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In mid-May, this Editorial Board endorsed Kathryn Garcia in the Democratic primary for mayor. Since then she’s made a habit of stating sensible positions with a refreshing bluntness, further cementing our conviction she’s the best candidate to lead the city.
To wit: Most of the Democratic field has taken an appallingly cynical path when it comes to saving the 302 dilapidated NYCHA developments where more than 400,000 New Yorkers live. Only Garcia and Shaun Donovan are backing the model championed by NYCHA Chair Greg Russ, an ingenious scheme that keeps public housing public but allows the authority to raise enough money to cover its $40 billion in unmet capital needs using existing federal dollars. Other candidates talk vaguely about how the feds should shovel new cash in our direction, though such cries have for years fallen on deaf ears.
Meanwhile, Garcia’s housing plan promises a modest-sounding 50,000 new deeply affordable housing units, targeted to people with the lowest incomes. That may sound small compared to Ray McGuire’s pledge of 350,000 new housing units over the next eight years, or Scott Stringer’s promise that if he’s elected mayor, ALL new developments built citywide would have to set aside 25% of their units as affordable. But Garcia’s pledge is realistic — not a number plucked from thin air that sounds good just because it’s big.
So too, her just-released $3 billion jobs plan, rolled out Thursday, is smartly targeted at connecting vulnerable youth with gainful employment without busting the budget.
Garcia hasn’t hesitated to say she’d lift the cap on charter schools, the right thing to do even if it’s anathema to the powerful teachers union. She’s got a track record of achievement on climate protection, but wouldn’t fix her name to a wildly unrealistic climate pledge many other candidates signed on to.
Some hear Garcia’s direct, throat-clearing-free answers to tough questions and conclude that she lacks political gravitas or finesse. We hear the same answers as proof of a mayor in the making.