The Jewish Week asked the top candidates in June’s Democratic primary for New York City mayor where they stood on a range of issues. Find the other candidates’ responses here.
Scott Stringer was elected City Comptroller in 2013. Raised in Upper Manhattan, he served as an aide to former Assemblymember (and now U.S. Representative) Jerry Nadler and as a tenant organizer on the Upper West Side. He was elected to the State Assembly in 1992 and later served as Manhattan Borough President.
After a year in which concerns about anti-Semitic hate crimes rose, we are now seeing increasing reports of attacks against Asian Americans. How would you prevent and punish hate crimes, and how would you balance calls for solutions from law enforcement with those that seek less police involvement and more education and community outreach?
Hate crimes, violent racism, and white supremacy have been stoked and fueled over the last four years — and must be unequivocally condemned at every turn. Our communities are reeling from the surge in hate crimes and incidences, particularly the recent wave of anti-Asian violence gripping our nation right now.
Sadly, hate will not disappear now with new leadership in Washington — we must stand together as New Yorkers and say hate is not welcome here. The day after the attack in Atlanta, I joined Chinatown leaders to denounce hate and spoke with small business owners about how fear of violence is leading them to close up shops early. I have also worked with Assemblymember Nily Rozic to expand Holocaust education and hate crime awareness and prevention in middle and high schools.
Moving forward, I believe we must strengthen the city and state’s survivors funds, work with community-led safety efforts to prevent incidents of harm, support businesses and workers who are experiencing an additional financial burden of the rise in hate, and work with experts in the restorative justice field to pioneer new approaches to repairing harm for survivors of hate.
This summer, the relocation of homeless men to hotels on the Upper West Side became a topic of debate within the Jewish community living there. Some supported the move as a gesture of compassion and a necessary solution to a housing crisis, and others objected that it had been done without sufficient community input and it presented a danger to the area’s permanent residents. How do you intend to address the plight of those sleeping unsheltered on the streets and in the subways, along with the safety and quality of life concerns of the city’s residents and business owners?
For too long, we’ve approached homelessness without building deeply affordable homes. As mayor, I will tackle this challenge head-on and address the underlying causes of homelessness while moving aggressively to address the problem in the near term.
We can make an immediate difference with investments in Safe Haven, stabilization, supportive, and rapid rehousing to help New Yorkers into safe, dignified housing with the services they need to maintain stability. I will work with the State to expand our supportive housing network by an additional 30,000 beds and I will expand the use and value of vouchers to market rate — ending the 90-day shelter stay requirement — to help New Yorkers move from shelter or the street into permanent affordable housing.
To truly solve homelessness, however, we need affordable housing, and my housing plan will focus on building lower-income housing that’s actually affordable to New Yorkers on the brink.
Finally, we must recognize that many families are in shelters for reasons other than eviction, and we must address unsafe housing conditions and domestic violence, which lead to many people leaving their homes, with a comprehensive City-State approach to support survivors and provide financial assistance.
At the height of the Covid crisis, some sectors of the city’s haredi (ultra-Orthodox) community were seen to be flouting safety guidelines. At the same time, leaders of the community felt singled out by the mayor, health department and law enforcement for public censure and fines. What lessons in governance did you draw from this issue?
Community buy-in for public health actions is critical. I would have worked much harder at the outset to provide sound, data-driven information to the community about how to limit exposure, and I would have enlisted the help of trusted messengers within the community to share information and provide guidance on getting help.
Jewish students have historically been disproportionately represented in the city’s specialized high schools, and Jewish alumni of these schools are justifiably proud of the education they received and excellence they represent. At the same time, the number of Black and Hispanic students has been vanishingly low and has plummeted in recent years. How would you increase diversity in the city’s specialized schools? Would you eliminate the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test?
I am a New York City public school graduate and parent, and I know the reality: what the system offers to my children is not what it offers to the kids of Elmhurst or East New York. I believe that’s both morally wrong and educationally unsound. Decades of research point to the benefits — both academic and social — of racially and socioeconomically diverse schools.
We have a specialized high school admissions process that offered just 10 out of 766 seats at Stuyvesant to Black students — that is a broken admissions process. I will push Albany to repeal the Hecht-Calandra Act, enabling the city to make changes at Stuyvesant, Bronx Science and Brooklyn Tech. And as mayor, I would create a new system for entrance into our specialized high schools that is based on state math and reading tests that all students take, instead of the SHSAT. If anything, a fairer admissions system should enable alumni of our specialized high schools to look at them with even greater pride.
The Covid crisis caused many New Yorkers to question their commitment to city life, and to consider relocating to the suburbs or other parts of the country. What’s your best case for convincing Jewish New Yorkers to stay or come back, and what specific policies will you pursue to keep them or welcome them back home?
The way we convince people to stay or come back is by restoring and strengthening the city’s value proposition as the greatest city in the world to live and work in: great schools, extraordinary parks and open space, world-class cultural institutions, and thriving and emerging industries — all encouraged by a well-run city government and effectively delivered city services. The experience and expertise I’ve developed — in my years getting major, complicated projects done as Manhattan Borough President and, over the last seven years, as the city’s Chief Financial Officer — makes me the best candidate to deliver the mayor’s part of that bargain.
That’s why I’m running with a detailed agenda to remake the city stronger than ever as we rise from the pandemic. My plan to inject $1 billion in direct stimulus to small businesses would ensure their vibrant recovery and return to hollowed-out retail corridors; my vision for public safety would ensure safe streets while dismantling systemic racism in our criminal legal system; and my comprehensive agenda for education would make New York City’s school system the best in America.
From whom do you seek advice on Jewish communal affairs? Who on your staff serves as a liaison to the Jewish community?
I seek guidance from Jewish leaders and organizations throughout the five boroughs. Congressmember Jerry Nadler and [former Manhattan Borough President] Ruth Messinger are two individuals whose advice I value enormously, particularly with regard to the intersection between policy decisions and Jewish values. In my capacity as Comptroller, my office has a community affairs team which advocates for New Yorkers throughout the five boroughs, including a main liaison to the Jewish community.