IndyKid reporter Hudson questions Kathryn Garcia about her stance on defunding the police.

Hudson Mu, age 14

In 2021, New York City will elect a new comptroller, at least four new borough presidents, and because of term limits, there will be an almost entirely new City Council. But the most competitive, expensive and crowded race will surely be for mayor. Currently, there are eight or so front-runners, including former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, city Comptroller Scott Stringer and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

Candidate Maya Wiley, a former MSNBC correspondent, has designed a plan called “New Deal New York,” which promises to create 100,000 new jobs and devote $3 billion to making New York a renewable energy powerhouse. 

In an interview with IndyKids, mayoral candidate Kathryn Garcia said, “When you talk about the New Deal of other folks, they’re actually very big statements without a lot of detail in them.” Garcia, who was the city’s former sanitation commissioner, said, “I look at all of my policies through the lens of climate change, whether or not it’s my transportation policy or my housing policy. The role of climate is embedded in all of those.” 

When Eric Garner was killed by a police officer in Staten Island in 2014, there were protests across the country, and in response to this, some cities adopted various police reforms. One of those cities was Minneapolis, the same city where George Floyd, another unarmed Black man, was killed brutally by officers who had gone through implicit bias training and de-escalation training. Garcia says those reforms need to be taken further, and accountability needs to be more robust. “You get what you measure. If you are measuring community engagement and community trust building, and then you promote people who are doing that, there is change. If you just put people through a training session [for a couple of hours], you’re not going to get real change. You have to incorporate it into every level of the organization.” 

Candidate Dianne Morales, a nonprofit executive, has a plan to “Defund the Police; Fund the People,” which proposes downsizing the NYPD’s budget by 50%—$3 billionand use the money to fund public safety programs separate from the NYPD. “Dianne and I have respect for each other but very different political points of view and solutions for what we think the city needs,” said Garcia, who distances herself from the “defund the police” slogan. “I believe that we can have a police force that are guardians of communities and not enforcers against communities.” But the argument coming from Morales and the defund-the-police movement is that the police don’t actually keep the city safe, at least not for people of color. 

The New York City mayoral primaries will take place on June 22, followed by a general election on November 2. Until then, it’s anyone’s race.