Mayor Bill de Blasio has spent too much on the wrong things, not enough money on the right things and has let quality of life slip in the city as he played New Yorkers “for fools.” That, in a nutshell is the argument that Republican mayoral front-runner Nicole Malliotakis will take to voters this fall.
Appearing on the Max & Murphy podcast on Friday, the Staten Island Assemblywoman said the budget has grown too large under the Democratic mayor and promised cuts (“It has to be cut back. There’s too much bureaucracy”) but also faulted de Blasio for not devoting city capital funds to repair the subway system’s aging signal technology.
Broadly, she blamed the mayor for what she feels is a rising tide of civic disorder—in particular, people defecating or urinating on or in subway cars. She continued to focus on a short list of offenses that, unlike crime overall, have increased in frequency during the mayor’s term, like sex crimes. She suggested the recent decision by a judge to release a mentally ill man this week was indicative of the mayor’s laissez faire attitude to crime, although she acknowledged the mayor didn’t appoint the judge or have anything to do with that particular decision.
Where she sounded most confident was on her own ability to tap into a sentiment of dissatisfaction with the mayor: “Everywhere, I’ve gone to this city—and I’ve gone to areas that are Democratic areas where you wouldn’t think a Republican candidate would be received well—we’ve been received well. People are excited for my campaign. … Some people are just desperate for change. People are not happy with the job this mayor is doing. He has failed them. He has shown a lack of respect for the taxpayers. So we’re going to win this election.”
In a mayoral race that’s still getting up to speed, Malliotakis articulates the vague case against de Blasio that has percolated since the moment he took office: that he’s an aloof manager out of touch with New Yorkers and willing to sacrifice the city’s public safety and fiscal health to wrong-headed progressive ideals. When it comes to specifics, on issues like the mayor’s affordable-housing, Malliotakis has yet to offer fully formed counterpoints.
On the issue of immigration enforcement, Malliotakis downplayed her call last week for the city to honor all federal detainers—even those for non-felonies—and hand over undocumented immigrants who’ve been arrested or jailed and have a conviction of any sort on their record. Asked whether deportation seemed a proportionate punishment for people convicted of trespassing or low-level drug possession, she said, “I’m really not like looking to go after people who have committed those low-level crimes. … I’m not looking to deport somebody for fortune telling. … Those lesser crimes, I’m not looking to have people deported for that. My main focus is getting this mayor to comply with detainer requests for those crimes that I have mentioned,” like sex abuse, drunk driving, welfare fraud and identity theft.
“You should ask the victims of crimes—of sex abuse, patronizing a child for prostitution, drunk driving if someone was killed by a drunk driver—if those are serious crimes. And I think they would side with me,” she said. “We’ve always had a sanctuary policy in this city going back to Ed Koch. I’m fine with that; I would continue that policy,” she said, referring to a ban on city employees asking crime victims or witnesses about their immigration status. “What I do not accept is what this mayor is doing with individuals who are committing crimes such as sex abuse, grand larceny, patronizing a child for prostitution, drunk driving, identify theft, welfare fraud. Those to me are serious crimes. And we shouldn’t allow them to continue prey on immigrants—other immigrants—and citizens.”
Mallitotakis, who said she planned to spend the weekend studying up on crime policies, insisted she’d have the resources to compete with de Blasio—who announced that he’d raised $700,000 in the fundraising period that closed this week.