Kathryn Garcia Is Fine With Second Place

Brooklyn, NY

As they scramble to overtake each other in a crowded and anarchic primary, the Democratic candidates for New York mayor look like a gathering of bumper cars.

As in any amusement park, staying one step ahead of the competition was an inch here: if one day it’s the President of the Brooklyn Borough, Eric Adams, the next it’s entrepreneur and politician Andrew Yang. On other days, Kathryn Garcia, the city’s former plumbing director, and even Maya Wiley, who jumped close to the top of the pile this week, according to confirmation from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, were in the lead.

Viewed differently, no candidate in this perverse mayoral election consistently led in the opinion polls, which this year were aimless, even a little dilapidated. To be fair, pollsters not only have to contend with polling in the midst of a pandemic, but also with the novel form of ranked voting introduced for this election.

How do you make a phone call asking an already impatient stranger – fingers ready to part – who is his second, third, and fourth choice?

In the absence of reliable empirical evidence, the city and its experts have resorted to anecdotes. They are demonstrating (we are told) that Mrs Garcia is the second choice for everyone – except, of course, for their own constituents. A senior official in the administration of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg tells me that Ms. Garcia “has the management to run the city better than Bill de Blasio,” the current mayor. You have “good chances of winning,” he said, “but not in the first ballot. This is one of those times when being second choice for everyone could be crucial. ”

Ms. Garcia is smart enough to support this narrative. She undoubtedly hopes that if they hear it enough, voters will believe it. “I want to be everyone’s first choice, but I’ll take this # 2,” Ms. Garcia told me on a Zoom call from her home in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn. “I think we have strong support from a lot of people across the board. They may have other # 1s, but I’m their # 2. “

It would be wrong to believe that Ms. Garcia is a boring crowd pleaser with slurred views aimed at offending as few people as possible. She has defined clear positions and appears no less moderate and pragmatic than Mr. Adams, who was the fictitious front runner for a good part of the race. As a former police officer, Mr Adams’s net worth fell this week after Politico stabbed him with a story claiming he was alive – gasp! – in New Jersey. Since then, Mr Adams has spent much of his dwindling campaign time convincing people that he lives in a basement in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

Ms. Garcia rejects my request for comment on Mr. Adams’ permanent address. No one can doubt where she lives: her vowels and language are all Brooklyn, as is her demeanor. She scoffs at the idea of ​​exposing the police – “I don’t believe in hashtag politics” – while expressing her dissatisfaction with the New York police: “Their discipline system is just dysfunctional.”

It would lift the cap on charter schools and point out that they educate more than 10% of the town’s children. She points out a charter school in East Harlem that “serves autistic children” and asks why they should hinder their expansion. “They want to open new schools, one in each district. And I’m sorry, I just won’t say no to these kids. ”

Ms. Garcia will not manipulate the city’s specialized high schools – one of which she has attended – and scoffs at Mr de Blasio’s attempt to abolish their current rigorous admissions process in the name of racial justice. She suggests that it be purely a grandstand: “It’s not even a decision by the mayor. It is the decision of the state legislature. “She served under Mr. de Blasio as hygiene officer as well as interim chairman of the New York housing authority and” food czar “during the pandemic. But any respect she once had for her old boss seems to have evaporated. She quickly points out indicated that if she were elected she would “be on time for work” “and not at 11 o’clock”, as she claims Mr de Blasio. “He goes to the gym in the morning. I would go at 5.30 am”

It’s no surprise Ms. Garcia believes it is time for New York to have a wife for mayor. “It’s been 400 years since 50% of us didn’t hold this chair,” she says. “We design teams differently. We have a different lived experience. A woman does not design a “hybrid school” – where children attend classes in person for part of the week and the Zoom school for the rest.

In office, she says, she would emulate her two favorite mayors – Ed Koch and Mr. Bloomberg. “I would combine some of Koch’s enthusiasm with the key data of a Bloomberg. This is really the marriage that I see for myself. ”

Mr. Varadarajan, a journalist, is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and the Classical Liberal Institute at New York University Law School.

Wonderland: Democrats hate talking about law and order. But in New York City’s mayoral election, that’s all they’re talking about. Image: Spencer Platt / Getty Images

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