Sam Roberts on New York City’s Mayoral Candidates!

Dear Commons Community,

Long-time urban affairs editor for the New York Times (and formerly with The Daily News) has a piece today on the New York City mayoral candidates.  He comments about the uncertainty among New York City voters:

“For all the illusion that politics is irrational blood sport, arguably every New York mayoral election over the last century was won by a candidate who offered a clear alternative to his predecessor. The candidacies — at least in retrospect — seemed to provide voters with a logical rationale. Not all of them fulfilled their promise, but what they appeared to offer as candidates meshed most with New Yorkers’ perception of what they wanted that year in a mayor, whether it was a cheerleader in chief or a soothing provider of balm.

What’s especially striking about the congested 2013 elbow-to-elbow mayoral field is that with so many candidates and with the primary less than two months away, polls suggest that voters seem uncertain even about which qualities they want in the next mayor, much less which candidate can deliver.”

He observes:

“Twelve years after Mr. Bloomberg was first elected, New York seems a little like France did a year ago, weary of the flamboyance of Nicolas Sarkozy and longing for a return to “normalcy” after a whirlwind two decades of Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Bloomberg. As a criterion in choosing a mayor of New York, normalcy can be extremely subjective.

However the campaign unfolds this time, it will play into the public perception of each candidate’s peculiar narrative: among them, Christine C. Quinn’s grit (tempered by her tender embrace of Mr. Bloomberg’s third term and political agenda); Bill de Blasio’s populism; William C. Thompson Jr.’s maturity (amid increasing contentiousness among the candidates, and fiscal uncertainty, he may come across as the most grown-up); Anthony Weiner’s appeal as an outsider and his rugged, even untethered, individualism; John C. Liu’s espousal of unabashed liberalism; and, if he wins the Republican nomination, Joseph J. Lhota’s managerial credentials.

What New Yorkers want after 12 years of a Bloomberg administration that posited itself as apolitical is clearly someone else — though someone who will not return the city to the “bad old days” before Mr. Giuliani; also, as a New York Times and Siena College poll suggested last week, someone who is more warm and fuzzy and can move the city in some vague new direction.

“So what is the theme for 2013?… “Maintaining the status quo while doing a few things better seems to be the prevailing mood — a less compelling theme than in some years, so harder to call.”

I would agree with Roberts that New Yorkers want someone who can manage the city but also want someone who can relate to and understands the needs of all the people.


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