Kathryn Garcia, the city’s sanitation commissioner, food czar and former interim NYCHA chief, has resigned from working for the current mayor with an eye on becoming the next one.
On Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio moved to rework some of the drastic budget cuts to the city’s Sanitation Department earlier this summer, announcing a budget reallocation that would put 65 more litter trucks on the street—a 24 percent increase in service.
On Friday, his Sanitation Commissioner and go-to fixer, Kathryn Garcia, will leave city government, partially in protest of those cuts to her department.
On Wednesday, Garcia spoke to WBAI’s Max & Murphy Show about her departure, the state of sanitation in the city, her time as food czar and interim NYCHA chief, and the other reason for her resignation: her contemplation of a run for mayor.
Garcia told the show that COVID-19 is why she’s considering joining a field that includes Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, former housing commissioner Shaun Donovan, Council Speaker Corey Johnson, nonprofit executive Dianne Morales, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, former veterans commissioner Loree Sutton and one-time mayoral counsel Maya Wiley – some of whom have formally announced their runs, while others are still exploring.
“I will say that it actually is mainly driven by the pandemic. I am not sure that I would have gotten in if I didn’t think the city needed a crisis manager at this point, who would be really focused on core services for city residents,” she said. “There’s also a point when so many people were sick and so many people in my agency were sick, where it makes you really rethink what you want to do with your life, in a way. It’s like, are you doing something important now? Not at some point in the future, but are you doing it now?”
Garcia emphasized her management expertise, and critiqued the way the city is now managed. “We aren’t as transparent as we should be about our key performance metrics. The mayor should know at the end of the day, did we have a good day? Did we have a bad day?,” she said, adding: “And some of the bureaucracies—I would restructure, and consolidate and streamline.”
As to the budget cuts, Garcia said what business leaders have been saying in recent weeks: “The city can’t rise again if it’s not safe and clean.”And she indicated that the mayor might not have been able to hear her strong objection to the DSNY reductions during the budget process.
“The the challenge, I think, is that often the agencies are not in the room when the mayor makes the decision,” she said.
Hear the full conversation below: