How Maya Wiley Would Run New York

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HOWARD WOLFSON: Maya Wiley, welcome. I thought we'd start at the beginning. Tell us a little bit about your background and why you're running for mayor.

MAYA WILEY: I am a Black woman raised by parents who were active in the civil-rights movement. My father was at the forefront of the economic justice movement — fighting for and with Black women who were on welfare for dignity and for enough support to feed their families, shelter their kids. Having grown up in a Black neighborhood, gone to a segregated Black public school that was overcrowded and underfunded, watched my neighbors be displaced when rents went up and they couldn't afford to pay them — all this shaped my career.

I have spent my adult life as someone who has fought for racial justice as a civil-rights litigator, someone who has lobbied Congress on health-care reform and ending racial disparities, someone who had the opportunity of founding a not-for-profit organization called the Center for Social Inclusion with a baby in a bouncy seat. Because Chinatown and the Lower East Side, two communities of color, were going to get cut out of the catchment area for federal dollars to rebuild after Sept. 11, I was prompted to start the center and join a group of leaders who started calling structural racism “structural racism.”

I also had the privilege of being the first Black woman to be a counsel to a New York City mayor, believing that city government is the level of government that can change systems so that they start working for everyone. Having seen the proof points of that, I felt called into the race because Donald Trump was attacking everything we've been fighting for and building, dividing this nation much more deeply along racial and class and gender lines. In this city, we were not immune. We had the pandemics of an affordability crisis that was displacing people the way I saw my neighborhood displaced when I was a kid; we have the most segregated school system in the country, like the segregated school I attended as a kid; we were seeing a rise in hate, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, anti-immigrant violence, and now anti-Asian hate. This was its own pandemic before Covid. And then Covid strikes and rips the curtain back. George Floyd is murdered.

And once again, we are reminded of who gets hit first and hardest and how much it affects all of us, every single one of us, no matter who we are. For me, it was a call to say “Enough,” and that if we are going to truly cure what ails us, we're going to have to recognize that this pandemic is the third pandemic, not the first pandemic. In recovering from it, we can and should be re-imagining the city, so we're really fixing what's been broken, using this crisis to recognize a historic opportunity to start doing things differently so that the city remains diverse, dynamic, creative, artistic, amazing and with room for everyone.

Or we can continue to lose that and lose our people. I'm running because I spent my career stopping that from happening. And I believe I'm in the best position to pull people together to be transformative and to do it in a way that creates more dignity for every single New Yorker.

HW: You come from a family that was deeply involved in civil rights and advocacy for the poor. Talk a little bit more if you would about your parents and how they influenced your path and your thinking.

MW: My mother and my father were amazing people. They both passed away. My mother was this White woman from Texas, from a racist town raised to believe in the inferiority of others by her community, not necessarily by her parents, but certainly by the community around her. And she fled it. She challenged it — just had a moral grounding and intelligence and a tenacity that made her question it her whole life, debate her family at the dinner table. As a White woman in the 1950s, she got herself a scholarship at Union Theological Seminary and came to New York City, went straight to Harlem, went straight to doing work for young women and girls in East Harlem, went straight to joining the civil-rights struggle. My father was a Black man who got a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Cornell University in 1957, and came from a long line of firsts from humble beginnings, from a fiercely devout family that instilled the values of service.

My parents met at Syracuse and founded the Congress for Racial Equality chapter there. We moved to New York City when I was a baby, lived on the Lower East Side in a Mitchell-Lama apartment because James Farmer, the storied civil-rights leader, asked my father to be his No. 2 in the national office at the Congress for Racial Equality. We grew up in D.C. because my father left to start the National Welfare Rights Organization, putting Black women on welfare at the helm. My family and the tradition of my family, both my parents, is that people who were impacted by the problems have got to be seen as the experts, as integral to deciding how they are solved. I was raised that way. But I was also raised with this deep abiding moral code that starts with the fact that both my parents grew up in very religious households. My parents taught us and modeled that to those who are given much, much is expected, and that, as Shirley Chisholm said, service is the rent you pay to be on this earth. But that service has to be transformational. For my parents, that was challenging root causes, but doing it side by side with the people impacted by it.

At a time when the term “intersectionality” didn't exist, my father was an intersectionalist. He saw women, Black women, as being central to leadership in the struggle. He saw race and gender and poverty as problems that had to be solved together. That meant multiracial coalition-building with women at the forefront. My mother was the breadwinner who went to work to support the family so that my father could do the organizing. And that's the household I grew up in.

HW: I've heard you speak about losing your dad when you were very young. I'm wondering if you can talk a little bit about that, as painful as I'm sure that it is.

MW: It is painful, but it's also something we've always talked about. One of the amazing things about my mother was her understanding of psychology. She believed that we had to talk these things out. So she always encouraged us to talk about it. I'm happy to because I also think it's important for people to understand that trauma is something that's a common experience that we have to pay attention to and solve for, and that there are solutions, because we're in a traumatic time and we have to recognize how traumatized people are.

My dad lived a very full life. He was 42 when he died, but he died the way he lived, which was embracing life to the fullest and squeezing every ounce of juice out of it. And the ounce of juice that he was squeezing out — that actually caused his death — was, you know, we always wanted a boat. We didn't have a lot of money. But my father found this secondhand boat on the Chesapeake. We lived in D.C. And so I remember we drove out and it was this adventure and this vacation with our dad that my brother and I — I was 9 and he was 10 — were going to have with him. This was a treat because the thing about organizing is it doesn't have office hours and he worked 24-7, and time with him was precious. And so it was very special.

The other thing about my dad and my mother was they taught us to do for ourselves. We were expected to be independent. So we picked up the boat. It was just a little beat-up cabin cruiser, nothing fancy, nothing large — to us kids, it was a yacht. As soon as we got on it, he started teaching us how to drive it and how to drop the anchor. The idea was we’d sleep on the boat and then drive it down the Chesapeake to the Potomac, where he was going to keep it. And it was rough weather. My father had very little fear, which is part of why he did so many fearless things. But we undertook that journey and waters were rough.

My brother was driving the boat. My father was cleaning off the windshield. These boats have very narrow passages. It's just a little area where you have to shimmy from the bow to the stern, from the front to the back. And it has these metal handrails you have to hold onto and kind of shimmy, because it's only like 6 inches’ worth of plank for you to slide front to back on. And my father was a big man. He was 6’ 3” and over 200 pounds and not a small guy.

And as he was doing that, the handrail that he was holding gave way and he fell backward into the water. He happened to be a very strong swimmer. So it took a long time, but he drowned and it was very painful because we were trying to save him. And we had to figure it out, not only did we have that experience of losing him, but we had to figure out how to get home. We were out in the middle of the Chesapeake. We didn't know where we were. We headed the boat into shore because we saw people on a beach.

So here we are, two little kids, and the first thing you start to think about is, This is bad and we have to figure it out. My brother and I weren't talking about it. We were just doing. I know we were — I certainly was, and I think he was — just in that mode of “we have to survive.” We're literally in a situation where we might not. When you're a little kid and you're seeing a parent die — which is not something that's supposed to happen to you, right? — there's nothing in your mind that says, “I could lose a parent before I'm a grown-up.”

That's its own devastation. And you can't quite process that it's not supposed to happen and you can't quite believe it's happened. At the same time you're grappling with, “We could die. We're not supposed to be out here alone on this boat.” And our mother's in another state. This was 1973; there are no cell phones. So we turned the boat into shore and anchored it as close as we dared, understanding we couldn't drive the boat up on the beach. And there were swimmers in the water and we had life preservers on, and we jumped off the boat and were screaming and yelling for help. And all these White people just looked at us, looked at us, said nothing to us. Didn't ask us what was going on.

So we made our way to houses on the beach and started knocking on doors. One door, a person answered and just said they couldn't help. Another door, no one answered. Third door, a man answered and immediately embraced us and called the police and asked us what happened. It was this loving and wonderful man who did exactly what you would expect someone to do. But it's like that next layer of trauma where people won't help you and you're just two little kids and it doesn't really have to dawn on you intellectually. It was because you're not White.

HW: It's a devastating story on so many levels. And I'm wondering how, not only do you process the trauma of the accident, but the fact that you arrive at a beach full of people and they are indifferent to your suffering, except for one person — is the takeaway that there is at least some glimmer of goodness in a dark moment? Or is it the reverse?

MW: It's that humanity suffers and it suffers from deep illness. Racism is a deep illness and some folks are sick and don't know it. They don't know or understand that they're sick. Some people know they have the illness; they don’t think of it as an illness, right? Some people don't understand how much they are acting out what society has taught them, and their inability to see the illness is devastating to everyone.

I am reminded of that horrific video we just saw of the Asian woman viciously attacked on the street. They don't see her suffering. They don't intervene physically. That guy closes the door of the building he's standing in front of while she's laying on the ground. I experienced that — I know what that's like, right? Not that I had a violent experience, but that's an illness that is its own pandemic. It doesn’t mean everyone suffers from the illness. It doesn't mean everyone is unable to see humanity. The police officer who showed up as a result of that call on the beach was a young White man who was wonderful to me and my brother. It wasn't that he was even the only one. But this is one of the reasons why I have always believed in what my parents taught me, which is, This is why we have to reorganize society.

This is why integration matters because honestly, we can't see each other as human. We can't connect to one another when we have no experience with one another. My mother was raised to be sick but she inoculated herself.

Part of the hard work on this planet, in this country, in this city, is to recognize we can't countenance racism. We can't countenance a society that structures in a belief system and the stereotypes that somehow people are naturally violent or naturally lazy or naturally any of the other stereotypes that we have. But we also have to recognize that not everyone holds those beliefs, and that's the opportunity. And so for me, it's what my parents always taught us: It is both. The world is a complicated place. It's not a fair place and your job is to make it fair.

HW: Let's bring us into the present moment. Can you talk about what you would do to help the city recover from Covid, what you would have done differently if you were mayor during the last year and what we would do going forward under your administration?

MW: Let's start with the fact that we are navigating an historic crisis on top of a history of crises we haven't solved. We have a real spiritual exhaustion, one that predated Covid because we were experiencing an affordability crisis in the city. We were experiencing our own crisis of systemic racism. We were experiencing the deep distrust and anger at the New York City Police Department. We were experiencing deeper divisions and distrust of our own city government while we were at war with the federal government. All that predates the pandemic, and then the pandemic happens and rips that fabric even further.

I think the first thing is to recognize that we have to restore trust in government. There are a lot of things I'm going to do. But it does start with how we do it, because part of restoring trust in government, part of solving some of the divisions, is by naming the challenges and pulling people together to work on solutions.

But let me tell you what the solutions are. I start with solutions that I, as mayor, can accomplish. I name them intentionally because there's so little trust in government. I can do this without agreement from Albany or dollars from D.C.

One is “New Deal New York.” We know how to recover from crisis. We did it with the WPA in the Great Depression. We did it coming out of the Great Recession with President Obama's recovery act and stimulus. We can do this in New York with our own resources, with our capital construction budget, which means building stuff we need to build and fixing stuff we need to fix. The game changer here is not only that doing this will create 100,000 new jobs, which we desperately need, and stimulate the economy; it's that we can also do it better than in the past, by focusing on how we identify and fast-track and create new projects that solve the underlying illnesses, too.

So that's affordable housing with deeper levels of affordability. If you're a home health aide or a teacher or a sanitation worker, or any of the other valuable roles and functions we have in the city, you should be able to pay the rent. We have the ability to put money into making our public housing safer and more dignified — and that means $2 billion focused on renovation and rehabilitation. We're going to have a New Deal czar who's going to report directly to me because a big part of government being more effective for its people is being more efficient, is cutting through the red tape and the ridiculous bureaucracy that prevents good things from happening.

In my experience as counsel to the mayor, and as someone who had the opportunity to do this on broadband access, on women- and minority-owned business contracts, on sanctuary city legislation — it's being the senior person reporting directly to the mayor who says, We're going to get this done. We're going to come to the table. If you've got real problems, I will throw my body at them. If you've got people coming for you, trying to prevent you from doing it, I will throw my body in front of them and I will take the blows.

And if you're telling me “it's not the way it's done,” I'm going to challenge you to get it done and hold you accountable and help show you the way. The trust part of that is not only getting government to partner with itself and having accountability in a senior cabinet position — it’s partnering with community leaders, with people who are impacted to identify what's going to work and how it's going to fix things, so that there's more voice at the table. When I travel across the city, I hear it from everyone: Part of the reason we have this distrust, part of the reason we have this sense of “it can't be done” even though it can, is because so often people aren't consulted. We're not taking advantage of the incredible knowledge and know-how and creativity and innovation we have in community and in people and in the private sector as well.

HW: You talked about working for Bill de Blasio as his counsel in the first term. You have been critical of him during the campaign, saying that he didn't lead effectively. I'm wondering what your overall view is of his time and tenure in office.

MW: I was really grateful for the opportunity to serve in City Hall, because city government, the magic of city government, even though it can be a very hard place to work — the magic of it is just how much it touches everyone's lives in this city. And there was so much that we did that I'm very proud of, and I think that the city celebrates, like universal pre-K. It was phenomenal to be on a team of really smart, committed people with a mayor who set that vision and who made sure it got done and got done in a year. Or ID NYC, which was critically important, both as a great thing for all our residents and as something that provides protection and services to our residents, for the undocumented. Paid family leave. So many things to be proud of that we got done the 2 1/2 years I was in City Hall.

At the same time, I think we have to be honest with ourselves when we can do better. This summer, I was demonstrating along with other Black Lives Matter demonstrators, showing up to put my own feet in the streets for more justice, more safety, more investment in communities of color that are overpoliced, because we have real solutions. And I was horrified to see videotaped violations of people's constitutional rights and have a police commissioner praise it. We saw a siege of over two dozen riot-geared police officers, military-grade equipment, helicopters overhead at the apartment of a Black Lives Matter activist without a warrant because two months earlier he used a bullhorn at a peaceful demonstration. I think we have to call that out because we can't ever stand by and tolerate that anti-democratic, authoritarian, unconstitutional treatment for folks who are actually using their constitutional rights to call attention and serve up and petition government, which is fundamentally what demonstrations are. It's a mission of government to recognize a deep problem that ails us and to step up to that, and Dermot Shea [the police commissioner] needed a pink slip. And I said it.

HW: Is that a failure of management on the part of Mayor de Blasio?

MW: As mayor, I would have a police commissioner whose mission was protecting and serving and being accountable to the public. And I think as soon as Dermot demonstrated that that was not the commissioner he was going to be, I think it was important to get rid of him and get a police commissioner who was going to be on the same mission. That's what I would have done.

HW: There's another issue of public trust that you have been outspoken about recently, with regard to Governor Andrew Cuomo. You've reiterated your call for his resignation. Why do you believe his behavior warrants resignation at this point?

MW: I'm calling for his resignation because we’ve seen a pattern of abuse of power. I'm not a politician. I don't come from a political machine. I've never run for office before. And that's the point. That is why I'm running, because part of what we need is a different kind of leadership. And it's one that recognizes that an election fundamentally is an ask for permission to borrow the power of the people, to protect and serve them, the people. The governor, unfortunately, has demonstrated a pattern of behavior that is fundamentally an abuse of that power for self, for protecting himself in the context of nursing home data, from believing his needs were more important than respect and dignity for the autonomy of women, including very young women who worked underneath him. It is a pattern of behavior that demonstrates personal interests above public interest.

I think we deserve to have a higher level of integrity in office, and I can't in good conscience be a person who sat at MSNBC talking about Donald Trump and his misogyny, talking about Brett Kavanaugh, talking about the incredible way in which we have undermined and eroded democratic norms and not call it out when I see it in our own state and in the most powerful position in this state.

HW: You talk about misogyny and seeking a different kind of leadership. New York City has never elected a female mayor or a female governor. Are the hurdles for women higher here?

MW: I think that the statistics speak for themselves.

HW: Why do you think that is? What has your experience suggested to you so far?

MW: I am very grateful and proud of the work of the New York City Council and bringing democratic reforms like our public financing law. I'm participating in one of the most amazing and generous public financing programs of elections in the country, thanks to the New York City Council. And that kind of democratic change, structural change, is a game changer for opening up opportunities for people who don't traditionally run for office. The traditional way anyone has a real shot at running for office and winning is to be given permission by the powerful, who far too often have been men, and particularly White men. We have a long history of that in this city and in this country. It's not just a New York City phenomenon.

So these kinds of reforms that are structural in terms of elections — and I also co-chaired, you know, the ballot initiative for ranked-choice voting, which I am a big proponent of, because I think it's another democratic reform that opens up opportunities for more people to run who do not come from a political class that has for far too long been a closed class, almost a caste system in elections.

I don't want to suggest that we have had no change before these laws were passed, but it hasn’t been sufficient. I think these structural reforms were critical. The reason you see more nontraditional candidates running is because we have opened up these opportunities. Certainly as a Black woman, and as someone who is unapologetically a Black woman, I can only do what Shirley Chisholm advised when she ran for president of the United States in 1972, which was basically, Be you. Run unapologetically.

I thought Christine Quinn, though, named it right. Really named it and with great bravery and honesty when she said she felt when she ran in 2013, just 2013, that she had to be someone different from who she was — not a woman, not a lesbian, not all the different parts of herself — because that was seen as not something that would be winning. And I think her honesty and callout of that was an extremely important statement. And I feel that, and I understood when I undertook this that people were going to tell me I was not qualified, even though I am the only candidate who has served in the senior cabinet inside City Hall and run an agency, New York’s Civilian Complaint Review Board, and co-chaired the School Diversity Advisory Group. And despite all of that work, all of the management it requires to start and run a not-for-profit organization that everyone tells you as a Black woman — naming structural racism — you'll never get a dime for, and that you cannot possibly start and run it for 12 years as a national organization, that those things are questioned and don't count in the same way. But if I had started a startup company that failed, I'd be a manager.

HW: Let me follow directly on that, the failed startup. You have accused Andrew Yang in particular of failing upward. Can you talk about what you meant by that? And I'm wondering if you think a woman with his resume would be a credible leading contender for mayor.

MW: Let me say this: The Andrew Yang statement, I made directly in context to what I thought was an incredibly reckless statement that lacked compassion and also understanding of government and how it works. He said that the mayor should sock away the relief funds coming from Washington for the purpose of relief, in a city where we have over 2 million people going hungry, as many as 600,000 facing eviction, and a mortgage crisis for homeowners greater than we had in the Great Recession. Misconstruing the fundamental purpose of these funds, and also the way city government works, which is the funds are not all spent immediately, demonstrated a lack of compassion and a lack of understanding of government.

I think it is important to call it when we see it on the substance when we see that kind of cavalier behavior in the midst of this kind of crisis. And yes, I believe that it is incredibly important for all of us to be very honest about what this crisis and this moment calls for and to call out what it means to be qualified for it. I can't say how people would respond to a woman who had started a startup and not been successful.

HW: I understand the specific, but when you accuse somebody of failing upward, it's about more than their position on any given issue. It speaks to your view of their background, resume and qualifications.

MW: I'm running for mayor not because I want the accolades and not because I am a politician. I recognize in this moment that it is critically important to have the skills, but also to feel the pulse of the city and understand what the job takes. I sat in that very hot kitchen and I know what it's like to try to cook in it. I am going to make sure that I'm being as explicit as possible with the people of this city about exactly what that mission will be for me and exactly why I'm the person who knows how to manage the change we need.

HW: What kind of manager would you be as mayor?

MW: This is how I managed inside City Hall and got things done — like getting every single apartment in Queensbridge Houses free broadband, well before Covid, and laying out a plan to do that in more public housing — by recognizing it's a team effort and that you have to have the smartest and most qualified folks in all our important positions. You have to listen to them. But there’s also listening and learning from people who are impacted by the problems, from people who have know-how and expertise around those problems, all coming together, but doing it in a way that makes sure it's everyone at the table.

One of the ways I did this was on broadband. I recommended to the mayor, and he agreed, and allowed me to pull together a broadband task force, which had everyone from Fred Wilson, Rudin Management, to Girls Who Code, Silicon Harlem and the Red Hook Initiative. We had community-based community builders. We had not-for-profit leaders. We had the private sector, we had venture capital. I had them all at the same table. And I brought the agencies together because, as you know, we don't have an agency called the Agency for Universal Broadband. It was not something the city had ever done before. So I had to bring together — I had to, I loved it, I enjoyed it — four different agencies to get it done. That's the kind of leader I am. I'm collaborative. I love working with teams. And having a table that is set for everyone. I am not shy about making decisions. But they're informed decisions that are principled.

HW: You've called for higher taxes on the wealthy. Obviously you're aware that we've had folks leave the city over the last year, people who learned that they could work remotely. Given that challenge, does raising taxes on upper-income earners still make sense?

MW: Yes, it does. First, we are in an historic crisis and it's an all-hands-on-deck moment, and we need everyone who's committed to New York City to bring what they can to this moment and to this table. And there are lots of people who bring so much. I watched restaurant owners who were shuttered, making not a dime and not having much sense of how they were going to stay in business or whether they would stay in business. And they were feeding the hungry. I saw people showing up at food pantries, despite the pandemic and fear and risk of illness, in order to help get folks fed. And I know that is also true from folks who are wealthy in this city who step up in crisis.

I talk to everyone, and I believe in talking to everyone, and I have had folks say, “Forget this. I'm not coming back.” I've had people who said, “I'm not going anywhere. I'm all in. And I will pay more in taxes.” I've had people say, “I understand this moment. I am willing. I never lived in New York because it was cheap. It was always expensive, but Maya, nobody ever asks what I can do. No one ever asks what I think. I feel like a pariah. I'm willing to pay more if there's a clear plan. If it means that our quality of life is going to get better, if it means our schools and our public transportation system will get better, then I'm in, but I need a plan.”

And I say, “That's fair.” We've also seen people relocate to the city during Covid. And we shouldn't forget that. The tech sector group actually added jobs during Covid, and people moved into the cities for those jobs. So I think what we have to recognize and acknowledge is, the fear is real. And certainly there are people who have left and may not come back. There are others who will come and we have this incredible moment to recognize that everything is changing because technology was already bringing about this paradigm shift. Covid fast-tracked it. Now what we have to do is partner with the private sector, partner with folks around our growth sectors. I think about the Bloomberg administration and the wisdom of bringing Cornell Technion to New York in order to solidify the growth of the tech sector in the city.

That's the way we have to look at growth opportunities. I know that in the private sector, there is a real discussion going on about what workspace looks like and how it continues, recognizing virtual is going to be a bigger reality, but also recognizing that we still have to have face time. There are opportunities even in this crisis to partner around how we reshape in a way that also creates a healthier, more diversified economy that's benefiting folks. The private sector is trying to figure it out. We should be trying to figure it out together.

HW: You talk about quality of life and concerns about quality of life. Murders were up 40% last year; it's up 10% this year. We've seen some horrific violence against members of the Asian-American community and others. Is this still the right time to be cutting money from the NYPD, or do we need to rethink some of our assumptions around policing?

MW: There has never been a more important time to continue to transform the New York City Police Department. And it is because of what we're seeing in these rises of crime. Let me explain why. Because with every single agency in this city, we have to talk about how to be more effective and efficient, right? Because we're going to have budget cuts. We are; let's just say it. We are going to be in a better situation because of what the federal government has done. And I think there are ways in which we can improve our own outlook. As I've said, with my plan, like New Deal New York, ways we can stimulate the economy that'll help bring more revenues into our coffers, but we're still going to be cutting.

We still face real fiscal challenges. I'm going to be the mayor that's going to ask every single agency to bring me PEGs [Programs to Eliminate the Gap] of 3 to 5%. Now, when I'm going to look at those PEGs, I'm not just going to say “OK” and just do a chopping off the top without any thinking of what a moral budget looks like and a strategic budget, so that we are cutting fat and not bone.

The police department is not exempt. It's one of the fattest departments we have, and frankly, if we're going to be more effective and efficient, what we're going to realize is what the facts are: that we've made it easier to get a gun than a job in the city, and the pandemic made that significantly worse, where we have unemployment rates as high as 50%, if you're Black or Latino and aged 18 to 24. That's a pandemic of its own. We have failed to provide trauma-informed care. And we forget that some gun violence is about mental-health issues. We know this from our “violence interrupters,” our crisis mentors who prevent gun murders from happening by finding the source of the fight and the dispute and intervening, mediating and connecting folks with services. That's been effective at reducing violence but we don't talk about it as much because it's harder to talk about the murder that didn't happen than the murder that did. The opportunities to invest in the very things that make us safer and more healthy are right in front of us. It is researched and fact-based.

I am going to take $18 million from the New York City Police Department budget to put it into trauma-informed care into schools, starting with the schools in areas with high rates of gun violence. We know from the research that gun violence actually reduces academic performance. Even if you are not the victim of the violence, it affects you. The second thing is that when you do trauma-informed care, you bring violence down 50% for those who've had the care and you increase graduation rates by 20%. Now, to me, that's effective and efficient. And frankly, policing does not prevent that, right? So what we have to do is recognize there is a role for police. We have to reorganize and reorient it to where we need the policing.

And we have to recognize that we should not spend money paying for the police to do functions that reflect a mental-health crisis. A student support function, investments in job creation and workforce development — those things increase public safety, reduce violence, and also help people support themselves and their families, and brings more resources into our coffers. So what I say is this is actually the perfect time to get it right, and to improve relationships between the police and the community, because the community is actually getting investments they desperately need, and we're not asking our police officers to solve social problems. And we're certainly helping them help participate in solving them rather than causing them by policing poverty.

HW: We're roughly three months out from the election. Tell us your path to victory.

MW: My path to victory is uniting the city, building the coalition that is both a coalition we need to recover and reimagine our city. It's also a coalition that wins elections. It is Black, it is Latino and Asian. It is progressive of all races and women of all races. That is the path that's also an incredibly important and massive part of the city. And I'm just really humbled and honored and excited that that coalition is coming together, because I think there is a deep thirst for transformation that is a unifying one that calls us together, and I'm seeing that path and feeling it.

For more interviews in this series, click here.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Howard Wolfson has worked in New York politics for nearly 30 years and served as a deputy mayor to Mike Bloomberg from 2010 to 2013. He is currently a senior adviser to Bloomberg, the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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