Former 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang kicked off his campaign for New York City mayor on Thursday – hoping to replace outgoing Bill de Blasio with a bold pitch for a universal basic income as the title policy.
“I’m running for mayor for a very simple reason – I see a crisis and believe I can help,” he said, citing the COVID crisis as well as high unemployment in the Big Apple.
ANDREW YANG ANNOUNCES NEW YORK CITY MAYORAL OFFER
Yang spoke out in Morningside Heights on the Upper West Side of Manhattan after announcing his campaign on Wednesday night.
“We need bold ideas and new ideas to revive our city,” he said. “We need to look ahead and adapt to the economic challenges of today and tomorrow. We also need a municipal government focused on the competence and performance of our citizens on a daily basis.”
He called on the city to move away from political blame games: “When in reality people have lost and it’s tearing our city apart.”
Yang could launch a relatively moderate candidacy in a field of left-wing Democratic hopes. He described his platform as “a positive vision for New York and a rational and progressive plan to implement it and make it a reality.”
He is widely regarded as one of the early favorites and has been surrounded by speculation and interest since filing documents last month.
If his bid is successful, he would replace the left winger for Blasio, who cannot run for a third team. De Blasio has fought with Governor Andrew Cuomo over the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
NYC MAYORAL HOPEFUL ANDREW YANG FACING BLOWBACK AFTER COMPLAINING ABOUT SMALL CITY APARTMENTS
Hizzoner received applause from the left for the implementation of the universal pre-K agenda, but his 2020 was consumed by the battles of the pandemic and the reopening of schools, as well as by the increase in crime.
Yang, 46, was born in Schenectady, New York, and his parents are immigrants from Taiwan. He moved to the Big Apple at the age of 21. In the 2020 primary, he touted his background in the tech start-up arena and won a passionate following of supporters who became known as the “Yang Gang”.
His Universal Basic Income has proven popular among Democrats, and it has spread with other candidates on the ground – reappearing amid questions about how to boost the economy in the COVID era.
He called it again in New York City, calling it “the largest basic income program in the country’s history.”
Yang’s New York City policy would start by giving those living in “extreme poverty” about $ 2,000 a year.
“This program can then be developed over time as it receives more funding from public and philanthropic organizations, with the vision of ending poverty in New York City,” he says on his campaign website.
Illegal immigrants would be eligible for the program, although it would not replace current forms of social protection. He separately proposed a People’s Bank of New York.
He is likely to face a roster filled with Democratic challengers ahead of the Democratic primary in June. Other early candidates for mayor have included New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
Whoever wins the primary will likely be the frontrunner against any Republican challenger in the Democratic-majority city.
Yang was touched by his main rivals after telling the New York Times that he decided to move due to the cramped conditions in his two-bedroom apartment. Critics have pointed out that New Yorkers have faced the same scenario for months, often in apartments smaller than his. But Yang brushed aside the criticism.
“All parents in New York have struggled to educate our children during a time of COVID. I have been proud to live, work and raise my children in this city for 25 years,” Yang said in response to criticism. “After COVID closed our public schools, we took our two children, including my autistic son, to upstate New York to help him adjust to our new normal.”
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Over the pandemic, he prioritizes pushing for the reopening of New York City, noting the damage the lockdowns have done to the economy. He called for the reopening of schools and businesses, but also insisted on reopening the “fun” side of the city.
“New York has to be the first big city to reopen, and that means reopening everything that makes us who we are,” he says on his campaign website. “Our restaurants, our cabins, our parks, our events – we have sacrificed ourselves for the common good, and we deserve to make New York City fun again.”
He also called for the “biggest post-COVID celebration” in the world and for take-out cocktails to become a permanent fixture – noting their popularity in the New York lockout – as well as the legalization of marijuana.
Thomas Barrabi of Fox News contributed to this report.