Jack Hidary, a successful technology CEO who co-founded Dice.com, a website for job seekers, has, at the 11th hour, launched a bid for mayor of New York City as an independent. A graduate of the Yeshivah of Flatbush, Hidary, 45, said he believes New Yorkers want a mayor who is not tied down to special interests. He is single and lives in Manhattan.
Q: You are entering a very crowded field of mayoral aspirants — seven Democrats and three Republicans vying for their party’s nomination. And you’re an independent with little name recognition. How do you expect to win?
A: We have a great shot. There are many candidates, but many people around New York City — educators, business people, school principals, small business people and entrepreneurs — called me and said you have to enter the race because we need a different choice. Most of the other candidates are career politicians who want to take us back 30 years. We saw Detroit go bankrupt this week. We had to have Felix Rohaytn [an investment banker] save us from bankruptcy [in the 1970s]. Why would we want to go back to those policies?
How do you see yourself?
I am not a career politician. I am the only candidate who combines entrepreneurial experience creating and building companies with public service. I worked in education and microfinance — and microfinance is a great tool for New York City to use to help individuals start their own businesses. We want to provide jobs for adults and for our kids’ futures, and we have to focus on the growth economy — industries that are growing.
In New York City there is a lot of good economic development in downtown Manhattan, but how about Brooklyn? Where I grew up there are not a lot of businesses. A lot of people want to start companies in Brighton Beach and are looking for the same services found in Manhattan; they are not there. So there is demand in the city by people who want to start and grow companies — and expand them out to the edges.
The other Jewish candidate in the mayoral race is Anthony Weiner. How do you hope to separate yourself from him in the eyes of those Jewish voters who just vote for the Jewish candidate?
I will be focusing on community. I have not heard one other candidate talk about tangible investment in community centers and services. In my own community, look at the benefits to the city and our neighbors because of our investment in the Sephardic Community Center at Avenue S and Ocean Parkway. Look at the benefits to the community and neighborhood from the center. Before it was built, families were moving to Long Island; the center has brought everyone back and focused the community. It has provided a place for small businesses to get mentors and adult education. It is a place for immigrants to come and get English classes and training for jobs. These are some of the roles of a community center. The one in Far Rockaway has been under construction for six years. Let’s complete it. Far Rockaway was hit hard by Sandy; it needs these services. It is a critical investment for New York.
How do you deal with Weiner’s sexting scandal?
When people look at Anthony Weiner’s 12-plus years in Congress, he produced only one piece of legislation. He represented the community I came from, and there is a lot of disappointment that more was not done for the community during those years.
How would you deal with the unemployment problem in the city?
If you look at the unemployment rate in the city, it is 8.9 percent — that’s more than 350,000 people who are out of work in the city and up to 180,000 of them are under 25 years of age. Community centers provide the critical function of training people for various types of jobs and skills to help our youth get into the workforce. And it helps individuals whose businesses have gone bust to start again. And I’m for microfinance — low-interest loans to help people start their own business when they can’t get money from a bank.
What do you want people to remember about you?
The career politicians running have had their chance to deliver for the people, but have failed. It’s time for independent leadership to take us forward and not machine politics that will take us backward.