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Queens Chronicle

QUEENS VOTES 2019 De Blasio issue No.1 in Ulrich campaign

Race for public advocate needs to be referendum on mayor’s ‘failure’

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Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2019 10:30 am

The field of candidates running for public advocate next month is starting to resemble the start of the New York City marathon. So Eric Ulrich, the three-term Council member from Ozone Park, has found a simple message to stand out.

“If people love Mayor de Blasio, if they think he’s doing a great job and think the city is headed in the right direction, then they have 20 other candidates to pick from,” he said in an interview this week with the Queens Chronicle.

“If someone is looking for someone to be a public advocate [who] is not afraid to be independent of the mayor, then I’m their candidate. That’s why I’m running.”

Ulrich, one of only a handful of elected Republican officials in the city, believes he can win the race for one of New York’s three citywide offices by playing up his differences with de Blasio.

“The mayor is more interested in raising his national profile than in governing the city day to day,” said Ulrich bluntly.

Ulrich, who turns 34 two weeks before the special election February 26, is a popular figure in his South Queens Council district after his surprise victory in a 2009 special election and then winning re-election three times in an area that is overwhelmingly Democratic.

He is barred by term limits from running for City Council again when his current term expires in 2021.

The public advocate election was called earlier this month to fill the seat left vacant by Letitia James, who ran for state attorney general last fall and won.

In a one-hour interview at the Chronicle about his campaign for public advocate, Ulrich ranged over a number of topics. Here’s a summary of what he said.

On homelessness:

“The lack of affordable housing is definitely ... contributing to the homelessness crisis. We don’t have a real robust city and state rental subsidy program anymore to help people afford the high rents and stay in their apartments.

“No wonder the fastest-growing population in the homeless system is women and children. These were people who were one pay check away from becoming homeless in the first place.

“Let’s bring back rental subsidies that work, that allow people to live in their own communities with dignity and support their families. And it would cost us half the amount it currently costs to house them in a Holiday Inn.”

On transportation:

“Here’s an area where [the mayor] has three appointees on the MTA board. The governor has a lot more power than he does but [de Balsio] has not used his role as mayor as a bully pulpit to improve the subway and bus system. He absolutely can do what other mayors have done. [Past mayors] have either failed or succeeded but they were able to use the power that they had.”

On his controversial opposition to investigations of Orthodox Jewish yeshivas:

“The mistake the state made was to paint all yeshivas and religious schools with the same brush, to give the impression that yeshivas in general are not educating children up to state standards.

“All these kids are graduating, they’re going on to college ... There is no shortage of Jewish dentists, doctors and lawyers coming out of the yeshiva system. Whatever they’re doing, it must be working.”

On scrapping the Specialized High School Admissions Test:

“The critique there are not enough students of color participarting in [elite schools] is a failure on the city’s part. We have failed in preparing them to take this exam and to improve the schools in those communities where those students are coming from.

“The SHSAT is a color-blind test and if there aren’t enough seats [in specialized high schools], lets make more seats.

“To suggest Asians are not minorities, for instance, or that Latinos or Guyanese who attended Stuvesant or Brooklyn Tech are not counted as minorities is very offensive to these communities.

“The mayor and the Education Department like to divide communities That’s how they win elections and get headlines.”

On closing Rikers Island:

“Rikers needs an extreme makeover, a complete renovation.

“I don’t want to see the community jails and I don’t trust this administration quite frankly because of how they’ve gone about siting homeless shelters.

“Is [Rikers] outdated? Does it need to be made safer, cleaner for the inmates and the employees? Absoluely. I don’t think we’ve spent nearly enough money there on the capital needs and the maintenance of the buildings.

“But close it? That’s just the mayor pandering to the progressive wing of the Democratic party. It’s what he does best.”

On legalizing pot:

“I don’t support legalization of marijuana. I do support decriminalization.

“Make it a civil violation or penalty. I don’t want people smoking it in public, in front of children or in parks and other places.

“But there’s no reason people should be spending three, four, five nights in Rikers Island because they couldn’t afford cash bail after they got caught smoking weed in Central Park in the middle of the night.

“But the full legalization of marijuana I think is a slippery slope. I think it is a gateway drug.

“The government would be endorsing and encouraging people to light up and that’s not something, as a parent, I want my daughter doing.”

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1 comment:

  • pvrjr posted at 5:38 am on Sun, Jan 20, 2019.

    pvrjr Posts: 278

    No duh: Its #CuomosMTA of course. [wink]