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 Democrat Maya Wiley.
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 Maya Wiley. Maya, thank you so much for being here.
Maya Wiley: Thank you for having me, Marcia.
Kramer: So let’s get right to it. First question, should you get elected mayor, what would be your three top priorities on day one?
Wiley: Day one starts with spending $10 billion to create 100,000 new jobs. And that’s going to be building things we need built, and fixing things we need fixed. Like more deeply affordable housing, so that people can actually afford the rent.
But I’m also going to make sure we’re creating a universal care plan, because childcare is one of the top three costs of living in the city. But we also have women who’ve lost far too much time and dollars in the workforce, because care is unpaid work. So we’re going to create universal care centers, which will be drop-off centers for child care and elder care, and $5,000 grants for the neediest New Yorkers, to make sure that all of our residents can care for their people.
But I’m not going to stop there, and gun violence is a critically important issue to me. And it’s so critical for all our communities. We are going to focus the police department on keeping illegal guns out of our city and off our streets. But we’re also going to invest in trauma-informed care in our schools. You know, we have to bring violence down and send graduation rates up. And that’s what trauma informed care can do. And our kids are traumatized.
Kramer: So where will the $10 billion to create the jobs come from?
Wiley: So the $10 billion is our capital construction budget. I’m going to double the budget and increase it. That’s smart borrowing that we do. And I’ve stress tested this with economists. Money has never been cheaper, and this is the kind of borrowing that also stimulates the economy, because we’re creating jobs, and that also brings our dollars back to our coffers. So it’s smart borrowing and smart spending that invests in our people and our future.
Kramer: But aren’t you taking on debt service for a long period of time that could affect ongoing budgets?
Wiley: So the short answer is, this is the best time to do this kind of borrowing. And some of this borrowing is already accounted for in the budget because we already have $5 billion of capital construction borrowing. The problem is we don’t spend the money fast enough. So I’m appointing a “New Deal New York” czar, I call my plan a “New Deal for New York.” But that’s someone who’d be a direct report to me that makes sure we’re busting through the red tape of government and getting the job done so people can get back to work and we can build what we need built.
Kramer: Next question, how do you square reducing the size of the police department budget, which has already been reduced by the city with the need to keep the city safe and to end gun violence?
Wiley: Well, first of all, we’ve actually seen that the city hasn’t substantially reduced the size of the New York City Police Department budget. But let’s just be honest: It’s a bloated budget. It’s $6 billion dollars. And Mayor Michael Bloomberg bragged, when he was mayor, that if it was an army, because it’s the size of an army, it would be seventh in the world. That’s not what we need. What we need is to right size the police department.
And I’m going to spend a billion dollars, reallocated from the police department budget, in order to invest in childcare, in order to ensure that people have mental health services, and that we have mental health crisis response. Because what we need in a mental health crisis incident is a professional who has signed up for the job of helping people who have mental health issues, and getting more trauma-informed care in the schools.
And I’m also going to make sure that we’re doubling the number of summer youth employment in communities that have the highest joblessness and hopelessness, because we can’t afford to lose a generation of our kids. That will not happen on my watch.
But we will still have the largest police department in the country after I do that.
Kramer: But if you cut a billion dollars out of the budget, how will that affect the headcount of the NYPD? Will it go down?
Wiley: Well, what’s going to happen is I’m taking it out of the next two cadet classes. And let’s just be very clear: Public safety is job one. And my plan is about directing the attention of the New York City Police Department, about doing its job and doing it well and effectively. But it will also include making sure that we are investing in communities in ways that we know help create opportunities for our kids in the next generation. Because as I said, we can’t afford to fail them. And that’s what we’ve been doing.
Kramer: So that would result in a net loss in terms of the number of people on the force?
Wiley: We will, we will cut the next two cadet classes, but we will still have – we have 36,000 New York City police officers right now. Thirty six thousand. One of the things that I’m going to demand from every single agency of government is effectiveness and efficiency, because that’s something that we must do. And that does include the New York City Police Department. And frankly, it is simply not true that we cannot have, that we have to choose between public safety, or unfair and unjust policing for Black and Brown New Yorkers. We actually can have both. And that’s the balance that I’m going to strike.
Wiley: Well, I am seeking the votes of every New Yorker and I am seeking all the endorsements that are available. And I am going to stay focused on the plans that I have, which are at MayaWileyformayor.com. Because they are going to recover our city, but do it in a way that fixes what’s broken, and makes us more fair and just. And that’s going to include an audit of the New York City Police Department, and what else we need to do to make sure that we’re investing in our people, solving our problems so people can afford the rent, so they can feel feel safe in their streets from both crime and police violence. And so that we’re getting more dollars into the classroom and bringing our kids back from the year that they have lost.
Kramer: So the police commissioner argues that bail reform has to be changed so the judges feel that they can have a way to keep people accused of terrible crimes in jail. I wonder if you agree with that?
Wiley: Well, you know, the interesting thing about this, I’ve already called for this police commissioner’s pink slip, because as we saw, he was congratulating unconstitutional policing. I will not have that in a New York City police commissioner, I will have one that is on mission, and that’s mission for transformation of public safety, keeping us safe, but also safe from police misconduct and abuse in Black and Brown communities.
But the other thing is we have to follow the data. And the New York Post itself reported that the numbers didn’t add up, that the crime spikes we were seeing was not attributable to the people who are being released without bail. And let’s remember who that is. We’ve had people who are accused of nonviolent misdemeanors, not even convicted of any crime, languishing in Rikers, because they don’t have $500 for bail. That’s not justice. And that’s also not safety. And so we’re going to make sure we’re closing Rikers. But we’re doing it in a way that’s responsible and responsive to the needs of our communities and making sure we’re investing in what keeps us safe.
Kramer: So the number of homeless people in New York seems out of control. I wonder what you think the answer is? And do you think that homeless shelters should be put in neighborhoods where the people who live there don’t want them?
Wiley: Well, my Wiley mayoral administration is going to have a housing first strategy. That means we’re going to take these billions of dollars that we are currently spending to house people in shelters they don’t want to be in and make sure that what we’re doing is A) giving them vouchers that actually help them afford the rent. Right now, we have people who have vouchers for $1,200 a month, and if you can find me an apartment that you can rent for $1,200 a month, I’d like to see it. That’s why only 3% of the voucher holders are able to rent an apartment. We get those numbers up, we’re paying for housing, not shelter, and it’s cheaper.
But we also have to have more supportive housing. That means housing with on site services, because that’s what works. And with a vacancy crisis like we have now, I would be leaning in hard, if I was mayor right now, and I certainly will when I am mayor, to make sure that we’re using that vacancy to get folks in homes, but homes with the services they need on site, because that’s what works.
Kramer: No more people who send their kids to charter schools really love them. I wonder what your position is on that, but also, how would you deal with the private Jewish schools that are sometimes accused of not providing the enough secular education to their students?
Wiley: Well, as mayor, I’m going to be highly focused on making sure every last one of our children gets the excellent education they deserve. And that’s going to start with hiring 2,500 new teachers, because one of the things that we have to do is bring our class sizes down.
But I’m also going to make sure we’re taking care of the whole kid. And that’s gonna include trauma-informed care, because our kids are traumatized. That makes it harder to learn. And it makes it harder to do what what they should be able to do.
And I’m going to make sure we have arts education in our schools, not as an enrichment, but actually as a core part of what our schools do. Because I want every single parent in New York City to have the option of a great public school. And that’s what I’m going to work towards as mayor.
Kramer: What about the issue of the secular education in some of the Jewish day schools?
Wiley: Well, look, I’m a civil rights lawyer and a mom. And that means two things. I want every kid to learn. And I’m also going to pay attention to the law. And my job as mayor is going to be making sure that state rules and regulations and laws are followed. And that’s what I will do as mayor.
Kramer: So Maya, what measures would you put in place to ensure there’s no sexual harassment in a Maya Wiley administration?
Wiley: There will be zero tolerance for sexual harassment in a Maya Wiley administration. And we actually have an agency that is responsible for the enforcement of that within city government. We have 325,000 employees and city government, a city unto itself that looks like the city of New York. But what I am going to do is make sure the city Civil and Human Rights Commission has the resources it needs to do both the education that we need done to prevent it in the first place, but also to make sure that we’re enforcing our human rights laws in this city, including when it comes to our agencies and protecting our employees.
Kramer: So you’re talking about a zero tolerance policy?
Wiley: Yep, that’s right.
Kramer: So given ranked choice voting, I wonder who you think your supporters should choose in second place after they pick you in first place? Of course.
Wiley: Well, I have answered this question before and I will answer it again with the exact same answer. I have said Dianne Morales.
Kramer: So we’ve come to the part of our our broadcast that we call “in one word.” So in one word, you’ll fill in the blank. So first of all, in one word, what do you consider your best leadership quality?
Kramer: In one word, friends and family would describe you as?
Kramer: I’m tempted to ask you to tell a joke, but that’s more than one word. What’s your favorite comfort food?
Wiley: Cornmeal crusted catfish with hot sauce. That’s more than one word, but I had to describe it. Now. I’m hungry.
Kramer: Name a unique skill or talent?
Wiley: Critical thinking. Is that that’s two words. Was that cheating, Marcia?
Kramer: No. Okay, I’m giving it to you. You like to do this when faced with a difficult situation.
Kramer: Well, Maya, we’ve come to the end of the day. Thank you so very much for participating in this. I really appreciate it.
Wiley: Thank you for having me. Marcia it was a pleasure. Be well.
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.