Democrat Running for NYC Mayor Calls De Blasio Hostile to Businesses
(Bloomberg) -- New York mayoral candidate Loree Sutton, a retired general who served as the city’s commissioner of veterans services, says she wants to reverse an anti-business attitude she says pervades Democratic Party leadership.
The city, struggling economically in the throes of the pandemic, needs better relationships with corporate leaders, said Sutton, 61, who is among a crowded field of Democratic candidates in the June 22 primary.
Eight years of an adversarial relationship with Mayor Bill de Blasio have made businesspeople feel “frustrated at best and disdained at worst,” she said during a one-hour interview with Bloomberg News editors and reporters.
That could chase companies out, she said. The idea isn’t theoretical: Amazon.com Inc. pulled out of a planned headquarters in Long Island City two years ago after community opposition. In December, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said it might establish an asset-management hub in Florida.
“Public safety, public health and opening the city for small and big business” are the pillars upon which Sutton will build in a mayoral campaign, she said. “I would talk to the immigrant mom-and-pop owners of small businesses as well as large corporate moguls. I would tell them help is on the way.”
Sutton served as the the Army’s highest-ranking psychiatrist before de Blasio tapped her to head the city’s Department of Veterans’ Services. In that job, she says, she decreased veteran homelessness 90%.
A native of California, Sutton has lived in New York City since 2013. If elected she would be the city’s first female mayor, and its first openly gay chief executive.
The city’s management of Covid-19 vaccine distribution has been “a mess,” she said, adding that New York should have consulted private technology companies in designing user-friendly websites for appointment reservations.
Sutton described herself as a non-politician. She said her views range to the left of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders on topics like funding mental health and homeless services but are more pro-business than the Wall Street Journal’s conservative editorial board.
The candidate was a lifelong independent before registering as a Democrat to run for mayor. Sutton said she wanted to present voters with an alternative to the far left that she said has ascended throughout the Democratic Party after the 2018 election of U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents parts of the Bronx and Queens.
Sutton was particularly critical of calls to defund the police after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis officers, breaking with the majority of Democratic contenders for New York City mayor. She said the de Blasio administration mishandled Black Lives Matter protests that led to hundreds of people occupying the area around City Hall for weeks. The mayor failed to support police who were vilified and attacked during the demonstrations, and small businesses that were set on fire and burglarized, she said.
“The NYPD has suffered from the mayor’s conflicted relationship with authority and the rule of law and order,” she said.
In New York City, Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 6 to 1, which makes the primary winner heavily favored to win the general election. About a dozen Democratic candidates are vying for the mayoral nomination this year and Sutton said her path to victory lies in presenting herself as a “centrist outlier.”
She acknowledged her candidacy is “a long shot,” but that large numbers of conservative Democrats who agree with her rarely participate in primaries.
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.
Sutton’s own alternative choices, she said, were Kathryn Garcia, the city’s former sanitation commissioner, and Ray McGuire, the former Citigroup vice-chairman. Each, she said, has experience as leaders of large organizations.
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