Shaun Donovan, former HUD secretary, officially jumps into 2021 mayoral race

Donovan, director of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, answers a question during the Reuters Global Climate Change Summit in Washington
Shaun Donovan, director of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB), answers a question during the Reuters Global Climate Change Summit in Washington, October 14, 2014.
REUTERS / Jim Bourg

Former Bloomberg and Obama administration official Shaun Donovan launched his campaign for New York City Mayor on Tuesday at a virtual press conference outside of the Via Verde affordable housing complex in the South Bronx. 

“I am honored today to say that I announce that I am running for mayor of New York City to repair the torn fabric of this great city that I love, to bring together all New Yorkers, to rebuild from the damage done by COVID and to reimaging an innovative city that truly works for everyone,” Donovan said on Dec. 8. 

Donovan, 54, worked as commissioner for the New York City Department of Housing and Preservation under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg from 2004 to 2009 before serving President Obama as the United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and later being appointed director of U.S. Office of Management and Budget. 

On Tuesday, he spoke more about his time working under the Obama-Biden administration and barely brought up former boss Michael Bloomberg. 

Tuesday’s announcement marked Donovan’s first run for an elected position. During his campaign launch, Donovan touted his federal work experience as the reason New Yorkers to trust in his ability to lead the city through its post-pandemic recovery. 

 “Working with President Obama and now President-elect Biden as housing secretary and budget director I saw firsthand that we can overcome challenges and blaze innovative new paths forward,” he said. ” I learned that in every case, a city stands tall when it nourishes its civic life with the diversity of its people and views equity and inclusion as strengths. Not boxes to be checked off…my character has been shaped by heroes.” 

Donovan pitched turning New York City into a number of “15-minute neighborhoods” where every New York could have access to a public school, fresh food, a park and rapid transportation all within walking distance from their homes. 

He also said that if elected he plans to build a true Bus Rapid Transit system similar to what is in Bogota, Colombia, and Mexico City and legalize e-bikes and scooters in order to accommodate New Yorkers living in neighborhoods without easy access to the subway or bus. 

“You can use this metric to hold your mayor accountable. I’ll be on the subway every day. No matter where you live, you can tell me if you can’t access our core city services in 15 minutes,” he pledged. Donovan told amNewYork Metro that he believes New Yorkers should have a bigger voice in the MTA. 

Donovan wants to increase diversity among New York City public school teachers in order to create a teaching staff that better reflects the student body. Instructors of color make up 42% of the city’s public school teacher workforce while children of color make up just over 82% of the public school student body. One solution, Donovan argues, is expanding CUNY’s teacher training program. A second would be to improve neighborhood diversity through greater access to housing. 

Donovan added that as part of his “15-minute neighborhood” plan he wants to strengthen the connection between middle and high schools with two-year and four-year CUNY programs in order to create a “cradle to career pipeline.”

“If they go to New York City public school (every child), they ought to have a chance for a good job…we ought to be using CUNY given it’s one of the most impressive job generators in the country,” he told amNewYork Metro. 

Donovan said that if elected his administration will work with the City Council to launch equity corporate commitments in order to drive greater Black, Latino and Asian participation in high wage jobs. He added that he wants to have libraries open seven days a week across the city. 

Donovan has received a bevy of endorsements from the former mayor of New Orleans Mitchell Landrieu, Colorado Senator-elect John Hickenlooper, former Fresno mayor Ashley Swearengin, former mayor of Philadelphia Michael Nutter and former mayor of Miami Manny Diaz as well as Rev. Dr. Johnny Ray Youngblood.  

So for, Donovan has raised just over $670,000, according to his campaign’s last filing record from July.