The Bloomberg administration is now in its final two months, and regardless of what happens in the election tomorrow, the work continues for Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway, largely unknown by most New Yorkers and yet extremely influential in city government. NY1's Budd Mishkin filed the following One on 1 profile.
Some people enter into public service to change the world. Not Cas Holloway.
"I was like, 'Let's try to bring my favorite band to a park,'" he says.
So in 1996, he applied for a job with the Parks Department.
"One of the things growing up, my father is a big Simon and Garfunkel fan. We listened a lot to the live Simon and Garfunkel in Central Park," he says. "So I thought, 'It would be really cool to bring U2 to Central Park.'"
That never happened, but the idea started Holloway's journey through New York City government, serving in a variety of influential roles in the Parks Department, the Department of Environmental Protection and, since 2011, as deputy mayor for operations.
"A lot of people, once they find out what my job is, they're like, first like, 'Well, what actually do you do?'" he says.
Holloway oversees 11 different city agencies and offices. He's one of New York's most powerful public officials, but he can still come across as an average citizen, largely unknown to the public.
"I remember calling 311 for a sinkhole. My wife and I were down in Brooklyn Bridge Park. We'll go and do what we're doing, and then four hours later, we'll be like, 'Let's go back the way we came so I can see whether or not these guys showed up,'" he says. "I like that, having that level of anonymity that you can still really very much be a citizen like everybody else and experience the city."
Holloway also oversees some of New York's biggest departments, some with billion-dollar operating budgets: the police department, the fire department, sanitation.
"These are huge organizations that are in any other place, would be the main employer," he says. "I don't manage those agencies. I don't tell John Doherty how to pick up the trash or ploy the snow."
Holloway is intimately involved with big picture projects, such as Hurricane Sandy recovery and a new water treatment plant.
"I have a passion for tackling that stuff. In a way, the more complicated, the better, the more unpleasant, the better," he says. "It's going to be hard not to do that. I will miss that."
Holloway leaves office with the Bloomberg administration at the end of the year. He has no illusions about what he's leaving behind.
"This could very easily be the best job I ever have," he says. "I say that. I think about that. I'll try to make sure that that's not the case. And I do think that whatever comes next, it can't possibly, it won't be as absorbing."
Favorite initiatives, like co-generation, allowing buildings to produce their own energy, will no longer be his.
"Setting the policies to make that happen, that's going to be fun. It's going to be difficult because there are so many players, but it's going to be a lot of fun, and that's going to be somebody else's fun."
Cas Holloway grew up in suburban Philadelphia. He was president of his grade school class. By the time he attended Episcopal Academy for high school, Holloway was on his way.
"There's a position there called senior warden of the vestry, which basically is responsible for kind of setting the theme for the year," And I had that position because I was always seeking out positions to try to have an influence on the organization," he says. "And try to make it better, whatever better means in context. It could mean hot cookies in the morning. It could mean, 'Let's get response times down for emergency responses.'"
After graduating from Harvard, Holloway went to work at the Parks Department for influential commissioner Henry Stern. For decades before Stern, one of the most powerful men in New York, Robert Moses, used the department to shape New York's landscape.
When Holloway started at the department, he knew little of its significance to New York.
"I stumbled into this place that happens to be not only really important to New Yorkers, but that also has this history to it that I somehow have become a part of," he says. "That probably was as formative as anything in terms of thinking, 'Well, public service is definitely something I want to be part of my career.'"
After rising to the department's chief of staff, Holloway decided to go to law school, citing the number of lawyers involved in city government. When he got the call to return to city government in 2006, he took it, first serving as chief of staff for former deputy mayor Ed Skyler, then commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection, and finally, deputy mayor.
Holloway was prominent during New York's response to Hurricane Sandy. He says that he's comfortable with what he calls "the unpredictability of events."
"I had a law school professor that said something that I really remembered. It was in a different context. He was talking about reading opinions and, you know, the interpretation of them, but he said, 'Feast on the uncertainty,'," Holloway says. "And I try to do that."
On the advice of a former deputy mayor, Holloway says he's trying to spend 2 percent of his time focusing on his post-City Hall future.
"Between 10 and 11 at night," he says. "Sometimes I'll get up at six or seven in the morning, and you think a little bit about, 'OK, what am I going to do next?' But we're very busy."
Mishkin: I am not going to ask you if you are going to run for political office down the road, but will you be able to rest easy until you bring U2 in concert to Central Park?
Holloway: (Laughs) I still think about it. So if the opportunity comes to try to make that happen, I'll probably drop whatever I'm doing, whatever I'm doing to help (laughs)."