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Mayoral Hopefuls Have a Narrow Window for Bold Moves

A year from now, New York City will likely know its next mayor. The tallies from the June 22, 2021 primary election will still be getting tallied, and the possibility of a strong Republican or Independent candidacy will certainly make the November general election meaningful. Chances are, however, that the person who prevails in the Democratic primary will make it to City Hall.

Especially with the presidential race occupying more of the spotlight between now and November, that means Scott Stringer, Corey Johnson, Eric Adams, Diane Morales, Loree Sutton and Sean Donovan—the Democrats who’ve announced they are running—have to start making their case to voters very soon.

“The recent events, between COVID and the protests, have unscrambled things and what candidates will need to do to meet the moment because we’re in a very different moment,” Neal Kwatra, the founder of Metropolitan Strategies, told WBAI’s Max & Murphy Show on Wednesday. “People are paying attention, people are on the streets, people are researching directors and where they were on issues, not just in the last six weeks but in the last six years. All of that is still yet to shake out.”

What is known is that candidates are operating amid a pandemic, a fiscal crisis and an unprecedented public reckoning over race and criminal justice.

“The conversation can’t just stop at police reform and accountability. All of these issues of systemic racism course through every aspect of public life from housing to education, to taxes to Medicaid. For crying out loud, we’re in the middle of a pandemic and we have the State of New York continuing to cut Medicaid,” Kwatra noted. “In the State of New York, 37 percent of every non-elderly African American, is on Medicaid, when you cut Medicaid, you’re cutting healthcare for African Americans in the State of New York, period, end of story. These are conversations we have to have through that lens in this moment.”

The presence of a multifaceted crisis and the failures of the current mayor to respond to it capably mean that managerial chops will be important as voters select the next city leader, Kwatra added.

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