Aug. 2, 2021 By Christian Murray
Curtis Sliwa, a longtime radio host and founder of the Guardian Angels, is the Republican candidate for Mayor running against Eric Adams, the strongly favored Democrat.
We talk to Sliwa in our latest podcast about his Brooklyn upbringing and how he formed the Guardian Angels, a volunteer crime fighting group, in the 1970s.
The conversation is focused heavily on Queens, a borough that he knows well having lived in Forest Hills for several years while in a relationship with Melinda Katz, the Queens District Attorney. The pair, who separated in 2014, have two sons together.
Sliwa, who sports a red Guardian Angels beret, discussed several issues during the podcast pertaining to Queens, such as the city’s plan to close the Rikers Island prison complex, the LaGuardia AirTrain project, the scuttled Amazon deal in Long Island City, congestion pricing, to bicycle lanes on Queens Boulevard.
In the podcast he also discusses his views on crime, gifted & talented programs at public schools, to critical race theory. The interview took place late last month.
Sliwa notes that if the city doesn’t move in a different direction New Yorkers will leave. “People are up at night on their computers,” he said, currently looking for other places to live.
Sliwa said the city can’t afford to build borough-based jails such as what’s proposed for Kew Gardens and three other locations across the city. “Rikers can be rehabbed,” he said. He said that if he were to become mayor, he would immediately scrap the borough-based jails plan.
He said that he is opposed to the AirTrain LGA, arguing that the route makes no sense. He said most global cities have a direct link between their respective airport and commercial district. He said that requiring travelers to go to Willets Point in order to catch the AirTrain was not logical.
Sliwa said he opposed the failed Amazon deal, arguing that it lacked transparency.
“I didn’t like that it was two people in a room– plus Bezos,” Sliwa said, referring to Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo who stitched the controversial deal together. He said the community should have been brought in early to weigh in on it.
Sliwa said he is opposed to congestion pricing, arguing that many people cannot afford the cost of the tolls. He said the policy aims to push more people to use the subway system—a system many residents are reluctant to use out of concern for their own safety.
Sliwa, who often visits Forest Hills to see his sons, said that the Queens Boulevard protected bicycle lanes are not being utilized. He said that protected bicycle lanes have been forced upon residents of the outer boroughs.
He said that if he were to become mayor, he would adopt a “use it or lose it” approach to protected bicycle lanes.
Sliwa, whose citywide platform is based on law and order, gained a reputation for trying to combat crime after forming the Guardian Angels in the 1970s. He has earned the praise of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has endorsed him.
He said that Adams, a former officer with the NYPD, is a “flip flopper” who only began focusing on crime when he sensed that Democratic voters were calling for public safety.
He also argues that Adams was silent when the protests against the NYPD took place last year and there was “shooting and looting.”
Sliwa said that he is opposed to critical race theory, arguing that it doesn’t belong in public schools. “It creates division among students…I would not want that.”
Critical race theory has proven to be controversial across the U.S., with its critics saying it divides students into “oppressed” and “oppressor” groups based on race. Advocates argue that it provides students with an understanding of how racism has shaped American public policy.
Sliwa also talks about his love of animals during the podcast and his vow to end animal kill shelters.
The Brooklyn native is viewed by political pundits as being a long shot in the race, with the number of registered Democrats in New York City outnumbering Republicans by 7 to 1.