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The presidential election may be consuming the public’s attention, but there was a major shake-up last week in another race that is vitally important to New Yorkers: the bid to be New York City’s next mayor.
Corey Johnson, the City Council speaker who was seen as a front-runner, announced that he would drop out, saying he could no longer run a campaign and be an effective speaker while monitoring his mental well-being. (Mr. Johnson said he had been suffering from depression since May.)
I asked my colleague Jeff Mays, who covers City Hall, about the significance of Mr. Johnson’s withdrawal and what it might mean for the 2021 mayor’s race.
Who are the leading candidates now? And what does Mr. Johnson’s withdrawal say about the race?
Corey Johnson was definitely considered a front-runner just a few months ago, before the Covid crisis. Along with Mr. Johnson you had the comptroller, Scott Stringer, who recently officially announced his candidacy, and Eric Adams, who is the Brooklyn borough president. It was largely expected that those three would be the major choices.
I think what happened is you had the pandemic, and then that was followed by protests after George Floyd’s death, and you still have developing New York City’s fiscal crisis, with at least $9 billion in tax revenue shortfalls, on top of an increase in shootings and homicides — I think you have all of those factors affecting the race, and who might be considered a front-runner.
Corey Johnson had to deal with the police issue. He pledged to cut $1 billion from the N.Y.P.D. The City Council didn’t quite reach $1 million, and he received a lot of criticism.
It just shows how current events are going to shift who is going to be considered an ideal candidate.
How has the pandemic affected the race?
Before the pandemic, the city was doing relatively well. A lot of money was coming in, Mayor Bill de Blasio was trying to focus on finishing his term. He wanted to continue to address affordable housing and early childhood education.
The pandemic turned the city upside down in a lot of ways.
It exposed the longstanding, continuing disparities, racial, economic health care disparities. We saw communities of color, poorer communities, get hit harder.
The next mayor is not just going to have to help the city; they may have to reimagine how things are done.
Are there candidates who are trying to rise to the occasion?
There’s been some criticism of Mayor de Blasio, in terms of reopening of the schools, about plans changing at the last minute. I think this creates an opportunity for people who can say, “Hey, I’m a really good manager.”
Mr. Stringer has said, as a catchphrase, that he’s going to “manage the hell out of the city.’”
Kathryn Garcia, the former sanitation commissioner whom Mr. de Blasio often appointed to solve major crises, is also considering a run, signaling how more women are entering what was a male-dominated field. That may also open a lane for someone like Raymond J. McGuire, who’s a Black executive at Citi.
You have candidates like Maya Wiley, a civil rights lawyer who worked as a commentator for MSNBC and as a legal counsel for Mr. de Blasio, and Dianne Morales, a former nonprofit executive. They are considered more progressive and going to be speaking to those voters who are concerned about some of those issues.
You have Mr. Adams, who’s a former police officer, who has been critical of the police in the past. He raised issues about equity during the early days of the pandemic.
What happens now?
It’s still early. You’re starting to see people roll out their candidacies. Mr. Stringer officially announced. Mr. Adams is not expected to announce officially until after the November elections.
Then you’re going to see in January and February, people are really going to start kicking it into high gear as they prepare for the June primaries, where New Yorkers will use ranked-choice voting for the first time.
From The Times
Want more news? Check out our full coverage.
The Mini Crossword: Here is today’s puzzle.
What we’re reading
A growing number of New Yorkers are finding that symptoms believed to be linked to Covid-19 can persist for months. [Gothamist]
A socialite owes almost $150,000 in rent and bills not paid since April for her luxury condo in Manhattan, her landlord says. [Page Six]
People protesting a proposed gas pipeline that would extend to Greenpoint from Brownsville said its construction would harm communities of color. [NY1]
And finally: It’s a renter’s market
Ronda Kaysen writes:
Devin Daly-Huerta has lived in New York for a decade, and until this summer, his rent only went in one direction — up.
With the lease on his two-bedroom up for renewal in August, Mr. Daly-Huerta, 34, decided in May that he and his roommate should be paying less than $2,640 a month. He had alternatives. He could live with his parents in California. Or, untethered from an office, maybe “do something I normally wouldn’t be able to do,” he said, and live abroad.
So Mr. Daly-Huerta asked for a 30 percent rent cut, hoping his landlord would agree to 10 percent.
After a polite back and forth, the landlord agreed to reduce the rent to $2,300 a month, a 13 percent cut. “It’s a testament to what happens when you speak up and look at market conditions and negotiate,” Mr. Daly-Huerta said.
For the first time in years, renters have an advantage. New Yorkers are continuing to leave the city or move to neighborhoods farther from Manhattan, driving up the vacancy rate in prime neighborhoods. And typical newcomers, like university students, aren’t moving to New York in the same numbers they usually do. The result is a glut of apartments.
August in Manhattan was particularly bleak. The vacancy rate was above 5 percent; inventory was up 166 percent from August 2019 and rent per square foot was down almost 10 percent from August 2019, according to a market report by the real estate company Douglas Elliman. In Brooklyn, the change between August 2019 and August 2020 was also stark: Inventory was up 130 percent, rent per square foot was down 1.7 percent and apartments were sitting on the market an average of 27 days, according to the same report.
“We’re seeing declines across all apartment sizes,” said Jonathan J. Miller, the president of Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers and Consultants and the author of the Douglas Elliman report. “It’s not like it’s only studios. Everything is generally weaker.”
It’s Monday — strike a deal.
Metropolitan Diary: Playing pinochle
One day last winter, after brunch and a brisk walk around my Williamsburg neighborhood, my girlfriend and I wound up in an empty dive bar, having a drink and playing pinochle.
Between hands, we chatted with the bartender. She told us she had just moved up from Florida and was really excited to be living in the city.
“Welcome to New York!” I said. “Do you live around here?”
“No,” she said with a sigh, “I’m living in Manhattan. Brooklyn’s too expensive.”
— Dennis Kitchen
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