A recent glance at the website for Joe Lhota, the Republican candidate for mayor of New York City, shows a rather sparse Web 1.0 site. There’s some decent information but not that much. Most new articles are covering his policies. So unless you’ve been paying close attention to the local politics over the past 10 years, you might feel that you don’t know the candidate. Here are the top 10 things you might not know about Joe Lhota.
While an undergraduate at Georgetown University, he made the high cost of beer and pizza at the campus pub a major issue in his campaign for student senate. The winning combination propelled him to office.
Uncommon across the rest of the country among Republican candidates, Lhota is socially liberal on most issues and distances himself from social conservatives and the Tea Party. He supports legalization of marijuana, marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples, and abortion rights.
Consistent with his socially liberal policies, he thinks the government should have an equally small role in economic life as it does in personal life. “Government should steer, not row,” said Lhota in a recent New York Times interview.
Lhota said it was environmentally damaging and unnecessarily costly to put a garbage transfer station on the Upper East Side. Instead, he suggests New Jersey take care of the waste disposal (only N.J. has the waste-to-energy plants). The Upper East Side is the only residential neighborhood in New York where there is proposal for a waste transfer station.
Lhota proposes to cut taxes for visitors staying at hotels, property owners, and businesses. He believes that he can create efficiencies in the budget to offset the reduction in tax revenue, and that the cuts will provide an economic boost for the city.
A quarter of those who backed Christine Quinn and 17% of those who backed Thompson in the Democratic primary plan on voting for Lhota in the general election. This group is mostly made up of "Bloomberg Democrats."
Lhota graduated from Harvard Business School, a degree which has shaped his technocratic outlook to help him manage operations as deputy mayor under Rudy Giuliani and as chairman of the Metropolitan Transit Authority.
When Mayor Guiliani first instituted a partial smoking ban, Lhota resisted – his small-government sensibilities kicked in, and he felt that smoking was a personal matter. Eventually he realized the benefits of the ban and now supports it.
Lhota grew up in the Bronx, the son of a policeman. He attributes his characteristically New York blunt manner to his childhood home and upbringing there.
With a Harvard Business degree and several years of investment banking under his belt, it's only natural that Lhota would be numbers-oriented. He would like to bring this data-oriented approach to the office of mayor. This could also be a major weakness, as deep-dives into city finances and budgets is hardly likely to generate enthusiasm among most New Yorkers.