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PODCAST: We Talk to Maya Wiley, Candidate for New York City Mayor

March 21, 2021 By Christian Murray

The race to be the next mayor of New York City is heating up and last week we talked to one of the candidates–Maya Wiley.

Wiley will be competing in the Democratic primary on June 22 against Eric Adams, Scott Stringer, Andrew Yang, Shaun Donovan, Kathryn Garcia, Ray McGuire and Dianne Morales—among others.

She comes to the race having spent 30 years as a civil rights attorney and having held senior positions in City Hall—such as being Counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio between 2014 and 2016. She was the former head of the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board, a police oversight agency, and was a professor at the New School and a MSNBC commentator.

“I’m running to make sure we have a city where we can all live in dignity,” Wiley says in the podcast. “We have been devastated by COVID– economically and emotionally–and we must all come together.”

During the interview, she talks about how there is a need for a “moral budget” and also outlines her plan to get the economy up and running again. She also discusses the Amazon deal and says that the company’s decision not to open a headquarters in Queens was a big loss to New York City.

Wiley said that she plans to spend $10 billion on capital construction with the goal of creating 100,000 jobs. She says that the city would also aim to hire people from communities hard hit by COVID-19– such as the residents of southeast Queens.

She says in the podcast that the budget will need to be cut, but says she would not cut quality-of-life services. For instance, she would not make cuts to trash collection and other sanitation services.

“We have fat in the budget that can be cut— but we have to pay attention not to cut essential services to our people,” she said.

She said the police budget can be reduced, which she noted has steadily increased over the years.

Wiley said in the podcast that the NYPD performs functions that it is not best suited to handle. She said savings, for instance, could be found by having mental health professionals deal with New Yorkers with mental health issues as opposed to the NYPD.

The mayoral candidate also discussed Rikers Island in the podcast and said that it needs to be shut down, saying that the facility is inhumane. She is a proponent for borough-based detention facilities but noted that they must not be traditional jails, which she says are havens for violence.

She said that the new facilities need to be more supportive of the inmates and protect their human rights–while at the same time ensure public safety.

During the podcast, Wiley said that the city missed out when Amazon decided not to open a second headquarters in Long Island City.

She said that there was some accountability in the proposed deal. She noted that Amazon had to actually hire people to get the public money– a point that was lost on some people. She said that they were not going to get the tax breaks on a mere promise of jobs.

Wiley said that she would have adopted a transparent and principled approach when the deal was announced and would have brought all the parties involved to the table.

She said a whole host of factors would have been discussed–from jobs, schools, environmental sustainability–to whether the subway system would be overwhelmed.

She said not everyone got their say and the community missed out.

“I don’t think we heard all the voices,” she said. “The residents of Queensbridge saw it as a lost opportunity.”

Wiley addresses many topics in the podcast. She talks about how she plans to double the size of the summer youth employment program to combating gun violence.

Should Wiley win the mayoralty, she would be the first woman and second Black person—after Mayor David Dinkins– to take office.

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