Democrats have long had a massive edge in citywide elections, but that’s not stopping Fernando Mateo from making a run for mayor as a Republican.
Mateo said he had been waiting to endorse a Republican candidate, but when no one he could support jumped in, he decided to run himself.
Mateo said Democrats have a lot to say and a lot of vision, but fail to execute on their plans. He said another eight years of Democratic rule would “sink our city.”
“Anyone who wins the primary will be a continuation of seven-and-a-half years of de Blasio, Mateo told NY1.
“We lost the glory days, the 20 years of Republican governance,” he said, referring to the administrations of Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg.
Mateo’s best known as the president of the State Federation of Taxi Drivers, which expanded its role to speak out for rideshare drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft. He formed the organization back in 1999.
He also developed a program at Rikers that for the past 30 years has taught, trained and employed first-time violent offenders.
In 1993, Mateo formed “Toys for Guns."
Mateo said his top priority as mayor would be public safety reform. He opposes the defund the police movement.
Mateo said he would increase NYPD funding and deploy more officers to city streets and subway stations.
Mateo said he’d like to see officers nurture community relations with local businesses and students in their respective beats.
Also on his priority list is stimulating the economy and supporting small businesses. Mateo wants to expand payroll tax relief to 50,000 businesses, which can help create half a million jobs in the city, he said.
He’d also like to support the youth, ages 14 to 18, with after school jobs year-round in city agencies and small businesses.
Mateo is one of two main Republican candidates running for mayor, but he called his competitor, Curtis Sliwa, “a joke.”
“He is a pretender, an actor, a performer. He’s not a doer. He’s not someone who has the experience to get things done,” Mateo said.
“He’s a pebble in my shoe — I need to just take my shoe off, drop the pebble and go on to the general election, because to be quite honest with you, he’s not a serious candidate, he’s a joke,” said Mateo.
Sliwa, the founder of the Guardian Angels, fired back.
"In the last 2 weeks I and the Guardian Angels have patrolled Riverdale in the Bronx to prevent continued anti-semitic attacks against the synagogues," Sliwa said in a statement. "I and the Guardian Angels having been patrolling Times Square since the shootings. Fernando Mateo had no problem asking me to help bodegas and livery cab drivers under attack. Which we did. A lot of people in this city reach out to me and the Guardian Angels when they have crime problems. Including Fernando Mateo. I am no joke."
Mateo joined “Mornings On 1” Tuesday as part of a series of interviews with the candidates looking to replace Bill de Blasio.