Former Sanitation boss Kathryn Garcia joins list of candidates running for New York City mayor

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Commissioner Kathryn Garcia at food pantry in Brooklyn on Tuesday. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Former New York City Department of Sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia announced her bid for mayor on Thursday over Zoom conference, touting her expertise in crises that she believes will help her get New York through the current pandemic.

With a resume showcasing experience as head of one of the largest waste management systems in the country, interim NYCHA chair and chief operating officer of the city Department of Environmental Protection, Garcia joins crowded field of hopefuls to succeed Mayor Bill de Blasio.

One union leader, Harry Nespoli, head of sanitation workers union Local 831, has already backed Garcia who has been considering the run since September when she resigned from her post in the de Blasio administration and participated in candidates forum on Dec. 5.

“New York City’s success, at the end of the day, means proper budget management,” she said. “This isn’t the federal government, where they can print money, and it isn’t a database on a Wall Street computer. New Yorkers are looking for a Mayor that doesn’t need to learn on the job and has the nuts and bolts experience to deliver a fast recovery.”

But her competitors have clout of their own.

Running in the June 22 Democratic primary will be city Comptroller Scott Stringer, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, former chair of the Civilian Complaint Review Board Maya Wiley who have all made official announcements including some who have not formally launched a campaign.

Shaun Donovan, an attorney representing homeless residents of the Lucerne Hotel, and Ray McGuire, a former Citicorp executive, are also running — with the latter coming into the race over $2 million in his campaign coffers which he plans to use to elevate his name recognition and even the playing field against his opponents who have been in government for much longer.

“Kathryn Garcia is the most talented, hard-working person I’ve ever worked with,” Nespoli said in a statement. “She managed the largest sanitation department in the world, which by the way is 96% male, and along the way won the respect of every person there. There is no person better qualified to take over City Hall.”

In terms of what kind of crises Garcia can expect to inherit from the de Blasio administration after COVID-19, Garcia spoke to how she will address housing last week in stating that housing instability should be solved starting with property owners.

“There are struggles for landlords, there are struggles for tenants. We know that repairs are not happening. We know that there could be foreclosures coming up. This is an opportunity, though, for the city to do two things. One is to really bring together the private sector, and help them work with their bankers to make sure that those units are not foreclosed upon,” Garcia said on Dec. 5. “We need to be able to begin to create funding streams that support them. And I think using the private sector to come in and help support that is critical, because the city honestly will not have large amounts of money going into 2021.”

The mayoral race will not be the only one crowding the ballot if all candidates remain by the time they’re printed. 

In the city council’s 26th District, now represented by Jimmy Van Bramer, there are currently 19 people running and if that’s any indication of what voters can expect, of the 51 council seats only 16 members are up for re-election.

After 2021, council members will be restricted to only two years in office, as opposed four.