election 2021

Here’s Everyone Running for New York City Mayor (So Far)

Thirty-four and counting.

Photo: Getty Images, Shutterstock
Photo: Getty Images, Shutterstock
Photo: Getty Images, Shutterstock

Are you running for mayor? No? You may be unique: More than six months before the primaries in June, the race is already brimming with candidates. Some 30 New Yorkers have filed campaign paperwork — ranging from career politicians to total newcomers — and several more are exploring bids for City Hall. Over the coming months, prepare yourself for a barrage of campaign speeches, debates, mailers, and ads from most, if not all, of these aspirants.

The Contenders

Scott Stringer

Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

Age: 60
Current job: City comptroller
Résumé high points: He represented the Upper West Side in the State Assembly, then served as Manhattan borough president before he was elected as the city’s fiscal watchdog in 2013.
Pet issues: More than pushing for one big idea, Stringer has advocated for an array of causes like affordable housing, gun control, women’s reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, and campaign-finance reform. Lately it’s felt like his chief purpose in life is to dunk on de Blasio, calling out the mayor with lawsuits, reports, and press releases for botched programs and initiatives.
Positioning: Steady moderate progressivism. He’s attempting to appeal to Democrats seeking an experienced politician while also looking for votes from the party’s progressive wing.
Controversies: Stringer has taken some heat for his record of approving large real-estate projects like Hudson Yards and the expansion of NYU’s campus.

Eric Adams

Photo: Mark Lennihan/AP/Shutterstock

Age: 60
Current job: Brooklyn borough president
Résumé high points: Adams, who entered politics after a 22-year career with the NYPD, co-founded 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care — a group that spoke out against police brutality from inside the force — while he was an officer. (He himself was beaten by cops as a teenager.) In 2006, he was elected to the State Senate, repping neighborhoods such as Crown Heights, Brownsville, and Park Slope for four terms before becoming borough president in 2013.
Pet issues: While serving as the cheerleader-in-chief for Brooklyn, he has cultivated a reputation as a champion for immigrant communities and the needs of small businesses and has been unabashedly pro-development — adapting former Alaska governor Sarah Palin’s “Drill, baby, drill” line into his “Build, baby, build” mantra.
Positioning: As a former cop, he has nuanced views on police reform and can perhaps build a coalition of Black New Yorkers and more conservative white voters. His platform so far has zeroed in on public safety and revitalizing the economy.
What work-life balance? He literally lives at the office. During the early days of the pandemic, Adams set up a makeshift crash pad at Brooklyn Borough Hall, sleeping on a mattress in front of his desk and schlepping in some fitness gear and his NutriBullet blender to make his much discussed morning smoothie.

Maya Wiley

Photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for The New York Women’s Foundation

Age: 56
Latest job: Senior vice-president of social justice and professor of urban policy at the New School
Résumé high points: She’s a former top counsel for Mayor Bill de Blasio and is a onetime civil-rights attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. She’s also the former chair of the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the body that weighs claims of misconduct against NYPD officers. She gained a national reputation as a political and legal analyst for MSNBC.
Pet issues: Combating systemic racism and police brutality are her bread and butter.
Positioning: Wiley announced her exploration of a bid for mayor three months after the killing of George Floyd in May and has positioned herself, a Black woman, as an avatar for addressing the city’s racial and economic inequities.
Allies: Wiley has received what is probably the only coveted Trump bump in the mayoral race: Mary Trump, who wrote a tell-all about her uncle, hosted an online fundraiser for Wiley earlier this month.

Shaun Donovan

Photo: Bebeto Matthews/AP/Shutterstock

Age: 54
Latest job: Senior strategist to the president of Harvard University
Résumé high points: Donovan was secretary of Housing and Urban Development and director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Obama and was the administration’s point man for Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts. In New York, he was commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development under Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration.
Pet issues: Donovan has already put climate change at the core of his bid for mayor, issuing a lengthy policy plan that seeks to double down on the city’s environmental policies. As the city’s biggest contributors of greenhouse-gas emissions, new construction and how buildings are operated would see a spate of environmentally friendly changes under that plan.
Design cred: He did a stint as an architect in Italy and has an M.A. in architecture from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard.

Kathryn Garcia

Photo: Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Age: 50
Latest job: New York City Sanitation commissioner under Mayor de Blasio
Résumé high points: Garcia has worn many hats in the de Blasio administration aside from her day job of overseeing trash and snow clearing: She was tasked with leading the city’s efforts to abate lead-paint exposure in children, named the interim chair and CEO of the New York City Housing Authority for part of 2019, and also served as the city’s emergency “food czar” this year to combat food insecurity for New Yorkers during the pandemic.
Pet issues: She is credited with big reforms to the city’s sanitation system, such as overseeing an overhaul to the chaotic private-carting industry (though the rollout of that new system has been delayed by COVID-19) as well as the creation of a curbside electronics-waste-disposal program and an expansion of composting.
Positioning: She’s casting herself as the “crisis manager” that New York City needs during its pandemic recovery.
A unique family: Garcia is adopted and comes from a diverse family; her parents also adopted her brother and another daughter, who are both Black, in addition to having a biological daughter.

Ray McGuire

Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for The Jackie Robinson Foundation

Age: 63
Latest job: Vice-chair of Citigroup
Résumé high points: McGuire is a total newcomer to city politics. In order to run, he’s leaving his position as one of the highest-ranking and longest-serving Black executives on Wall Street.
Pet issues: He has used his position to advocate on racial-justice issues within the corporate world and has called on executives to do more in combating systemic racism.
Positioning: He’s counting on being seen as a financial expert who can steer the city out of a fiscal crisis and not as a player in a banking system that has heightened economic inequality.
Where he spends his money: McGuire is a major collector of work by Black artists. He and his wife, Crystal McCrary, are among the top 200 art collectors in the world ranked by ARTnews.

Loree Sutton

Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for David Lynch Foundation

Age: 61
Latest job: New York City Veterans’ Services commissioner under de Blasio
Résumé high points: The retired brigadier general served as the Army’s highest-ranking psychiatrist. She did a tour in Egypt and also served in Iraq during the first Gulf War. Back in New York, Sutton played a key role in growing the Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs into a full-blown city department under de Blasio.
Pet issues: She is an advocate for military veterans, with a particular focus on homelessness and boosting mental-health services.
Positioning: Sutton, who opposes defunding the police, is banking on attracting moderate Democrats and seeks to embrace business interests that have felt ignored as de Blasio has focused on underserved communities.
The proposal: Sutton proposed to her now-wife, Laurie Leitch, at the Pride Parade in 2015.

Zach Iscol

Photo: Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images for The Headstrong

Age: 42
Latest job: Founder and CEO of digital-media company Grid North Group
Résumé high points: Iscol is a Marine Corps veteran turned entrepreneur. He co-founded and served as the former chairman of the Headstrong Project, a nonprofit providing mental-health services for veterans, and also started Task & Purpose, a military-focused digital-media company. He was also deputy director of the temporary hospital at the Javits Center last spring.
Pet issues: Supporting military veterans is his chief cause.
Positioning: He’s probably the most moderate of the candidates and, like Sutton, also seeks to attract middle-of-the road Democrats.
Associated glamour: He’s married to Meredith Melling, a former editor at Vogue who’s considered one of the most influential women in the fashion industry.

Carlos Menchaca

Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

Age: 40
Current job: City Council member for Brooklyn’s 38th District, which includes Sunset Park, Red Hook, and Windsor Terrace
Résumé high points: He was the LGBTQ and HIV community liaison to former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and was budget coordinator to former Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz.
Pet issues: Menchaca is known for his focus on immigrant communities. A chair of the council’s Committee on Immigration, he helped pass the city’s IDNYC program — which made an identification card available to city residents regardless of immigration status — and secured funding for legal representation for immigrants facing deportation and has worked to limit city cooperation with federal immigration-enforcement officials. He’s also known as a transit advocate and has been particularly vocal on improving the city’s bike infrastructure.
Positioning: He is a staunch progressive who would be the city’s first Latino and openly gay mayor.
Development feud: Menchaca recently drew citywide attention for opposing a proposed rezoning for Industry City that the developers ultimately scrapped. The yearslong saga over the redevelopment of the Sunset Park complex may have scored him some points with progressive activists but likely made him enemies among the city’s development and business interests.
Side gig: Menchaca has reportedly done a bit of modeling.

Dianne Morales

Photo: Courtesy of @Dianne4NYC/YouTube

Age: 52
Latest job: Executive director and CEO of social-services nonprofit Phipps Neighborhoods
Résumé high points: She was a founding board member of Jumpstart, a 25-year-old national nonprofit that prepares preschoolers for kindergarten.
Pet issues: Morales’s platform is ardently progressive, with ideals like “community control” of the New York City Housing Authority, defunding the NYPD, and enacting a guaranteed minimum income for all city residents.
Positioning: She seeks to become the city’s first Afro-Latina mayor and has cast herself as the community-centric candidate whose advocacy in social justice will elevate the voices of the city’s marginalized.
Bed-Stuy Strong: Morales continues to live in Bedford-Stuyvesant, where she was born and raised, and has been working with the local mutual-aid network during the pandemic.

Curtis Sliwa

Photo: Jared Siskin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Image

Age: 66
Current job: Self-appointed crime fighter (a.k.a. founder and CEO of the Guardian Angels) and radio-talk-show host
Résumé high points: The Canarsie native founded his watchdog group in 1979, enlisting unarmed volunteers to patrol the streets and subways wearing their signature red jackets and berets.
Pet issues: It’s all about being tough on crime and getting attention for it.
Positioning: Sliwa has cast himself as the law-and-order candidate, with plans to reinvigorate the NYPD.
Close call: He survived being shot at point-blank range in the back of a taxi — an attack thought to be the work of Gambino-crime-family scion John Gotti.

Andrew Yang

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Age: 45
Current job: Entrepreneur; former presidential candidate in the 2020 Democratic primary
Résumé high points: He’s got name recognition — see #YangGang — and fundraising potential that could easily put him in the top tier of candidates, even though he’s never run for city office. He performed well in a recent poll, receiving 20 percent of support as the top choice among 1,000 Democratic likely primary voters (despite the fact that he hadn’t yet filed his paperwork to run).
Pet issue: Universal basic income. Yang advocated for giving every American $1,000 per month — what he named the “freedom dividend” — when he ran for president.
Positioning: He told the Daily News his New Year’s resolution was to “help New York City get back on its feet” (and to cut down on late-night snacks).
Yes, he’s local: Yang was born in Schenectady, went to law school at Columbia, and lives in Hell’s Kitchen.

Maybe Running

Christine Quinn

Former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is reportedly weighing another bid. Now CEO of the homeless-services group Women in Need, she had been a front-runner in the 2013 Democratic primary but was hampered in part by her ties to Mayor Bloomberg and the overturning of term limits. After fading in the final stretch, she came in third. Her recent work in homeless services amid the city’s ballooning population of unhoused New Yorkers — especially now that the city is teetering on the edge of an eviction crisis — could offer renewed relevance.

John Catsimatidis

The billionaire supermarket magnate who previously ran in the 2013 mayoral primary and lost the Republican nomination to Joe Lhota is said to be mulling another run. Catsimatidis, who spent $11 million on his failed mayoral bid, claims he’d go big with an eye-popping $100 million in campaign spending if he does throw his hat into the mayoral ring. His radio show and Instagram-famous Republican-operative daughter won’t hurt, either.

The Dropouts

Max Rose

Rose, a blunt-talking Democrat who is relatively conservative for New York City, filed paperwork to run for mayor in December but bowed out of the crowded field on January 3. In a statement, Rose did not spell out exactly why he’s calling it quits — he recently lost his South Brooklyn and Staten Island congressional seat to Republican Nicole Malliotakis — but called on the city’s next mayor to “build a social contract that leaves no one behind.”

Corey Johnson

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson was the first to declare a bid for mayor, and is a presumed front-runner, but withdrew from the race in September. At the time, Johnson said he had been suffering from depression since May and decided “that this is not the right path for me.” If Johnson had continued his campaign, he would have faced criticism over the passage of the city budget in June, which failed to satisfy both left-leaning Democrats who want hefty cuts to the NYPD and pro-police moderates who believe it will lead to increased crime.

Rubén Díaz Jr.

Bronx borough president Rubén Díaz Jr., a career politician who was first elected to office when he was 22, was once seen as a strong contender to become the city’s first Latino mayor. But last January, the 46-year-old told the New York Times that he decided not to run and that he doesn’t plan on seeking any public office once his term as borough president ends in 2021. Instead, he said he aims to spend more time with his family.

The Also-Runnings*

Isaac Wright

The lawyer is the inspiration for the ABC series For Life, based on his wrongful conviction on drug charges in 1991 and his quest to clear his name.

Paperboy Prince

The nonbinary Brooklyn rapper — and former congressional candidate — Paperboy Prince has officially filed paperwork with the city’s Campaign Finance Board. Their official announcement will come in the form of a “Paperboy for Mayor” album with policy-driven raps, like their recent song about canceling rent.

Quanda Francis

Francis, who has a background in accounting, is a Brooklyn native who grew up in public housing and currently lives in Brooklyn Heights.

Art Chang

The child of Korean immigrants, he describes himself as a “reform activist” and “technology innovator.”

Stephen Bishop Seely

Few biographical details are offered on his campaign website, which is oddly blurred for someone who says they seek to create an “inclusive and unifying vision” for the city.

Edward Cullen

No relation to the fictional character of Twilight fame. He’s going by Eddie Cullen, probably exactly for that reason.

Cleopatra Fitzgerald

A Republican and lifelong Manhattanite who refers to herself as “Madam Fitzgerald” on her campaign website.

Aaron Foldenauer

Foldenauer is a lawyer who describes himself as passionate about providing free legal services to the underserved and building a more sustainable city.

Garry Guerrier

The Brooklyn native joined the FDNY as a paramedic in 2007 before launching a career as a nurse.

Abbey Laurel-Smith

A self-described “radical Republican” who previously ran for mayor as an independent and a Working Families Party mayoral candidate in 2013 and in 2017.

William Pepitone

Pepitone is a born and raised Brooklyn Republican who is retired from the NYPD with a 30-year career in law enforcement.

Joycelyn Taylor

Taylor grew up in the Louis H. Pink Houses in East New York; her father was an MTA bus driver, and her mother was a homemaker.

Ahsan Syed

Syed boasts that he is the first Muslim candidate for mayor.

Other little-known candidates who are running for mayor who have released very little information about themselves include Julia Qing Reaves, Max Kaplan, Kevin Coenen Jr., Michael DeName, Thomas Downs, Vitaly Filipchenko, and Christopher Krietchman.

*All of these candidates have filed paperwork with the city’s Campaign Finance Board, and several have launched campaign websites.

Here’s Everyone Running for New York City Mayor (So Far)