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NEW YORK — New York City mayoral candidate Fernando Mateo, one of two Republican hopefuls left in the race, spoke with Dan Mannarino for round two of PIX11’s “Conversation with the Candidates.”

Mateo was noticeably passionate speaking on the biggest issues facing the city.

NYC crime and policing

With public safety a cornerstone of his campaign, Mateo said he believes hiring thousands of new officers is one way to address a rise in crime across New York.

He believes the absence of police on the streets is part of why we’ve seen a surge in shootings and robberies.

Mateo said he is not in favor of qualified immunity for police officers and wants them to know: “I will have the back of our men and women in blue 100%.”

Unemployment and bringing back businesses

“The biggest obstacles we have here is the mayor and the governor…They don’t know what it is to run a business,” Mateo said.

The candidate said he would introduce a payroll tax relief to those that come back and reopen their businesses, and those who bring new small businesses to the city.

Reopening New York

Mateo supports landlords who he said need to make a living like everyone else. “They are small businesses, just like we are small businesses,” the businessman said.

He told us landlords should be punished because of the pandemic.

He believes many people are making more money today than they were before the pandemic, due to unemployment and PPE loans, which is making it hard to get people back to work.

Possible vaccine passport in the future

Mateo said he does not believe in a vaccine passport, saying it would be a “violation of everyone’s civil rights.”

He said the city or state instituting that type of system would be a way for the government to tell people what to do and how to do it.

“The pandemic is almost behind us…Let’s get our city open,” the candidate said.