Star of Travel Channel's "Baggage Battles", Founder of Billy's Antiques, Defender of the Old New York
For the upcoming mayoral election, who are you voting for and why? I'm a royalist, but since I'm American and 100% New Yorker, Bill de Blasio has my vote. He does not seem to be the puppet of the rich.
How involved do you get in municipal politics? When Billy's was opened…a lot ! I was very active with The Bowery Alliance of Neighbors. I could not stand how the neighborhood was changing...so I closed and became a TV personality.
How have you seen your neighborhood change under Mayor Bloomberg? Bloomberg has ruined New York and turned into a gated community! He must have a small man complex. He thinks by imposing his will on people he can get them to change. His latest moronic invention is the Citibike.
What would be the first item on your platform if you were running for Mayor? I would go back to the the old New York exactly like Lhota's new ad campaign: "Take New York Backwards." It's the New York I yearn for. That campaign completely backfired on him… what a bonehead!
// Photo courtesy of Todd Crusham //
Independent Filmmaker, creator of "Gut Renovation," a documentary about the gentrification of Williamsburg.
Who are you voting for and why?
Bill de Blasio (because my choice, Bill Thompson, didn't win the primary). And Letitia James for Public Advocate because, among other things, she fought so hard against the Atlantic Yards "development."
What's the most important issue for you this election?
That the new administration doesn't continue the same policies about housing, about stop & frisk, and about a hundred other things.
How have you seen your neighborhood change under Mayor Bloomberg?
Well, I lived in Williamsburg before he was mayor, and I was forced out while he was mayor, so maybe that's enough said. But not really enough, is it? I've seen so much of NY turned into a much more expensive and bland city during his tenure (and the tenure of his head of City Planning, Amanda Burden). I'm happy about the bike lanes – which are so often cited as one of the good things he's done — but they sure don't compensate for NY becoming a much less affordable city for the middle and working class.
What would be the first item on your platform if you were running for Mayor?
I wouldn't dream of running for mayor of this city or any other.
// Photo courtesy of Cynthia Lugo //
Owner of Veselka, Iconic East Village Ukrainian Diner
Who are you voting for and why? I haven't decided yet. It's a tough choice for me. I liked Giuliani. I liked Bloomberg, with some reservations. The main quality I am looking for in a candidate is someone who is really a good manager. I will probably research one or two days before the election. I belong to an organization called Transportation Alternatives. I'm sure that they will endorse a candidate. I will probably vote for that candidate.
What's the most important issue for you this election? Bicyclist and pedestrian safety. Effective management of city agencies. Making sure that all the services we require for the quality of life are delivered, and delivered economically. Education is also very important - I have five children who all grew up in New York and all went to public school. I think that the quality of education can still be improved a lot.
How have you seen your neighborhood change under Mayor Bloomberg? This neighborhood has gone through a lot of changes. The changes started before Bloomberg, but Bloomberg has increased pressure for development. A Catholic church was just recently demolished. It wasn't terribly historically significant, but we tried to save it and we failed. The pressure for development and for high-rent housing is big. That's the main thing I've seen under Bloomberg — that pressure for luxury development increasing. Originally when I came here in 1968 this was a working class neighborhood. Starting in about 1980 the gentrification started, and that's been continuing until now.
What would be the first item on your platform if you were running for Mayor? If I were running for Mayor — which I wouldn't, I don't want that job — more bike lanes and fewer cars. I know that's not such a big issue, but for me it's important.
// Photo by Kateryna Panova //
Founder and Owner of Heritage Foods USA, Supplier for Restaurants like Momosushi, Roberta's, and Gramercy Tavern.
Who are you voting for and why? Bill de Blasio — I think it's important to vote with party lines. New York, being a Democrat bastion, should have a Democrat mayor. I also think de Blasio would make a better mayor.
What's the most important issue for you this election? Improving and expanding the highway systems in Brooklyn and Queens, and basically helping improve the commute for the other four boroughs. Manhattan gets a lot of attention, as it should and deserves, but I think sometimes city moneys don't come to people who have to drive the furthest to work. Keep public transit improving too. I mean, when the L goes down, it's a total nightmare. So, all types of transportation.
How involved do you get in municipal politics? All of those politicians have probably eaten the food at one of the eighty restaurants we sell to every week. I like that, that our contribution to municipal politics is the pleasure at the table during high-powered meetings.
How have you seen your neighborhood change under Mayor Bloomberg? He kept things steady after taking over from Giuliani. The Second Avenue subway line is pretty big in terms of sticking with public projects. And I think he kept things safe. In 100 years, people are going to look to the new World Trade Center and the Path Train. But his biggest contribution has been his environmental stuff, like bike lanes, even though I don't always agree with them.
What would be the first item on your platform if you were running for Mayor? Personally – not speaking for all New Yorkers by any means — a dedication to the arts and schools. Tiered music programs, the YMCAs, after-school projects, movie rental equipment for kids in the inner cities, all these progressive things that keep people engaged and aspiring to accomplish great things.
// Photo courtesy of Charles Steinberg //
Pastor "Rick": Entrepreneur, Cmmunity Organizer, and First Responder for 31 years. Candidate for NYC City Council.
What's the most important issue for you this election? Affordable housing, responsible economic development, and education.
How have you seen your neighborhood change under Mayor Bloomberg? Lower East Side and East Village gentrification has accelerated under Bloomberg. Much of the community has been sanitized; growing economic disparities have created tensions that simmer just beneath the surface. In the last decade, we have suffered the elimination of youth and after-school programs, recreational and community spaces, and the continual deterioration of living conditions for NYCHA residents. Yet Bloomberg proposes to build luxury apartments in the middle of low-income housing, which will result in further loss of open spaces, recreation areas, and ball fields; jobless rates remain stagnant as homelessness has soared; and our schools continue to underserve 75% of our children.
What would be the first item on your platform if you were running for Mayor? Changing NYC's affordable housing rules to reflect current economic realities. Shifting priorities at the Department of Education from testing companies and Edu-crats to students, parents, and communities.
// Photo by Jonathen Adkins //
Owner of Cafe Grumpy and Roastery, Based in Greenpoint (Expanded Throughout New York)
Who are you voting for and why? That will remain between me and the voting booth!
What's the most important issue for you this election? Planning for environmental and economic sustainability, and the support of small business and industry in NYC.
How involved do you get in municipal politics? I like to stay up to date with current issues and events that affect the different neighborhoods our cafes are located in...and I never take the opportunity to vote for granted.
How have you seen your neighborhood change under Mayor Bloomberg? NYC has faced many challenges during Mayor Bloomberg's terms, but always emerges better than before. NYC continues to be the most innovative and dynamic city in the world.
What would be the first item on your platform if you were running for Mayor? This wouldn't get me many votes, but I would focus on the working infrastructure. I know we could all benefit from some preventative maintenance.
Co-founder and President of Brooklyn Brewery
Who are you voting for and why? Bill de Blasio – because his "tale of two cities" makes sense to me.
What's the most important issue for you this election? Jobs.
How involved do you get in municipal politics? I write a monthly column in Crain's and I contribute to candidates.
How have you seen your neighborhood change under Mayor Bloomberg? My neighborhood, Gowanus, has blossomed in the past decade.
What would be the first item on your platform if you were running for Mayor? Jobs.
// Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Brewery //