★Preferred Candidate - Joseph Lhota - Rep★ Age: 58 Occupation: Full-time candidate Education: Georgetown University (BS, BA); Harvard University (MBA)
Joe Lhota has extensive public service experience. He most recently was the chairman of the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). He served as Deputy Mayor of Operations and budget director under Mayor Giuliani. Lhota also has experience in finance, developing financial vehicles to advance infrastructure projects, and worked for Cablevision and Madison Square Garden. On reform issues, Lhota supports nonpartisan elections. He believes the board of elections should be revamped to remove partisanship but recognizes this requires a change to state law. Lhota supports making the city’s budget more transparent by reforming the presentation of agency spending. He believes term limits should be put in place for state legislators. Beyond reform issues, Lhota’s top priorities are job creation, education and quality of life issues. Lhota will continue Mayor Bloomberg’s emphasis on diversifying the city’s economy through growing the high tech industry. Regarding education, Lhota supports mayoral control and wants to double the number of charter schools. He would replicate educational practices in other countries that devote many more hours to professional development of teachers. Lhota would utilize evaluations as a tool to improve teacher performance rather than as a disciplinary tool. Another Lhota priority is quality of life, which he defines as being inclusive of affordability issues as well as public safety. He supports mixed development with developers required to reserve 20-30 percent of new housing for low and middle-income residents. Lhota also believes properties of state authorities and closing post offices should be considered for development. Lhota supports clawback provisions in tax abatements to ensure affordable housing and other development agreements are honored. Lhota would improve communications as mayor, engaging communities more by visiting all the community boards in his first year. He was critical of Bloomberg’s siloed approach in managing agencies. He would encourage cross-agency collaboration and stressed follow-up and persistence as key to accomplishing his agenda. Citizens Union believes Lhota’s executive experience running the MTA and as Deputy Mayor of Operations will enable him to hit the ground running if elected. He has good track record of running operations and Citizens Union believes he is well suited to move agencies to administer his agenda should he be elected, an important skill in governing a city as large as New York, which is why we prefer him. His performance in leading the MTA’s response to Hurricane Sandy provides reassurance that Lhota could respond effectively if another calamity was to strike New York as well as manage other important aspects of the city.
Age: 65 Occupation: Chief Executive Officer, Red Apple Group Education: New York University (degree not provided)
John Catsimatidis came from humble origins and rose to become a billionaire. The son of a busboy, he got involved in the grocery business in college and later ran companies involved in that business as well as real estate and aviation. He stressed his record creating tens of thousands of jobs, all of which are unionized. Catsimatidis is still developing many of his views on Citizens Union’s reform agenda. During our interview, he expressed support for non-partisan elections at the municipal level, reforming the structure of the board of elections and independent budgeting for offices checking the mayor’s power. Upon taking office, Catsimatidis’ priorities would be public safety, labor negotiations, and freezing taxes. He thinks he can find money in the city’s budget by scrutinizing agency spending averting the need for tax increases. On education, Catsimatidis supports more career and technical programs and thinks parochial schools can serve as a model for public schools because they have higher graduation rates. He wants to ensure the best and brightest in society become teachers, believing only those with a B average in school should be certified. On economic development, Catsimatidis wants to hold another World’s Fair, comparing it to the failed Olympics bid in its ability to stimulate the economy. He believes monorails should be examined to provide transportation options instead of extending subway lines. Catismatidis touts his business experience and independence as positioning him to effectively run the city. He also claims he could work across party lines, citing his experience following Hurricane Sandy in helping Senator Schumer get Republican votes for federal aid. He believes he has the vision and boldness to try new things and the listening skills to bring people together. Citizens Union thinks Catsimatidis is passionate and his business success admirable, yet he lacks in-depth knowledge about the issues and how he would run city government.