Make me mayor and I’ll hire one of my fellow candidates to run the nuts and bolts of City Hall.
That was Andrew Yang’s broad message to The Post’s Editorial Board on Thursday, as the Democratic front-runner pitched himself as a man who can build the right team to bring New York City back to life after the coronavirus pandemic — while he coordinates and manages.
“You’re going to need to build a team with a range of experience and, certainly, if I’m the mayor, that team will need to consist of a number of people who are very deeply experienced in government,” Yang said during the hour-long sit-down. “I’m already thinking about how to staff the administration and make sure we can actually move the bureaucracy.”
Number one on his list?
Kathryn Garcia, one of his competitors in the June 22 primary, who has served as the ‘Ms. Fix-It’ for the past two administrations — including tours as Sanitation Commissioner, head of the sewer system, the city’s lead czar and public housing chief after the Housing Authority was rocked by scandal, and building the Big Apple’s emergency COVID-19 food delivery program for the poor and homebound.
“I would like Kathryn Garcia to have a role in my administration and one of the reasons is that she’s an experienced operator, having not just the Department of Sanitation, but also other very significant agencies,” he said. “I like and respect her. I have my eyes very wide open for people like Kathryn.”
While others would manage the day-to-day, Yang said that he views the job of mayor as “team-building, culture-setting” and orchestrating and improving relationships between the public and private sector.
“It’s going to be administrative,” he allowed, but quickly added: “It’s also going to be activating resources in the private sector, in the tech sector, in the philanthropic sector — and cheerleading for a recovery for New York City.”
Under questioning, Yang said that he would push Michael Mulgrew, the head of the UFT, to reopen public schools more quickly and offered his special needs son’s return to the classroom as a poignant example of the importance of in-person learning.
“The data clearly shows that being in-person is better for kids, that remote learning is 30- to 70 percent less effective,” said the tech entrepreneur, who mounted a long-shot bid in 2020 for the White House. “And it also shows that the kids who are most at risk are poorer New Yorkers, who tend to be disproportionately black and brown.”
However, when pressed on how he would convince Mulgrew to relent, Yang offered few details and stopped short of saying he would order teachers back to classrooms. Instead, he argued that he could make a case to the public more effectively than Mayor Bill de Blasio, putting pressure on Mulgrew to offer concessions.
“I would have made a case to the public, saying to parents, ‘look, kids need to be back in schools at some point’ and the data shows that we’re really not serving them well,” “Pretending remote school is a substitute is not right, it’s — at best — a mediocre stop-gap.”
“I’m going to suggest that I would be better situated than the Mayor has been because people see me as — and I hope this is the case, I see myself as is — as someone who’s going to act on behalf of the people of New York City,” he added.
During the interview, Yang also brushed aside questions about the quality of the education offered by private yeshivas run by sects of the city’s politically powerful Orthodox Jewish community.
“I visited a number of these schools and the kids are learning English and math and basic subjects, at least in my exposure to them,” he said. “My starting point is that they’re investing a ton in educating their kids in a way that they see as best for them.”
Yang’s renewed defense came just days after scoring a significant endorsement from community leaders in the heavily Hasidic neighborhood of Borough Park.
His statements run contrary to the findings of a city investigation that revealed the curriculum at just two of 28 examined yeshivas met state requirements for providing an education that is substantively equivalent to one offered in public school.
So Yang would hire Garcia, who's already polling last, is certain to drop out soon and who also was leading three departments before she quit picking up the slack for the Blaz to run for mayor. Makes her a good choice to pick up Yang's slack as well. He is also too chickenshit to take on Mulgrew. But one thing Yang knows is to not mess with the Hasidic community, whose votes put the Blaz over the top and into city hall 8 years ago. SAMO. NWFC.
Betcha he'll hire Maya Wiley as a law advisor as well.