come in and fix things because that’s what we do. We fix things. We don’t let things fall apart. If you look at the last 50 years, and you look at the Democratic governance of New York City, the mayors, you’ll see how high crime spikes. And when a Republican comes in, how low it goes. We need to make sure that our people, that our city is safe, and I will work my butt off to make sure that that happens.
Kramer: Mr. Mateo, the number of homeless people in New York City is really out of control. I wonder what you think the answer is and, as a corollary to that, I’d like to ask you if you think that shelters should be put in residential areas where the neighbors don’t want them?
Mateo: Homeless is a crisis, but it’s a crisis that was created and worsened under Bill de Blasio. You don’t put people in neighborhoods that they’re not wanted. Because not only is the neighborhood upset, but the homeless people are also upset because they know that they’re not wanted in that area. So you’re putting two people at odds. You don’t want to do that.
We have plenty of space in New York City to build respectable housing, to build respectable shelters, to build mental health facilities and food banks. And you know what those places are? I’m going to tell you, so that every other candidate could maybe copy me and get it done if I can’t get it done. And that is, let’s visit our industrial parks. We have industrial parks in the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island and Brooklyn. They – no one lives there. You can build respectable housing for our homeless people there. And you could bring public transportation into those areas. So those homeless people that need to get to and from work, to and from school can do it in a respectable way. I think we need to respect the homeless because they’re not homeless because they want to, a lot of them have mental health issues. And those issues need to be addressed. Because when I walk by a person that’s homeless, I turn around, because I don’t know if they have mental issues, and they’re gonna hit me with a brick in the head. So I walked backwards for a few 100 feet, until I know, I’m clear to move forward.
We shouldn’t have to live like that in New York. It was never like that. We need to stop it. We need to use common sense. We need to go to the areas where we’re not bothering anyone, and where they will enjoy being. We can be build recreational areas for them in industrial parks. Let’s address the issue. And let’s investigate where the billion dollars that Chirlane de Blasio got from the city to make sure that the homeless people weren’t in the condition that they’re in. Under my administration, I will launch an investigation. And I will need answers, and want answers as to what happened to those billion dollars.
Kramer: People who send their kids to charter schools really like them. I wonder what your position is on that? And, as a corollary, how would you deal with private Jewish parochial schools, who often don’t provide the secular education they’re supposed to?
Mateo: I believe in that parents are the ultimate guardians of their children. Parents should have the right to carry a voucher and send their kids to whatever school they choose. Why? Because I dropped out of school at 14. Because I was a victim of the school system. I know what goes on in public school. And it’s not fun. When your sneakers get robbed, when your coat gets robbed, and you go home without a coat and barefooted, because some bully took your sneakers and your coat away. I believe that parents should be able to decide where their kids are going to go to school.
And with that, I will certainly accept as many charter schools as possible, because they’re providing better education. I would accept Catholic schools, private schools, and for those Jewish families that believe that their children are getting the right education. Well, let it be. Who are we in office to tell a parent what they must, what they can or can’t do with their children? I think that that is invasion of privacy. Parents should have the right to make sure that their kids get the best education possible.
And one of the things that I would consider doing and possibly do as well, is make sure that every kid going to a New York City public school goes with a uniform. Go to the poorest countries in the nation, and I will use Haiti as an example, and the Dominican Republic and Jamaica, and all these different countries, kids go to school with a uniform. They do that for one reason: To make sure that there’s no competition, other than who is going to study the hardest to pass that next test. Shouldn’t be competing, about who’s wearing Gucci, or Louis Vuitton or Chanel sneakers, or a Gucci coat or, or stuff that some can’t afford and others can afford. I think that it’s ridiculous that we don’t have uniforms in our schools, because that would make it so much better and easier for the parents and the teachers because kids will be focused more on education and less on styling themselves before going to school.
Kramer: I wonder what measures you would put in place to ensure that there’s no sexual harassment in your administration?
Mateo: Well, I would also, I just want to add one last thing, I would also add another 80 to 100 vocational schools in New York City, because not everyone is going to want to go to college and be a doctor or a lawyer or an accountant. You know, there are kids that can be plumbers and electricians and carpenters. And I will work closely with the unions, so that we can build great, the best vocational training schools, so that our kids can have an opportunity to earn a great living if they don’t want to proceed to college. Right now, we’re doing a disjustice to our kids. When I was 14, and I dropped out of school, I went to flooring school, and I learned how to lay floors. And I became a multimillionaire, because I had great skills. And I was the best at what I did. I want to offer that to all the kids in New York City schools as well.
Sexual harassment. I’ve always believed that wherever there is sexual harassment there’s lack of leadership. You need to have and set an example. You need to lead by example. Your commissioners, your deputy mayor’s, you need to make sure that they are people that have integrity. Consensual dating? That’s fine. Consensual sex? That’s fine. As long as people do it consensually. But sexual harassment has no place in our workplace, has no place in the city of New York, and certainly doesn’t have any space in corporate America. So that’s how I would address, I would communicate, I’m a communicator, that’s what I know how to do.
I’m not an angry person. I’m a passionate person, I believe in our city. And I believe in the structure that I can bring to the city. And I know that when I am sworn in January 1, 2022, a lot of people are going to feel a sigh of relief, because I will get rid of small business’ worst enemies, which are every city, New York City agency. I will make sure that they follow the rules and regulations to allow small businesses to succeed, not to fail, because they’re the real job creators. It’s the mom and pop stores that create opportunity in this city. And we need them. We need them and I will make sure that they have the best city in the world to do business with. I will reach out all over the world. And I will ask other countries, business, small business people to come to New York and invest here, to take the risk here, because I will be their insurance policy, I will make sure that they succeed.
Kramer: So who should your supporters choose, given ranked choice voting, as in second place?
Mateo: They should select Fernando Mateo first place and Fernando Mateo second place and Fernando Mateo, third place.
Kramer: Okay, so we’re going to go to a segment that we now call “in one word.” So in one word, I want you to answer the following questions. First of all, what do you consider your best leadership quality? One word.
Mateo: My integrity.
Kramer: In one word, friends and family would –
Kramer: In one word, friends and family would describe you as?
Mateo: A leader.
Kramer: What’s your favorite comfort food?
Kramer: Me too. Name a unique skill or talent?
Kramer: You like to do this when faced with a difficult situation?
Kramer: Thank you very much Fernando for joining us today and I really appreciate it.
Mateo: Thank you Marcia.
You can watch our New York City mayoral debate with leading contenders on CBSN New York and on CBS2 hosted by Kramer and Maurice Dubois on Thursday, June 10 at 7 p.m.