NEW YORK — In a city where where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a figure of around 7 to 1, New Yorkers heading to the polls to vote in the Republican primary in June have fewer choices of who to get behind.
Among Democrats, there's a field of eight major candidates to sort through.
- Republican mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa calls for a boost to police funding
- Republican candidate Fernando Mateo says another Democratic mayor will ‘sink our city’
Neither is what one would consider to be a typical GOP candidate.
Sliwa, still rarely seen without his red beret, is most famous for founding the Guardian Angels in the 1970s, a group that patrolled the streets and the subway system, looking to prevent crime.
His flamboyant image led him to become a media personality on WABC Radio and formerly on NY1.
Sliwa says his experience with the Guardian Angels makes him uniquely equipped to tackle public safety challenges in the city, which he says is his number one issue.
"That's exactly what I know all about: how to get back to being safe and secure again so that as the city begins to open up — which it must if we are to resurrect ourselves — we’re going to have safe streets, safe parks, and safe subways especially,” Sliwa said on “Mornings On 1” in a May 12 interview. “The way you do that is by refunding the police, hiring more police. And, again, allowing the police to be proactive, not reactive."
Crime and public safety is a key issue for Mateo as well. He also advocates for the hiring of more police officers — 20,000 new officers, to be precise, on top of the 35,000 already on duty with the NYPD.
Born in the Dominican Republic, Mateo has made a name for himself in New York City politics as a voice for business. He's a spokesperson for the United Bodegas of America, and the president of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers.
Mateo says his business experience makes him qualified to turn the city economy around.
"I know how to bring back small businesses, because I've been a small businessman since I was 17 years old. I know how to create jobs, I know how to bring businesses back,” Mateo said on “Mornings On 1” during a May 11 interview. “Those tax incentives that we were giving Amazon, 30 years of payroll tax relief, I would give that instead of to one company, to 50,000 small businesses. That can create not 25,000 jobs, but half a million jobs for New Yorkers."
With the Republican primary now a head-to-head competition, the candidates aren't shy about taking swipes at one another.
Mateo called Sliwa "not a serious candidate" during his interview with “Mornings On 1.”
"I've known him for a long time and he's a shock jock. He's the kind of guy that's — he's a pretender, an actor, a performer,” Mateo said. “He's not a doer, he's not someone that has the experience to get things done."
When Sliwa heard that, he fired back with a statement saying in part, "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."
What else sets them apart?
Sliwa only became a registered Republican in Feb. 2020. Before that, he had long been an independent, and critical of Donald Trump.
Mateo has been with the GOP most of his life, and voted for Trump twice, but says he no longer supports the former president after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Also if you're an animal lover, Curtis has promised to make animal welfare a priority — he's got 15 rescue cats in his apartment.
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