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These New Yorkers Aim to Be the First Black Mayor of NYC in 30 Years. What’s On Their Agenda?

Essence logo Essence 5/14/2021 Malaika Jabali

From the cultural renaissance in Harlem to the worldwide dominance of hip-hop that was birthed in the Bronx, Black New Yorkers have shaped the culture of New York City— and the world— for a good century. Yet only one Black person has ever served as its mayor.

Over 30 years after the election of the late David Dinkins in 1989, four Black candidates have entered the ring to lead America’s biggest city. Black New Yorkers have been hit especially hard by COVID-19 and experience some of the worst wealth inequality and segregation in the country, so we know merely having a Black face in a high place isn’t enough.

Here’s a rundown on what they’ve said promised to do for the community:

1. Dianne Morales

Dianne Morales standing in front of a building: Photo by Dimitri Rodriguez © Provided by Essence Photo by Dimitri Rodriguez

Platform highlights:

  • Pressure the state government to invest an additional $3 billion in public housing, and pressure Congress to invest over $30 billion in public housing.
  • Increase city contracting for Black, brown and women-led businesses, and expand technical and start-up support from nearly 28% in 2020 to 50% of all city contracts.
  • Reallocate $3 billion of NYPD’s overall budget “to create the conditions that prevent crime.”
  • For education, Morales wants the school chancellor to identify and compile “a comprehensive list of the policies and practices that disproportionately impact Black and Brown youth and youth of color in our public schools, and outline a strategy to address these harms.”

2. Maya Wiley

Maya Wiley sitting on a stage: Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images © Provided by Essence Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

Platform highlights

  • Increase new and accelerated spending in NYCHA by $2 billion.
  • Tackle the racial wealth gap by building wealth in communities of color through locally-rooted and employee-centered small business ownership.
  • Under a New Deal infrastructure plan, “develop and implement policies and practices that promote local hiring of residents in communities with high unemployment and poverty rates and support pre-apprentice and apprentice programs that diversify the workforce.” 
  • Direct $4.35M to build birthing centers at every city-owned hospital and a freestanding center on the North Shore of Staten Island targeting communities of color with the highest instances of maternal mortality.

3. Ray McGuire

a man in a suit standing in front of a window: Photo by Cedric Wooten Photography © Provided by Essence Photo by Cedric Wooten Photography

Platform highlights:

  • Launch Affordable Childcare for All to guarantee every parent access to quality early childcare, as well as education for infants and toddlers.
  • Hire police officers who represent where they serve and create a 24-hour citywide system of Emergency Social Services (ESS) to respond to all 911 calls that relate to mental health, substance misuse, or issues affecting the homeless.
  • Increase amount NYC spends on rental subsidies and vouchers from approximately $130 million up to $400 million.
  • Double the amount of city capital funds being spent on affordable housing construction to $2.5 bil each year. Spend majority of these funds on housing that’s affordable for households who earn 50% or less of the area media income.

4. Eric Adams

Eric Adams wearing a suit and tie: Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images © Provided by Essence Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Platform highlights:

  • Maintain present levels of police in NYPD; re-intstate a plainclothes police unit; and diversify the force by “adding Black and Brown officers who will respect and protect New Yorkers” and appointing the city’s first woman police commissioner. Increase transparency by “publicizing the list of cops being monitored for bad behavior.”
  • Provide childcare for every parent who cannot afford it, starting at birth; and provide direct cash assistance to New Yorkers through the NYC AID program.
  • To help close racial health gaps, create permanent health care centers in underserved areas and bring resources directly into low-income communities.
  • Make zoning changes to build more affordable units in wealthier areas and repurpose city office buildings and hotels for affordable housing.

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