Republican nominee for mayor Curtis Sliwa shares a tiny Upper West Side studio with his wife, Nancy, and 16 rescue cats.

He's hoping to move on up to Gracie Mansion.

“Well, not only would I take the 16 cats, but I’ve been in Gracie Mansion before, and there’s a lot of space in Gracie Mansion and a lot of space in the yard,” Sliwa said. 

What You Need To Know

  • Sliwa won the Republican Primary for mayor last month against businessman and activist Fernando Mateo

  • Public safety, homeless outreach and animal rights are the pillars of his candidacy

  • He lives in a studio apartment with his wife and 16 rescue cats

  • A radio shock jock and founder of the Guardian Angels, Sliwa was once a NY1 political commentator

After public safety, animal rights and no-kill shelters are at the core of his campaign for mayor.  

Sliwa won the Republican nomination for mayor last month after beating businessman activist Fernando Mateo in a primary that often turned into a circus. 

“They may not take me seriously, but I’m a Republican, and also I’m running on the Independent Party line,” Sliwa said.

He’s raised few campaign contributions and has not qualified for public matching funds yet; but Sliwa has the benefit of strong name recognition. 

“They don’t see me in a political prism. They see me more as a populist," Sliwa said, while greeting passers-by. 

He’s worked for decades as a radio shock jock and was once a NY1 political commentator. 

He’s best known as the founder of the Guardian Angels in the late 1970s, a volunteer vigilante squad focused on making the New York City subway safer and helping the homeless and those with mental issues. It's work Sliwa still does to this day.

“Let’s face it, campaigns at times, they don’t even see them. I take the time to stop, talk to them, because they are important to me as any voter. I know they are not going to vote,” Sliwa said. 

At a time when New Yorkers worry about safety in the subway system, Sliwa feels he’s better equipped to deal with this issue than rival Democrat Eric Adams, a former NYPD captain and transit police officer, even though he acknowledges having embellished his safety record in the past.

Can New Yorkers trust him?

“Oh yeah, first of all, that was 40 years ago, that’s like a lifetime, and there’s been nothing in between, and I apologized for that,” Sliwa said.

The exterior of Curtis Sliwa's Manhattan apartment building

Were Sliwa to win the November general election, he would have to work with a governor he’s often parodied and called King Cuomo. 

“If he remains governor, I’d have to deal with him, but I’ll tell you this much: He won’t bully me. Nobody bullies me. He bullied de Blasio,” he said.

It will be an uphill battle for Sliwa this year, given many Republicans switched party registration to participate in the Democratic primary. Sliwa has the support of former mayor Rudy Giuliani. But is a Republican nominee for mayor viable at all right now in New York City?

“Of course it’s viable. I mean, I remember being involved with the George Pataki campaign when no one even knew who George Pataki was,” Sliwa said.

He is also hoping to attract young voters.

“I’m a devotee of electronic dance music. So a lot of the younger hipsters and millennials know that,” he said.

His campaign videos on the social media platform TikTok have received tens of thousands of views.