Photo by Jon Cronin
BY JON CRONIN
Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island), who is the Republican nominee in this fall’s mayoral race, has no qualms about putting Mayor Bill de Blasio’s feet to the fire regarding what she sees as failed policies.
She said that she wants the position since she believes that the city deserves “someone who actually cares about doing the job.”
Malliotakis, who dropped by the Queens Tribune last Thursday for a discussion on her candidacy, referenced the reports that de Blasio said, “Read my lips, I don’t care,” in response to a question about whether he knew the subway was cleared by the city’s Police Department during his F train ride through Manhattan.
She criticized de Blasio for recently leaving the city to travel to Germany and attend the G8 Summit after NYPD officer Miosotis Familia was murdered in the Bronx and the subway system was in the midst of a crisis.
“After the assassination of a police officer, he’s on a plane to Germany,” she said. “He’s playing New Yorkers for fools. If all these things were going smoothly, I could understand what he did.”
Malliotakis criticized the mayor’s inability to get along with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and said that he had mismanaged the four seats he had appointed to the state-controlled MTA board.
“He thinks he can just win because he’s a Democrat,” Malliotakis said about the mayoral race. “He’s spent our money improperly. Spending is at a 22 percent increase and property taxes have increased 28 percent. We’re not getting results. Things are not better. He’s throwing more money at problems, hoping that something sticks, rather than addressing problems.”
She believes that the homeless crisis in the city is partially caused by high property taxes that plague home and property owners. To curtail the problem, she said that the city should “not be building 90 homeless shelters”—but, instead, supportive housing. Malliotakis pointed out that de Blasio went to Albany to campaign against a property tax cap.
“De Blasio made class warfare worse,” she said. “This mayor ran on the promise of lifting people out of poverty and ‘a tale of two cities’—but it’s a tale of de Blasio and his donors versus everyone else.”
Malliotakis said that she has spoken to people running the city’s shelters and found that many of the homeless are looking for job-skills programs which unfortunately have long waiting lists. As way to support them, she said that she would put money towards technical and vocational job-training classes.
“We’re spending $500,000 per night on hotel rooms,” she said. “We should be looking to get people a skill where they can support themselves, rather than have a life of poverty.”
Malliotakis does not support a minimum wage of $15 an hour and said that minimum wage “was not meant to support a family.”
Although the mayor boasts of the highest graduation rate in the city’s history, Malliotakis said that this is a result of his having lowered the standards for graduation. She claimed that 80 percent of college freshman who graduated from city high schools need remedial classes in order to succeed at the college level.
She believes that the money put into the city’s education system is not “trickling down into the classroom.” Although she is in favor of it, Malliotakis initially voted against mayoral control of public schools in Albany, so that the legislature could investigate city Department of Education spending.
“There’s so much bureaucracy, they don’t know where it’s all going,” she said.
Malliotakis is also opposed to the mayor’s plan to eventually close Rikers Island.
“It needs to be made more humane,” she said. “I don’t support more community jails.”
She also disagrees with de Blasio’s policy to decriminalize low-level crimes such as turnstile jumping and public urination.
“Civil penalties don’t work,” she said, “There has to be a reasonable compromise.”
Asked if she would keep current NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill if she is elected, she said that she would consider it.
“I would have to have a conversation with him,” she said. “I respect him. It’s not out of the question.”
Malliotakis’ mother immigrated to the United States from Cuba and her father from Greece. She is proud that they never took public assistance and happy that her parents can see their daughter, a first-generation American, in the state Assembly and now running for mayor of the five boroughs. She said she does not support President Donald Trump’s new policy seeking skilled and English- proficient immigrants and added that her “parents probably couldn’t pass it.”
She noted that, as a Republican, she may have a better chance advocating for the city with Trump and Cuomo, once again citing de Blasio’s relationship with the governor. She also noted that Trump was not her first choice for the GOP’s 2016 presidential ticket.
“I’ll stand up against Donald Trump to protect the city,” she said. “I was the state chairwoman for Marco Rubio and then didn’t endorse anyone after that.”
Reach Jon Cronin at 718-357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin.