After three terms in office, incumbent mayor Michael Bloomberg is leaving behind quite a task for the next mayor of New York City.
The city currently faces an unemployment rate of a little over 8% and is still reeling from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Democratic and Republican candidates are pushing through the primaries hoping to gain voters’ attention with promises of lower taxes, education reform, affordable housing, cleaner and safer streets, and equal rights. Who’s winning?
Quinnipiac University’s most recent poll in New York City shows mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn leading the charge for the Democratic nomination with 25% of voters’ support while former Congressman Anthony Weiner comes up second at 15%. Weiner’s jump in the polls has surprised the media, given his scandalous past and his introduction into the race only a few weeks ago.
On the other side of the aisle, former MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota and Gristedes Supermarkets owner John Catsimatidis both have guaranteed spots on the November ballot, having recently been chosen as the top candidate for the Conservative and Liberal Parties of New York, respectively. Lhota remains a top choice among voters, in part due to his straight-talking persona and his liberal stances on gay marriage and abortion.
But whoever wins the primary elections and makes it to the November ballot will have a decision to make — whether to keep Bloomberg’s policies or turn over a new leaf.
Among the top issues on the chopping block are the city’s education policies. New York state officials imposed a new protocol this past weekend, a four-tiered system that would make it easier to weed out ineffective teachers. Bloomberg has so far been strict on closing down failing schools and using test scores to judge teacher effectiveness. Democrats say that this is not the way to go.
"Instead of giving up on those schools, we need to turn those schools around," Democratic mayoral candidate Bill Thompson said to NBC New York. Candidates John Liu and Bill de Blasio agreed, blaming the current administration for failing to support its schools.
Republican candidates have been more focused on public safety. Lhota, Catsimatidis, and The Doe Fund founder and president George McDonald, all say they will keep Ray Kelly on as police commissioner, despite the controversy around his stop-and-frisk policies, and continue the city’s crackdown on crime. Democratic candidates are a little less unanimous on Kelly, although Quinn stated she would keep on Kelly as commissioner if elected mayor.
The race is heating up and the candidates are gaining traction, but voters will be looking to the next mayor for answers on many more hot-button issues like alleviating gun violence, fighting hate crimes against LGBT New Yorkers, and Bloomberg's Big Brother-esque policies.