Andrew Yang formally announced his candidacy for New York City mayor in the 2021 Democratic primary in June, promising bold action on poverty and transportation.
During his Thursday announcement at Morningside Drive and 116th Street, Yang he would launch a fully electric bus fleet while advocating for municipal control of the city’s subways which have been under operation by the state since the fiscal crisis of 1980s.
But not unlike other mayoral hopefuls, the billionaire who recently backed out of the running for president of the United States said he wants to pave the way for New York City’s poorest residents to improve their lot.
“I also think that people know that if I had the capacity to do so, we’d be giving everyone $1,000 a month right now, not just here in New York City but around the country. And so, I’m a numbers guy. I’m not going to come and say we’re going to give every New Yorker something that I know is not feasible. But one thing I can say is feasible is that we can make extreme poverty a thing of the past,” Yang said.
Since 2018, Council Speaker Corey Johnson, expressed his own interest in taking back control of the city’s own assets in the subway system as mayor before eventually backing out of the race altogether. Yang adopted the plan offering a nod to Johnson, stating that if he requests this from Albany as a new mayor, he may just get what he wants.
“We need reliable subways and more space on our streets for buses and bikes… I will build Bus Rapid Transit networks like the 14th Street busway in every borough. I will have a fully electric bus system by 2030,” Yang said. “Building this forward thinking transit network will require municipal control of the city’s subways and buses, as mayor I will fight to get control of our subways and buses so we can control our own destiny.”
But with a $9 billion municipal budget deficit for fiscal year 2021 alone, something the city may take years to recover from, which Yang admitted to, the city may not be in a better situation than when it relinquished control over to Albany to begin with.
The state itself and the MTA has struggled throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to stabilize their finances after steep ridership declines pushed the agency into a state of crisis that only the federal government has been able to get aid through.
“Well, this is one of the things we’re talking about with the city in the state. The fact is, a lot of the big things you want to get done as mayor you need the state’s support and collaboration,” Yang said. “So that’s going to be a conversation that we have to have but one thing I’ve seen is that when a new mayor comes in, typically they can get a few things done in Albany. And to me, that should be one of the things we’re trying to get done.”
Yang joins Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, city Comptroller Scott Stringer, former Civilian Complaint Review Board chair Maya Wiley, former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia, former HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, Dianne Morales and several others in the running to succeed Mayor Bill de Blasio.