NEW YORK — Becoming the city’s next mayor as a Republican may seem like an uphill battle, but the leading candidates in the GOP Primary are using a similar playbook to the one that propelled Rudy Guliani to victory back in 1993.
With a rise in safety concerns including a violet 2020 and start to 2021, policing has been front and center for the smaller Republican field.
Tuesday, Curtis Sliwa, the colorful and sometimes controversial founder of the Guardian Angels and a radio host, unveiled his policing plan in front of 1 Police Plaza. Sliwa proposed restoring recent NYPD budget cuts, increasing the number sworn patrol officers and undoing some reforms.
He proposes paying for it by ending tax breaks for Madison Square Garden and private universities, including Columbia.
“That will be specifically directed to putting a billion dollars back into the police budget and hiring cops to get us to 38,000, which we’re going to need to bring back public safety,” Sliwa said.
The Staten Island and Brooklyn Republican Parties have lined up behind Sliwa. The GOP in the Bronx, Queens and Manhattan have lined up behind Fernando Mateo.
Mateo said he also supports “unhandcuffing” police but does not support Sliwa’s tax plan to pay for it. The small business owner is a long-time spokesman for the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers and recently the United Bodegas of America.
Mateo notes he’s been involved in making the city safer for years through his various roles, including job training at Rikers and gun buy-back programs.
“This urban Republican you see here has done what Democrats have never done for their communities,” Mateo said via Zoom from Florida, where he said he was working to convince businesses to come back to the city. “I have worked exclusively for the Democratic communities, the people that are poor.”
Others actively campaigning in the GOP field include Sara Tirschwell, a single mother and former Wall Street executive. Currently, she is the Chief Financial Officer of mental health non-profit, Foundation House.
Tirschwell did not participate in a recent fiery debate between Sliwa and Mateo hosted by WABC Radio. Policing was front-and-center at the debate when punches were not being thrown.
Sliwa at one point called Mateo “de Blasio Republican” who raised money illegally for the current mayor.
Mateo accused Sliwa of lying and said he had “enough dirt to cover your body 18 feet over.”
When asked about the debate Tirschwell said “I think voters know that I’m the adults in the room.”