Andrew Yang to Goldman Sachs: You Think Tampa Beats NYC?
(Bloomberg) -- New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang, who garnered name recognition during his presidential run, said he was “depressed” after a Goldman Sachs executive confided in him that the bank was opening a branch office in Tampa.
Yang said reversing an outflow of businesses and talented workers from the city will be key to reviving New York City’s economy and re-establishing the city as the world’s financial capital, along with the vaccine drive and controlling the pandemic.
“We are losing people to Tampa?” said Yang, during a one-hour interview on Wednesday with Bloomberg News editors and reporters. “It’s a depressing story.”
Goldman Sachs has looked at potential space in the corridor north of Miami that covers Palm Beach County and Fort Lauderdale, Bloomberg has reported. Its leaders have no intention of leaving New York, a spokeswoman said Wednesday evening.
Yang said he’s the best choice to be the city’s next mayor because he’s “not a terribly-ideological problem solver” who just wanted to get the work done. He also trumpeted his close ties to President Joe Biden and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
“People don’t care about excuses or politics, they just want a service that’s delivered in the way that it’s promised,” he said.
Yang, 46, grew up in Westchester, New York, the son of Taiwanese immigrants. He came to New York City as a 21-year-old law student at Columbia Law School and worked at tech companies before launching in 2011 a nonprofit called Venture for America, which provides entrepreneurial business training to recent college graduates. He rocketed to fame in 2019 with slogans like “Make America Think Harder (MATH),” a Twitter feed that launched popular memes, and lively debate appearances before dropping out of the race in February 2020.
His most well-known proposal is a holdover from the presidential campaign that’s been tweaked for New York City: A basic income proposal that would dispense $1 billion, or as much as $2,000 a year in monthly installments, to 500,000 of the city’s poorest residents. Yang said he’s been speaking with private businesses and philanthropists to help fund the program, so the bill wouldn’t solely land on city hall. Yang also said he wants to wrest control of the Metropolitan Transit Authority away from the state, bringing the subway system under city oversight.
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Yang has been accused of being out-of-touch with everyday New Yorkers for fleeing the city during the pandemic to his New Paltz home and for his failure to vote in New York City mayoral elections between 2001 and 2017. More recently, he was criticized for not knowing where the A-train subway line goes.
On Wednesday, Yang said he didn’t regret his choices to leave the city during the early days of the pandemic and for not voting in previous elections. As for his subway knowledge, he said the publicity resulted in more voters knowing he was taking the train to visit with community leaders in the Bronx. He said knowledge and experience in New York City politics didn’t matter to New Yorkers and that he was proud of the time he spent in the last year raising money and recognition for Biden and Senate runoffs in Georgia.
“I would suggest that most New Yorkers are most concerned about what I can do for them,” Yang said. “I’m not someone who’s been scheming my way to city hall for years and years and years.”
Yang said he was up in early polls and has raised “about twice as many donors as the next campaign,” he said. “Most New Yorkers would have trouble even identifying most of my opponents.”
In early polls, Yang has run at the top, even competing with established and better-funded vote getters such as city Comptroller Scott Stringer and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. A Feb. 10 poll conducted by Core Decision Analytics for Fontas Advisors, a New York-based lobbying group, showed 84% of city voters knew his name, compared with 66% for Stringer and 60% for Adams.
Boosted by that voter awareness, Yang led the field with 28% support, followed by Adams at 17% and Stringer at 13%. Almost one in five voters said they were undecided.
This election will be the first New York City mayor’s race to be decided by ranked-choice voting, in which people rank their five favorite candidates instead of voting for just one candidate. Yang said his second and third choices would be former U.S. Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan and former city sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia.
Campaigning during a pandemic has perhaps fazed Yang the least of any candidate. He’s been the most active in meeting voters face-to-face, a practice for which his adversaries criticized him. He was forced to suspend all in-person campaigning in February after contracting the Covid-19 virus.
Yang said that he yearned to return New York City to a place known for business and partnering with private companies, rather than spurning them, a practice that became all-too-common for Mayor Bill de Blasio.
As for Goldman Sachs, “We appreciate Mr. Yang’s description of Goldman as a ‘world class organization,’ and we can assure him that our headquarters remains in New York City, and will for decades to come,” said spokeswoman Maeve DuVally.
“You can’t keep trying to squeeze stuff from business owners and not expect that’s going to have a reaction in the other direction. The core of it is to try to convince them and say: ‘Look, the reason Goldman Sachs has been here and is a world class organization is that you can get the best people’ and we’re going to see to it that people are excited to come back to New York City,” Yang said. “It starts with having a very clear message that my administration is going to be pro-business, pro-growth, pro-development, and wants to clear out any institutional obstacles that some companies have encountered here.”
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