April 21, 2024
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Q&A With Kathryn Garcia, Candidate for Mayor of NYC

In the NYC mayoral primary that is thick with proposals and posturing, there is a candidate who professes to know firsthand the nuts and bolts of how to successfully manage many of the basic services upon which New Yorkers rely. She casts herself as a crisis manager and a “no-nonsense doer.” Heading the NYC Department of Sanitation for much of the last decade, that candidate is Kathryn Garcia.

Garcia, 50, began her career in public service as a 22-year-old intern in the Department of Sanitation. After attending college at University of Wisconsin at Madison, she worked at Appleseed, a nonprofit.

Growing up as “a white kid in a multracial household” in Park Slope, Brooklyn, Garcia, a lifelong New Yorker, took her first high-profile governmental position under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, as chief operating officer of the NYC Department of Environmental Protection. More recently, Garcia served as the sanitation commissioner, most recently under Mayor de Blasio, overseeing an agency of over 10,000. She stepped down recently to run for mayor.

During the pandemic, the mayor tasked her with overseeing the emergency food program and she managed the delivery of millions of meals to city residents in need. She also served as an incident commander during Hurricane Sandy, and previously led a project to protect children from lead poisoning in public housing.

The Jewish Link spoke with Garcia on Friday, April 30. Portions of that brief interview are presented here.

The Jewish Link: What steps do you propose to revive the local economy and bring jobs to the city?

Garcia: “We need to make sure that New York City is a livable city, so it attracts people to live here and to visit. One of the ways we do that is to better support small businesses.” Garcia proposes a one-city-permit program, as opposed to the current situation where a prospective new business owner must go to eight agencies to get approvals. Garcia also advocates for 0% interest micro-loans for small business, the reform of concession permits, an expansion of child-care, building a more pervasive broadband network, and greater city support of STEM education and arts & culture venues.

The Jewish Link: What would you do to promote greater acceptance and participation in COVID-19 vaccinations?

Garcia: “We need statewide coordination of this effort, so we’re better focused on what still needs to be done. We have the data; we just need to apply it to (for example) reach the homebound elderly and disabled and their caregivers. We also must work more closely with community based organizations, like churches and synagogues, and deploy ‘pop-up’ vaccination clinics to reach more people.”

The Jewish Link: What is your response to criticisms of the lack of comprehensive secular education in right-wing Jewish schools in NYC?

“The majority of our city’s parochial schools, including yeshivas, are providing a strong educational foundation for children whose parents do not want to be in a traditional public school environment. But it also means that we need to work closely with the yeshivas to ensure that we’re using every tool so that people have access to every resource and educational service possible.”

The Jewish Link: The State of Israel has been a role model for the world in many areas, such as tackling terrorist activity and demonstrating proactive vigilance. What would your administration do to learn from Israel’s experiences? What sort of exchanges do you propose?

Garcia: “Israel is ahead of us on managing water resources, they are really cutting edge. We can learn from them. On the tech side, their work in cybersecurity is great: they understand technology and how it can be used. New York City is the 4th largest trading partner with Israel and we can build on that. We’re seeing more Israel-sponsored companies in the city. We of course want more.”

Regarding her views on Israel, Garcia stated in a mayoral candidate questionnaire published on the UJA-Federation of New York website: “I have already publicly stated numerous times that as Mayor, Israel will be on my short list of places to visit. Not only am I unequivocally opposed to the BDS movement, but as mayor I look forward to expanding opportunities for economic partnerships and knowledge sharing between New York City and the State of Israel.”

By Harry Glazer

 

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