By Jorge Fuentelsaz
New York, Feb 11 (efe-epa).- New York Mayor Bill de Blasio will end his term in office this year and some 30 politicians, activists and businesspeople have already fixed their sights on his office, and the race has only just begun.
“It’s the biggest city in the country. It’s a city that has a profile on the international level both in the communications media and in the financial industry. I don’t like to say this, but the reality is that it’s the capital of the world, so it’s in a position that elevates the profile of its mayors,” John A. Gutierrez, an assistant professor at John Jay College, City University of New York, told EFE.
But this glamorous role of directing the economic and cultural center of the United States also has a complicated flip side of governing an urban area of more than eight million residents with serious structural problems of a shortage of housing and public transport and with social and racial inequalities, which have been aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic, which in turn has added more complications to the equation such as increasing local unemployment and gun violence.
According to Gutierrez, “historically, it is said that the second hardest job in US politics after the presidency is being mayor of New York.”
But the race is still in its very early going, with the primary elections scheduled for June 22 and the mayoral election itself for Nov. 2.
Although, obviously, De Blasio’s replacement will not be known until Nov. 3, all eyes are on the June primaries in the Democratic and Republican parties, which at that time will select their respective candidates.
With New York a Democratic Party bastion, where – for example – Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden beat President Donald Trump with 76 percent of the votes, many say that the mayoral race will be won in the primaries, with the Democratic contender who emerges on top being a virtual shoo-in to the mayor’s office.
Among the huge number of mayoral hopefuls, about a dozen names stand out.
The current president of the borough of Brooklyn, Eric Adams, 60, is one of them. A former police officer and state senator, he was the first African American to lead Brooklyn, where his eight years at the head of the local government garnered him the support needed to make the attempted jump to the New York City mayor’s office.
Scott Stringer, also 60, is the current New York City comptroller and another veteran politician who, Gutierrez said, has significant support in Manhattan and good ties with the city’s key economic sectors of finance and real estate.
The former state housing secretary, Shaun Donovan, 54, is another of the candidates who is well positioned in the race, and Gutierrez emphasized his “technocratic” profile but said he doubted that he has a large enough popular base to emerge on top in the race.
Maya Wiley, 57, an attorney, activist and former advisor to De Blasio, is one of the candidates with more options in a race where there are several women hopefuls, including psychiatrist and retired military officer Loree Sutton, 61.
The significant size of the Latino and African American communities in boroughs like The Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn makes them key constituencies if a candidate wants to win one of the primaries.
Diana Morales, 53, of Puerto Rican origin, is one of the Latino aspirants in the race along with Carlos Menchaca, 40, who has Mexican roots and is one of the youngest candidates.
Both also represent the leftist wing of the Democratic Party, and Gutierrez said that their programs are perhaps too progressive for the Big Apple’s Latino community, especially for the older cohort who “are looking for stability and not radical ideas.”
Apart from the veteran officials and activists who hope to gain the support of voters this spring, there is a handful of candidates coming from outside politics who have been making their mark in the electoral battle.
Among them is the former US presidential hopeful Andrew Yang, 46, and the former vice president of Citigroup, Ray Macguire, 64, who are the ones who seem to be best positioned and also have personal fortunes with which to jumpstart their campaigns.
Yang, who surprised observers in the Democratic presidential primaries, has shown himself to be very able to attract potential young voters via the social networks.
Although whichever Democratic candidate wins the party primary clearly stands the best chance of winning the mayoral race, there are Republican hopefuls in the mix, too, including former Wall Street executive Sara Tirschwell, 55; the founder of the Guardian Angels citizens’ patrols, Curtis Sliwa, 66; and the head of the New York Federation of Taxi Drivers, Fernando Mateo, 63.