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Kathryn Garcia

Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire


Rebuilding New York City

Question 1

Please describe what steps you will take to rebuild the economy.

The key to our recovery is to provide the necessary support and day to day quality of life investments— clean parks, safe transit, reliable childcare, access to fresh healthy foods—that allow all New Yorkers to thrive. My Administration will prioritize supplying the most vulnerable New Yorkers with meaningful economic relief and pathways for economic mobility. First, we will provide free childcare for working families, allowing guardians, especially women, to get back to work. Second, we will unlock barriers for small businesses by increasing access to credit, streamlining all laws and regulations governing restaurants and nightlife establishments, and cutting red tape for all permit and licensing processes.  Third, we will create job pipelines into both the public and private sector for justice involved youth, CUNY  colleges, and trade schools. We will guarantee graduates of our trade schools City employment, work with the private sector to offer 10,000 paid internships to high school students, and subsidize wages for youth who face barriers to employment. Lastly, for housing we will focus City investment where it’s needed most and create 50,000 units of deeply affordable housing (<30% AMI).  

While it has been a dark year for New York City, that thing that makes us New York hasn’t gone away.  The people who started those restaurants, theaters, salons, bodegas, dance clubs, gyms, and museums  – all their creative talent is still here. They just need help. That’s why the core of our recovery plan is meaningful economic relief and job pathways for the most vulnerable New Yorkers. I have proposed a robust Reopen to Stay Open Plan that has three key focus areas: 

  • Create a single small business City Permit. Any new business with less than 100 employees will be able to fill out just one simple, streamlined permit to get up and running. You will be able to apply for that City Permit on your smartphone. Any new or returning business that applies for a City Permit will get a response within 1 month of submitting the application. 
  • Launch CrowdsourceNYC, a fund that provides zero interest microloans to small businesses with 20 employees or fewer, starting with anchor investments from the City’s pension fund and support from the private sector. 
  • Reimagine how the City uses public space to give local businesses and art organizations a bigger footprint in their communities–by reforming our concessions and public art permitting process to unlock hundreds of thousands of square feet of public space for arts and culture.


Question 2

There has been a seismic shift in female representation in the workforce due to COVID-19. Particularly, women of color have lost jobs or have been left to care for their families. What is your plan to spur job growth and small business ownership for women?

First, we are in a childcare crisis. We have 1 in 4 women considering stepping back from their careers today. My proposal is to offer free childcare for ages 1-3 for all families with income less than $70k,  allowing guardians, especially women, to get back to work. 

Starting a business is already hard–but for entrepreneurs of color and specifically for black women,  limited resources and biases that make it harder to secure investor support make the path to success even more challenging. To address the lack of access to banking, we will need to work with Albany to increase access to credit and non-dilutive capital for the City’s vital and at risk enterprises at amounts less than $100K and support innovative financial mechanisms that serve small businesses. We will also provide an increase in financial assistance (loans, grants) and financial literacy workshops where vendors can learn on how to apply for loans/grants, which loans best suit their needs, and how to calculate loan repayment.


Question 3

How would you have handled the Amazon deal differently? Please describe your approach to recruiting companies to NYC.

We need to bring more voices in when we talk about the future of our city. The problem with the Amazon HQ2 plan was that elected officials who represented the area and community members were surprised by the news. You can’t surprise communities with a major plan that will change their neighborhoods. New  York City can and will work together to attract outside investment that benefits neighborhoods and creates new jobs.  

I believe the way forward for NYC’s economy is in the green economy. I plan on taking steps to move  NYC to a fully renewable energy economy starting on day one. The core components of our plan are:  expanding renewable energy generation and transmission, cutting building emissions from residential and commercial heating, electrifying vehicles, expanding green infrastructure and community resiliency solutions, and achieving our zero waste goal. Our investments into critical infrastructure to achieve this will attract the best in building, technology, and science. 


Question 4

Municipalities across the country have had systems and data held hostage for ransom, do you think NYC is sufficiently protected? If not, what is your plan and what is your position on paying ransom?

The Buffalo public school system suffered a ransomware attack last month highlighting the fact that ransomware organizations specifically target K-12 school systems. It’s incredibly important that we train public employees in proper precautions against malware, and do regular white hat audits of our own systems. Personally Identifiable Information (PII) should be sandboxed in organizations with client/student/public facing terminals. Backup systems present an opportunity to recover data without paying a ransom, which experts generally advise against, and many of the nation’s mayors have agreed not to do. We shouldn’t reinforce this behavior, we can’t trust that paying the ransom will not lead to double exploitation. As Mayor, my administration would ensure we are not in a position to pay  ransom and in the unlikely circumstance that ransomware holds some of our data hostage, I will not pay a ransom. 


Question 5

How do you plan to address the issue of affordable housing when nearly 30 percent of people are spending half their income on rent? How do you define affordable housing?

We will focus City investment where it’s needed most and create 50,000 units of deeply affordable housing (<30% AMI). We will also make it easier, faster, and legal for private partners to build more housing. We have added 500k New Yorkers over the last decade, but only 100k units of new housing – we cannot reduce the housing prices without increasing supply. We will end apartment bans and discriminatory zoning, and allow duplexes and triplexes to create more options for families. We will legalize basement apartments, accessory dwelling units, and single-room occupancy (SRO) apartments as a safe, sustainable and efficient means of providing housing to single-adult households–approximately one-third of households in New York City. Finally, we will accelerate approvals for new housing construction, streamline the ULURP and environmental review process as well as permit applications and inspections at the Buildings Department and sister agencies.


Question 6

How will you reinvest in and expand public housing, ensuring that all have a decent home? What are your specific plans to expand and revitalize public housing in NYC?

NYCHA has been an emergency in slow motion for decades, leaving residents to live in deteriorating apartments while the City, state, and federal government point fingers. NYCHA 2.0 and the Blueprint for  Change offer a strong roadmap for change but unlike the current Mayor, a Garcia administration will have the political courage, focus, and decisiveness to execute. We need to cut the “planning” and focus on  executing badly needed repairs at NYCHA

Residents have seen plan after plan after plan, including 3 plans under the de Blasio administration. We know what needs to be done — install new boilers, hire more plumbers, fix broken elevators, eliminate mold — and our focus will be on executing the plan.  

We will increase investment in NYCHA and make existing dollars stretch to cover more repairs to critical infrastructure, including creating a new authority for capital work that accelerates lengthy procurement rules. We will also leverage substantial federal money available in Section 8 and other programs to fix units so NYCHA residents can be proud of their homes. We cannot let relatively “minor” repairs go unattended. To execute repairs in individual apartments, I believe in returning the original model of on site teams in each NYCHA community, instead of the current centralized process. Each development should have assigned dedicated skilled trade workers such as carpenters, painters, plasterers, plumbers and electricians. The pilot program in Queensbridge, Astoria Houses, and Ravenswood need to be expanded to the rest of the City ASAP.  

More than 40% of NYC’s carbon emissions come from burning fossil fuels for heat and hot water in our buildings, and we will incentivize electrifying those systems to transform oil and gas to highly-efficient heat pump technologies. This work must include our affordable and public housing stock, and we will leverage City capital to allow NYCHA and affordable housing providers to finance smart investments in building systems that achieve long-term savings in maintenance and operations. We will expand our free air-conditioner program for families and seniors to mitigate the health effects of extreme heat, and ensure that every new NYCHA roof incorporates green roof, blue roof or solar power technology.


Question 7

With the cost of living rising at nearly three times the rate of wages, 2.5 million working-age New Yorkers are struggling to provide food, housing, and other basic necessities for their families. What specific plans do you have to address poverty and the vulnerability of the working poor in NYC?

The core of my COVID-19 recovery plan is to support the most vulnerable New Yorkers with meaningful economic relief: free childcare, support for small businesses, a jobs pipeline for CUNY and trades schools graduates, and universal broadband. As someone who has worked closely with frontline essential workers for years to deliver critical services, I know that we have an obligation to protect workers and build a solid work environment. I will double-down on job growth and economic mobility, building a  pipeline from our City’s community colleges and trade schools to good-paying jobs in biotech, green infrastructure and renewable energy. I will create expanded protections for workers, including free childcare for working families, and more strongly enforce our paid sick leave and fair work week laws.  

As the City’s COVID-19 Food Czar, I was responsible for developing and implementing an emergency food delivery program to make sure New Yorkers did not go hungry during the pandemic. I stood up an operation that successfully provided over 1 million meals per day to New  Yorkers all across the City. The pandemic has exacerbated existing inequities in our communities,  and it’s critical that we make dismantling them a priority as we recover from the pandemic. My comprehensive plan to fight food insecurity includes reducing food waste, increasing SNAP  enrollment, preparing for future emergencies, supporting urban agriculture, and increasing access to healthy food.

The key to all policy making is to bring all the stakeholders to the table. The communities most impacted by COVID must have a say in how we move forward, and will have the best insight into what is actually needed on the ground, and then how to best implement the solution. 


Public Health & Safety

Question 8

How do you plan to address the rise of hate crime incidents in NYC? How will your office engage with communities to promote hate crime reporting and prevention? Do you consider gender-based violence a hate crime? If so, how will you reduce and prevent it?

Hate crimes have been on the rise across the City. No New Yorker should have to fear walking our streets or riding the subways. As Mayor, I would work to streamline the important work carried out by the  City’s Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes. It is also critical that communities are reporting hate crimes, because if we don’t have accurate data, we cannot deploy a proportional response. I will prioritize simplifying the reporting process for these crimes. I will speak out against hate crimes and hateful language, and I will hire leaders that are both representative of the communities and serve and share my unwavering commitment to being an inclusive and equitable city for all New Yorkers. In my administration, there will be a strict and zero-tolerance policy for hate crimes. 

Many cases of gender-based violence can certainly be characterized as hate crimes. These crimes can manifest similarly to race-based hate crimes, but they can also appear in more insidious and intimate ways – including through intimate/domestic partner violence and financial abuse – and therefore benefit from different strategies and support systems. A Garcia administration would ensure that those who are vulnerable to gender-based violence or who may be victims of such crimes have access to the benefits,  shelter, counseling, and/or legal support that they need.


Question 9

What is your vision for preventing and reducing the crimes of sexual assault and rape? Other than improving the transparency and effectiveness of the criminal justice system, what multidimensional and innovative plans of action will you specifically implement?

We need to continue to dismantle the culture that allows these crimes to occur unpunished, and frequently at the expense of the victim. Sexual assault and rape pervade so many of our spaces — from food service, to academia, to entertainment, to government. We need to send the message to potential perpetrators that these crimes have consequences. We must encourage reporting of crimes, and in order to do so, we need to ensure victims know their allegations will be taken seriously, and offer meaningful protection from retaliation and other threats. 


Question 10

Violent crime has risen to alarming levels, and home burglaries are up. What is your plan for reducing gun violence, sex crimes, and assaults/muggings that instill fear in the public and harm quality of life for city residents?

We must hold the NYPD accountable for driving down crime. That means we must reimagine  COMPSTAT to measure what we want to see- crime reduction, and positive community engagement. At the same time, we must address the primary socio-economic drivers of crime: lack of access to housing,  education, and jobs.  

What is it going to take to keep our communities safe? We need an experienced leader who is ready to work with the police union to get results. I am the only candidate that has the commitment and the experience to get it done. As the leader of a uniform agency with a 98% male force and law enforcement division, I was tough but fair–and fired Sanitation Workers that broke the rules. Right now we are seeing many retirements in the upper ranks at NYPD- which means we have many opportunities to promote cops that exhibit what we want to see and change the culture to be a service to communities.  

Key immediate steps to refocus the agency and drive down crime include: 

  • Reimagine COMPSTAT to include crime reduction, reduction of aggressive policing, and community engagement.
  • Reward officers for driving down crime, not making arrests, and promote officers who embody the guardian mindset.

● Address gang and gun violence with solutions that interrupt the cycle, such as the Bronx Connect  “Release the Grip” program, which trains credible messengers such as formerly incarcerated individuals to intervene in conflict before gun violence happens. Fund Cure Violence groups that mediate conflict and connect people to resources, from education to legal assistance, and violence interrupters.


Question 11

How will you work to rebuild trust between the community and law enforcement, while also ensuring accountability for police misconduct, police brutality and sexual assault?

Within the first 100 days, I would replace NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea. I resigned from City Hall because of mismanagement at the most senior level. Lack of management translates to chaos for the public: our experience last year with school closures, vaccination and bungled protest response is a direct result of the complete lack of direction from City Hall. Mayor de Blasio has completely lost control of the  NYPD. I believe it is time for new leadership at the Department, and I have seen first hand the difference that new leadership can bring to a uniform agency. When I joined Sanitation, there was barely any use of technology in the operations and I was told it would be “impossible” – but I worked hand in hand with labor to bring our entire operation into the 21st century.

Additionally, I would work to overcome the “us vs. them” mindset by implementing the following reforms:  (1) Require NYC residency for new cops and increase community policing – we need every member of the  NYPD to be fully bought into rebuilding the City and fully committed to the community they serve. (2)  Increase the recruitment age from 21 to 25–the age at which you can rent a car – Police officers face the most challenging moments of the human condition; we need to make sure new recruits have life and job experiences that bring a mature perspective.

I will use my experience managing a uniform agency to hold police officers accountable with clear and consistent consequences and a zero tolerance policy for depraved acts. I am the only candidate that has both the commitment and the practical experience to reform the NYPD and keep our communities safe. As the leader of a uniform agency with a 98% male force and law enforcement division, I was tough but fair — and fired Sanitation Workers that crossed the line. That’s what accountability looks like. Just like I held  Sanitation Workers accountable for showing up on time to work, I will have a zero tolerance policy for police officers that don’t follow the law.


Question 12

In 2019 alone there was a 52% increase in DV homicides and 911 received upwards of 800 DV calls a day. What is your plan to prevent, identify and keep women safe from abusive intimate partners?

The pandemic lockdown has been a nightmare for so many victims of domestic violence. We need to ensure that DV victims have a simple way to report crime, a safe place for them (and their children, if  necessary) to stay, and a full suite of support services (economic, mental health, etc.) to help them get out of dangerous situations.  

When there is a 911 call for domestic violence, we must embed qualified professionals to help address non-violent situations. Each year we have tens of thousands of calls that don’t require an armed professional–and we can use data and predictive analytics to make sure that we are sending a combined team of mental health professionals and police officers to the calls that are most likely to need that combination. Having trained experts responding to these 911 calls will be critical for identifying situations that may need additional intervention.


Question 13

Opioid deaths have ravished communities throughout NYC. In the first two months of 2020, 440 people died. How will you tackle this continuing public health crisis? What will you do differently than the outgoing administration to save lives?

The War on Drugs has failed too many communities across the country, and we need a new approach.  Addiction is a public health issue that needs to be met with a public health response. We need to expand harm reduction efforts by enhancing our public hospital system and networks of nonprofit experts to change the narrative surrounding drug use. Communities that have been ravaged by disproportionate enforcement of drug crimes should benefit most from the revenue that will be generated by eventual legalization of marijuana. Not only must we offer compassionate, tailored treatment options, but we also must address many of the underlying causes of drug use by ensuring every New Yorker has access to housing, comprehensive healthcare, jobs with quality benefits, and other vital support systems. We need to implement data-driven policies that work.


Question 14

NYPD and EMT responded to all 154,000 mental health calls in 2020, how will you expand and strengthen Mayor de Blasio’s test programs to keep NYC police out of mental health crisis calls?

As I shared above with DV 911 calls, we can fundamentally change policing by embedding qualified professionals that can help address non-violent situations, focusing on mental health and domestic violence. Each year we have tens of thousands of calls that don’t require an armed professional–and we can use data and predictive analytics to make sure that we are sending a combined team of mental health professional and police officer to the calls that are most likely to need that combination. The close working relationship between civilian and uniformed professionals will help shift the culture from a  “warrior” to “guardian” mindset.


Question 15

According to the Coalition for the Homeless, “In January 2021, there were 55,915 homeless people, including 17,645 homeless children, sleeping each night in the New York City municipal shelter system”. What do you plan to do differently than the current administration to combat the issue of homelessness, particularly houselessness among women and households headed by single women with children in NYC?

My administration will start shifting meaningful resources from a shelter-based homelessness response to a solution that focuses on permanent housing. We need to address street homelessness as a housing issue, with urgency and compassion, and the right solutions for families, single individuals and people living with mental illness. My administration will build 10,000 units of supportive housing to provide permanent shelter, services and support for people experiencing street homelessness and those most at risk — including buying empty or underused private properties for conversion. For families, women and children, we will ensure wraparound services in shelters, including education, health, and job readiness.  We will open 10 drop-in centers in key neighborhoods to provide bathrooms and critical services 24 hours a day and begin the engagement process to get homeless New Yorkers into shelter. We will ensure that homeless services and economic development and housing all report into the same deputy mayor, who will be held accountable to treating housing issues with one comprehensive approach. Finally, we will expand support for the 140 NYC schools with more than 20% homeless students. Before COVID, 1 in 10  students were doubled up, living in a shelter, or unsheltered; we cannot blame teachers for low performance in schools. We need to expand support for these schools and provide practical necessities, like installing a washer and dryer.

Education & Childcare

Question 16

In NYC, less than half of 3rd to 8th grade students are meeting proficiency standards on ELA or Math state exams. Rates are far lower for Black and Hispanic students. What is your plan for achieving an educational system where all public school students are meeting or exceeding basic standards, regardless of race, income or zip code?

My administration will implement childcare and early childhood education for all, with early intervention services integrated so that we can maximize literacy rates and ensure the best outcomes. We need structural change that will desegregate and incentivize better educational outcomes at every single school in the city, so that families feel confident that the closest school to their home will provide a quality education for their child.  

First, I would accelerate our Universal Literacy goal to 2023. We can’t wait until after the end of my first administration to reach this goal; we know what works — equipping teachers with science-backed curricula based in phonics — to reach 100% of students reading on grade level by end of 2nd grade- when students start reading for information- by 2023.

At the middle school level, we will build new high schools in every borough for the top 10% of 8th graders,  and ending screens on a district by district level in consultation with parents. At the high school level, we also need to reward schools that demonstrate progress with students entering at lower proficiency levels and ensure students at all high schools have access to rigorous and specialized courses taught by teachers that are strongest at online learning — one of the benefits of virtual learning that we can carry forward. At the elementary school level, we need to expand challenging offerings and enrichment opportunities at all schools and do a better job matching students of color with those opportunities.

Our education policy must be focused on rebuilding a more equitable city and preparing our kids to succeed in the 21st century economy with a focus on youth talent development. We would expand the summer youth employment program to include partnerships with the private sector, in particular those industries that make our City exceptional: finance, arts, technology, healthcare, film and media. In addition, we would create a pipeline from CUNY colleges and trade schools to jobs, including guaranteeing graduates of our trades schools City employment and work with the private sector to offer  10,000 paid internships to high school students. Finally, we will invest to place work-based learning coordinators at all high schools and subsidize wages for youth who face barriers to employment.


Question 17

Five years after graduates filed a complaint that their Yeshivas didn’t provide a basic education as required by law, the city produced a report that found 26 of 28 Yeshivas investigated still did not meet Substantial Equivalency standards. Beyond “working with Yeshiva leaders” what will you do differently than Mayor De Blasio to get compliance?

Only half of students in the DOE system meet the State’s bar for proficiency for english and math. We have major shortcomings that we need to address within the City’s education system at large, and we need to be vigilant about bias and assumptions about religious education. Rather, we should approach improving secular education in partnership with the educators at Jewish private schools in New York City.

The majority of our city’s parochial schools, including yeshivas, are providing a strong educational foundation for the children whose parents have chosen a non-traditional public school environment.  Under my administration, the DOE’s Division of Nonpublic Schools will work closely with the Standing  Committee of Nonpublic School Officials to ensure that the city is using every tool we have to ensure that all schools have access to every resource and educational service possible.


Question 18

Teen pregnancy, dating violence, prostitution and online sex harassment continue to derail students’ abilities to learn and live free of violence and abuse. What is your plan to ensure age-appropriate sex education and a healthy relationships curriculum is mandated and delivered to every NYC child?

Every student should have access to education on sexual and reproductive health. Under New York  State law, all students in Kindergarten – 12th grade must have health education as part of their education. Part of my plan to end the maternal mortality gap starts early- I will require comprehensive sexuality education in grades K-12 and provide teens with access to confidential reproductive health care services, including contraception.


Question 19

What will you do to address the child care crisis that hinders women’s workforce participation, economic stability for families, and access to quality and affordable early education for children?

We are in a childcare crisis. We have 1 in 4 women considering stepping back from their careers today,  and unemployment due to COVID-19 has impacted women much more than it has men. Part of any economic recovery and equity plan must include an expansion on Pre-K for all to include free childcare for ages 1-3 for all families with income less than $70k. Free childcare is key to economic mobility.


Question 20

Please describe what steps you will take to address the disproportionate amount of Black and Brown girls who are pushed out of school and into the juvenile detention system. What do you intend to do to stop the school to prison pipeline?

When it comes to school safety, Black children have experienced school as a hostile environment – an institution that is about control and regulation. We need to end the school-to-prison pipeline by reforming school safety and discipline policies, so that students are not arrested for behavior that is best addressed by school officials. We also need to develop direct pathways to colleges and careers for these students,  including leveraging New York City’s private sector. Lastly, we must do a better job of making sure teachers and school employees better reflect their school communities- that means being intentional about creating pipelines out of CUNY for teachers of color. We know that students of color perform better and are more likely to succeed when their teachers are of color.


Question 21

Do you support decriminalizing sex buying and promoting prostitution, and why? If decriminalized, would you designate a sex trade zone? Would you license brothels and collect taxes? What would be the process to decide which neighborhoods would be deemed commercial sex districts?

I believe we owe it to our children to build a world without trafficking and exploitation. As long as there is a global sex trade and we have a demand for prostitution, we will have victims of an industry that does not create a lifelong path to economic mobility and health. In my administration, sex workers will have the comprehensive support they need to exit exploitative systems and rebuild their lives. I do not support commercial sex districts in New York City, licensed brothels or sex trade zones. I support the Sex Trade  Survivors Justice & Equality Act.


Question 22

Please describe what makes you uniquely qualified to lead New York City at this time.

I’m a lifelong New Yorker who has dedicated her life to public service, not politics. I have the most  experience in city government and crisis management of any candidate running for Mayor. Over the last  14 years, I have served as Sanitation Commissioner and Food Czar during the pandemic; Interim NYCHA  Chair and Lead Czar; and Chief Operating Officer of the Department of Environmental Protection. I’m  running for Mayor because I love New York, and our City needs a crisis manager who will be ready to get  to work on day one to build back our City better than before.  

My vision for New York City is one that has economic mobility for all. This means good jobs- nothing is affordable if you don’t have good employment; dignified housing with paths to ownership for Black and  Latino communities; a resilient City that is a leader in climate change and the green economy; an accountable police force; and job pipelines into both the public and private sector for justice involved youth, CUNY college students, and trade school students.

I believe that government should be invisible if it works well–that we should get out of your way and do our jobs humbly, with no ego, and no expectation of praise for a job well done. Government is about improving the condition of people’s lives, and that’s what I’m going to deliver.

As Mayor my top three priorities will be: a strong recovery, economic mobility and fighting climate change.  

The key to our recovery is to provide the necessary support and day to day quality of life investments— clean parks, safe transit, reliable childcare, access to fresh healthy foods—that allow all New Yorkers to thrive. We need to provide these services more efficiently than ever before, and that is what I have done in the City for more than 14 years. The government must deliver clean and safe streets, sidewalks and transit – this is fundamental to reopening our city and getting New Yorkers back to work.  

I have an ambitious vision for job growth in the City that delivers economic mobility for all–because nothing is affordable if you don’t have good employment. I have committed to building a pipeline from our  City’s community colleges and trade schools to good-paying jobs in biotech, green infrastructure and renewable energy, including guaranteeing graduates of our trade schools a path to City employment. I will work with the private sector to offer 10,000 paid internships to high school students, and subsidize wages for youth who face barriers to employment. Getting job experience in high school puts our youth on the right track to a career.  

I am the candidate with the most city government and crisis management experience, having spent 14  years in public service–not politics. We win by staying laser focused on the practical and progressive solutions that voters demand, and only an experienced executive that has already been accountable to every single New Yorker can deliver. Our campaign will continue to lay out clear and measurable plans for every policy area and communicate the steps I will take to lead a fast and equitable recovery. Our campaign has broad appeal, which is critical in a ranked choice vote election.