Mayoral Candidate: Kathryn Garcia

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Henry Owens, Features Editor

I come from a family of New Yorkers. I don’t just mean that my family was born here — they are always tuned in to New York City politics, they advocate for local causes, and several even work for the city. So six months ago, when my cousin, who happens to be Deputy Director of Water Quality for NYC, emailed our whole family with a glowing endorsement of Kathryn Garcia, I started paying attention to her. 

Garcia has experience. In my opinion, having worked for a city government should be the bare minimum for running to be in charge of that city’s government. However, in a field of candidates that includes a Wall Street executive, Ray McGuire, who thinks a Brooklyn home costs $100,000 (one-ninth the real price) and an entrepreneur, Andrew Yang, sailing on the name recognition of his failed presidential campaign, it’s necessary to highlight the significance of Garcia’s real, practical experience in New York City government. 

I said that experience is the bare minimum, but Garcia surpasses that threshold by miles with her outstanding career in public service. She served six years as the Commissioner of the Department of Sanitation, managing thousands of workers, introducing new initiatives to make our city’s trash system more sustainable, and keeping our city streets clear during snowstorms. In addition to sanitation, she has frequently been assigned to other departments and been asked to lead task forces, so she is well versed in many areas of city government. Because of her impressive ability to step in anywhere and help struggling city agencies, some in the media have colloquially dubbed her as “the city’s go-to fixer.”

As an example of her being a “fixer,” she was named an Incident Commander following Hurricane Sandy, effectively helping the city through the crisis. At this point in time, we certainly need a mayor accustomed to dealing with crises. In 2019, she was selected by DeBlasio to lead the city’s effort to address the widespread use of lead pipes, and the protocols she implemented led to a 21% decrease in childhood lead poisoning in just a year. Most recently, during the COVID-19 pandemic, she was once again called on to aid in a crisis, and she took charge of the city’s emergency food program, delivering over 200 million meals to food insecure and sick New Yorkers. We all know our city is in a crisis — some pessimists even proclaim that NYC is dead and will never come back. We need someone as a mayor who has a proven track record and knows how to deal with catastrophe. Garcia’s impressive resumé in city government fills me with hope that she is the candidate capable of bringing us back.

With the minimal attention, Garcia received for the first month of her campaign, I admit to being skeptical about her viability as a candidate. In a traditional election, I would never have written down the name of a candidate polling at 5%, believing my votes would go to waste on someone who cannot win. I have been thrilled to see that more people are talking about her — she deserves all the good press she’s been having and more — but even if she weren’t a front runner, I still would have put her first. That’s the beauty of the new ranked-choice voting system: no fear about your vote not mattering, no worries about a minority win. 

Perhaps I haven’t persuaded you that Garcia is the absolute best in the race. She certainly isn’t the most exciting — a long-term city employee won’t exactly be revolutionary, and her background is quite literally garbage. But you cannot deny that she will get the job done. She isn’t a risk, unlike candidates with unproven political records like McGuire and Yang, or politicians with more controversial track records like Maya Wiley or Eric Adams. If you want someone as our mayor who is smart and incredibly capable, then you should mark Kathryn Garcia near the top of your ranked-choice ballot.