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What Up, G?

Gifford Miller tries to get out the youth vote; promises faster subway, cheaper apartments.

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The last time someone Gifford Miller’s age won City Hall was in 1913, when John Purroy Mitchel, 35, became known as “the Boy Mayor.” Judging by his poll numbers, “Boy Council Speaker” Miller, who’s also 35, has some work to do if he hopes to follow in Mitchel’s footsteps. So Miller is trying to turn his youth into an asset. In May, his campaign will launch a series of events designed to appeal to what it has dubbed “Generation G.” As in Gifford. He’s recruited Karenna Gore Schiff and Eric Villency to help. Miller spoke with Greg Sargent.

What the heck is “Generation G” anyway?
It’s not Generation X or Y. It’s a broader group of young people, some of whom got into politics during the last presidential election and are looking to stay involved.

Aren’t you just trying to turn your greatest liability—your age—into a strength?
Many cities have elected people in their thirties as mayor.

Not cities hit by a terrorist attack.
Clearly, I need to convince people I can make tough decisions if something terrible happens. But this is not just about my campaign. The last mayor who inspired young people to enter local government was John Lindsay. We need young people to value public service again.

So how will you appeal to them?
With events modeled on Dean’s approach—meet-ups in galleries and bars.

But what local issues could possibly get them to attend a meet-up?
Many young professionals aren’t sending their kids to public schools. They get stuck on the subway because nobody’s supporting the transit system. They’re paying huge amounts for housing. A mayor can make a big difference on those—but Bloomberg says you can’t solve problems. He’ll say, “It’ll take a long time to reform the schools.”

And young people are impatient. You’ve been in a problem-solving position for three years, yet very few New Yorkers know your name.
Well, most people don’t read the “Metro” section as carefully as you and I do.

Okay, as long as we’re talking to the young people, tell them what’s on your iPod.
I don’t have an iPod. I’m old school. I’m all about eight-track.


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