I am running for mayor to counter the stale drift of ideas that have come from our city's Democratic and Republican parties.
We have been fortunate that the last two mayors were able to forge fusion mayoralties which brought together moderate Democrats, pragmatic liberals, independents and the dwindling Republican ranks in our city. Their policies cracked the back of crime, while preventing the sort of fiscal irresponsibility which plagues many large cities and Albany before Cuomo.
I will be running in the Democratic primary, but I am most proud to be the endorsed candidate of a new Liberal Party. The new Liberal Party is dedicated to creating a political vehicle which serves as a countervailing force to the major parties mush of torpor and greed.
It was said that the old Liberal Party kept the Democratic machines honest and the Republicans liberal. Today, we have a different mission: we need a new Liberal Party to keep the Democrats moderate and both parties free of special interest corruption. The City Council's chronic member item scandals are but a powerful symbol of a deep-seated tolerance of waste in our city's politics.
I run for mayor not as handicapper's favorite, but so that a purposeful agenda is put forward to voters. Here are the four planks I will run on.
First, we need to entirely rethink our approach to education. Yes, teacher quality and accountability are important, but that is just one piece in an increasingly complicated jigsaw puzzle. We also need strong parochial schools, bolstered by tax credits, and a large-scale rebuilding program bringing our schools into the 21st century, with broadband and great facilities. Charter schools are engines for reform and high-stakes testing are, unfortunately, increasingly the enemy of arts education and the desperate need to keep our kids stimulated and interested in learning. Vocational school for teenagers are a much-needed reform that we have to put back in the mix.
Second, pension reform must be tackled and not treated as a political third rail. A decade ago, pension costs were approximately 2.5% of the city's annual budget (roughly $1 billion in a $40 billion budget) but it has ballooned under Bloomberg-Quinn to more than 12% of the city's annual budget (approximately $8 billion in a $65 billion budget). This is unsustainable and must be remedied via new pension tiers and negotiation with city workers to tie future increases to real pension reform. The next mayor must never leave the bully pulpit on pension reform.
Third, we must bring pragmatism and ingenuity to economic development and job creation. With so much wasted energy spent on a Living Wage bill that may affect 500 jobs, we are missing the forest for the trees. Instead, we need to create hundreds of thousands of jobs by enacting tax incentives for new business owners, reinstating tax abatement programs like J51 to incentivize another boom in real estate development and creative public private partnerships nurturing new industries like biotech, light manufacturing and green energy. Higher education, the city's second largest industry after health care, must be nurtured with more bold ideas like the mayor's new tech campus on Roosevelt Island.
Fourth, the next mayor must develop alternative types of transportation to incorporate the boom of new immigrants into our urban landscape. Elevated light rail for crosstown transportation in Manhattan's midtown districts, rapid bus transit and more bike lanes will help transport our citizens more efficiently. More cabs, with handicapped accessibility to make transit more humane for those in need, are a necessity. But we also need the MTA returned to the city's control, so we can figure out ways to keep fares down for straphangers and our vital working class.
All these ideas can bear fruit, but only if we are no longer held back by the constricting orthodoxies of the left-right divide. We don't need policies geared to just working families or the wealthy, but policies sustaining all families, so that the entire city moves toward prosperity. The alternative is New York becoming a sad tale of two cities.
Nor can we sustain progress without fundamental reforms. We need to return to honest budgeting without deceptive fiscal tricks. We also need campaign finance reform and independent redistricting so that incumbents don't settle into life-long jobs protected from competitive elections. Fresh blood will only come into our politics, if we clear the clogged arteries in our body politic.
I am committed to transforming a new Liberal Party not only into a ballot line for my mayoral candidacy, but into a restored line on the ballot in the statewide election in 2014. Effective governmental engineering will require a foundation of solid political architecture.
I ask voters to keep their minds open, judging not only my candidacy but all candidates on whether we are addressing their needs, rather than our own ambitions. The stakes are too high for politics as usual.
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