Mateo & Sliwa Vie for Republican Nomination in Mayoral Primary


Fernando Mateo (above) and Curtis Sliwa (below) vie for nomination in the New York City Republican mayoral primary. (Courtesy of Instagram)

In an election dominated with coverage of the crowded field of Democratic candidates, two Republicans manage to stand out as viable candidates in the New York City mayoral primary elections.

Republican mayoral candidates are much less likely to win the general election. New York City, a historically Democratic city, has regularly elected Democratic mayors. The last NYC mayor to hold a Republican status for their full term was Rudy Giuliani between 1994 and 2001. Prior to Giuliani, NYC elected Democratic mayors for two full decades. Michael Bloomberg, Giuliani’s successor, was only Republican for the first six years of his 12-year service. Because of this precedent, media coverage surrounding the mayoral election has focused on the numerous Democratic candidates rather than the two Republicans.

Fernando Mateo, a member of the White House Presidential Scholars Commission under former President George W. Bush, and Curtis Sliwa, a founder of the New York City Guardian Angels, are competing in the Republican primary election in May.

Mateo’s campaign website refers to him as a “high-performing, civic-minded, serial entrepreneur,” and his list of experiences reflects his entrepreneurship. With a history that dates back to his teenage years as a small business proprietor in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Mateo has a track record that shows his capability as a businessman in New York City. As a business leader, Mateo has also made charitable contributions to the city, such as taking steps to protect taxi drivers as the President of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers and creating job-training programs for non-violent, first-offense inmates at Rikers Island.

Although Mateo’s political platform is not published on his campaign website, he has spoken out in interviews as to what he believes New York City needs moving forward. In an interview with Ben Max for GQ’s “Decision NYC,” Mateo stated the basics of his platform regarding public safety and tackling the rise of gun violence.

“I would look at quality of life issues. I would look at bail reform. I would look at how the recruits are being trained and how they’re being taught in the academy,” said Mateo.

Mateo’s plans for reforming the New York City Police Department are centered around removing NYPD leaders who he recognizes as not having done their job. Mateo says he would replace them with better leaders “so that you trickle down that good energy” to the rest of the police force.

“I would add thousands more cops to the police force,” Mateo promised.

Mateo’s plans for bolstering the NYPD may be a controversial move. As the incidence of police brutality is being increasingly spot lit by the media, many New Yorkers are beginning to call for the defunding of the NYPD.

In July 2020, the New York City budget was revised to remove up to $1 billion from the NYPD budget, though many have criticized the plan for not going far enough in its reform. Among those critics was the notable New York Civil Liberties Union. As for COVID-19 recovery, Mateo’s plans are focused on revitalizing struggling local businesses and helping bring back those that left as a result of the pandemic.

Mateo also describes himself as an “urban Republican,” a politician born from the city life of NYC that wants to re-engage the political legitimacy of Republicanism. “I am going to show this city that, having me as their urban Republican mayor, they’re going to have so many good things and so many changes that I’m going to bring to this city,” Mateo said in the interview with Max.

Curtis Sliwa’s political platform mirrors Mateo’s in the general sense of wanting to support local New York City businesses but also has much more of a focus on property tax reform. In what he calls the “Right to Business Plan,” Sliwa plans on removing all the obstacles and hurdles that New Yorkers might face when they try to start local businesses.

This plan includes making it easier and quicker for entrepreneurs to be granted business permits and licenses, creating new business loans that entrepreneurs can take advantage of, expand the NYC Business Express initiative and create an Entrepreneurs and Small Business Council consisting of industry leaders.

Sliwa’s other plan titled the “Property Tax Reform Plan” lays out the groundwork for exactly what its namesake suggests. Sliwa promises he will “deliver much-needed property tax reform, which will provide economic relief to millions of low- and middle-income residents,” according to his website.

The plan reveals a set of reforms that will place a 2% property tax cap on NYC’s annual tax levy, an exemption from the tax for senior citizens with a sub-$75,000 income and a reassessment of residential homes that are based around current market value.

Additionally, Sliwa plans on placing property taxes on the richest landlords in New York City, which will target Columbia University, New York University and Madison Square Garden. Currently, these organizations are exempt from property taxes. Madison Square Garden is exempt under Article 4, Section 429 of New York Real Property tax law, while universities are granted tax exemptions under Section 420-A of the same article.

The extent of Sliwa’s political experience goes to his founding of the Guardian Angels program in the late 1970s. The program brought together volunteer NYC residents to help protect the everyday subway rider from the rising crime rates found in the city’s metro system.

Sliwa is endorsed from both the Brooklyn Republican Party and the Staten Island GOP. Mateo, on the other hand, has been endorsed by the Republican Parties of the remaining three boroughs: the Bronx, Queens and Manhattan.