The newest and most controversial candidate in the mayoral race, Anthony Weiner, said he knows he’s got a lot to prove but believes New Yorkers will be looking forward when choosing the next mayor.
“We’re making a big mistake if we think that voters are looking to the past,” Weiner said in a sitdown Friday with the Queens Chronicle editorial staff, the first of his candidacy. “When they go to flip that switch, it is a fundamental, forward-looking, aspirational thing.”
The former congressman, who was pressured to resign after accidentally leaking sexually suggestive photos onto the public section of his Twitter account, announced his candidacy on Wednesday with a focus on the middle class.
“The pillars of middle-class life, the things that have made this the middle class capital of the world are crumbling before our eyes,” he said. “This notion of finding an affordable place to live, getting a decent education and being able to find a good job with good benefits has been the underpinning of the social ladder that has allowed people to come into the middle class. If you look at today, all three of those things are to some degree or another, out of reach to a lot of New Yorkers.”
Weiner, a longtime resident of Forest Hills, now lives in Manhattan with his wife, Huma Abedin, and their 2-year-old son, Jordan.
“After all that has happened, I think my wife has earned the right to decide to move us to Manhattan so she can be closer with her family,” he said.
While he says he has regained the trust of his family, he acknowledges that he will have to work to gain the trust of the people again.
“I guess what I’m saying is to start with, I know I need to regain their trust and I would hope they would look at this through the lens of my career, they would look at this personal failing, I hope, in context of the things I’ve done to fight for them and fight for them but I know a lot of people will read these words in the Chronicle and say ‘I’m never going to vote for that guy again.’”
Weiner’s first day of campaigning, yesterday, was a bumpy one as he received a lot of flack from other politicians. New York Gov. Cuomo made one of the more notable statements when asked what his thoughts if Weiner is elected into office.
“Shame on us,” he said during the interview.
Cuomo later stated that it was a joke, and Weiner accepted the comment as such.
Along with a YouTube video announcing his run, Weiner released an idea book entitled, “Keys to the City: 64 Ideas to Keep New York the Capital of the Middle Class” as a way to outline his plans for the city. The ideas were bundled into 12 umbrella issues: education, hunger, transportation, small business, New York City/ Albany/ Washington, health care, safety and crime prevention, reform and transparency, housing, environment, job retention and creation, and tax reform.
“We have to constantly be doing in government what is commonplace in households and what is commonplace in business and that is saying what’s working and what ain’t,” Weiner said when asked how he would prioritize city funding.
One system Weiner mentioned that many believe isn’t working is the process of school suspension, an issue he addresses in his idea book.
“I believe one child in the back of the classroom is disruptive,” Weiner said. “Now, the child has some rights and you can’t toss them out onto the street but let’s make clear here that there is another constituency being affected here that isn’t the student doing the disrupting. It’s the class; it’s the teacher trying to teach the class. Now, I would agree that there are some fundamental issues with the suspension process but it is imperative that the teacher be able to teach and that the classroom not be disruptive.”
He also briefly addressed his concern over the United States Tennis Association stadium expansion proposal for Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
“I think that the U.S. Open is a valuable asset to our community and to our city and it has grown and become a fixture in our lives and I am cautiously supportive of expanding the USTA further, but I reserve the right to look into it more further and explore the arguments from both sides.”
He spoke similarly on the Major League Soccer stadium proposal in the park.
“I think that there has been an important change in tone by the sponsors in the project I think that if this business wants to find a place to play 25 soccer game each year, I’d have some reservations. If they were looking to build a home, then I think we should welcome them.”
Weiner did say he was enjoying his time in the outer boroughs and getting the opportunity to speak with a local paper.
“Being out in Queens, and Brooklyn and Riverdale, this is the way you’ve got to run a campaign,” he said. “You can just as easily talk to the New York Post but this is much more fruitful.”
Weiner’s odds of winning are not ideal but not impossible either. A recent poll released by Quinnipiac University shows Weiner with 15 percent of the vote, second only to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), even though she and other Democratic candidates Bill Thompson, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and City Controller John Liu have at least a month longer to appeal to voters.
A new Rasmussen poll released this week showed Quinn with 24 percent and Weiner with 18 percent.
Voting for the Democratic nominee will take place on September 12 and if none of the candidates receive at least 40 percent of the votes, the two top candidates will have a runoff, but Weiner was not focusing that far ahead.
“My goal is to get 100 percent of the vote,” he joked. “I’ve had good luck in campaigns, and what I will say is if you want to convince people that you’ll make a good mayor, you’ve got to talk about the issues everywhere and you’ve got to talk about them the same everywhere.”