Nicole Malliotakis Gives Glimpse of Republican Future Post-Trump
It’s a pity more voters aren’t paying attention to next Tuesday’s mayoral election. At Wednesday’s second, and final, debate between Mayor de Blasio and Republican challenger Nicole Malliotakis (plus “Dump the Mayor” party candidate Bo Dietl), Malliotakis showed how to rebuild the Republican Party post-Trump, and she’s giving the mayor some credible competition on policy missteps.
Halloween’s terror attack dominated the first third of the debate. Malliotakis was polite but firm in holding de Blasio accountable for the mistakes that could have prevented, or lessened, the attack.
Debate moderator Maurice DuBois asked why the mayor hadn’t protected pedestrians and bicyclists with physical barriers to keep malicious drivers away from high-profile spaces. This isn’t hindsight: a truck attack by an Islamist terrorist along the Nice waterfront in France last year was virtually identical to what happened along the Hudson River. Similar attacks have taken place in Stockholm, London and Jerusalem.
Plus, three previous deaths over a decade on the Hudson path at the hands of wayward drivers should have long ago spurred the city into action.
The mayor’s response? To hide behind the police department he once maligned. Crash-barrier locations “are determined by the NYPD,” he said.
The city has deployed more such barriers since an earlier May attack in Times Square — but a mayor who pays attention would have spurred the police and transportation departments to do more.
As the Hudson attack proved, terrorists can take advantage of Gotham’s chaotic streetscape. But de Blasio still insists the solution to crisis-level traffic is . . . a millionaire’s tax, to give the city’s money to the unaccountable MTA.
Malliotakis is far more realistic: she’s willing to look at congestion pricing for all drivers, including suburban commuters, as Gov. Cuomo said he’ll propose next year.
Malliotakis isn’t averse, though, to taxing the rich. She noted that the mayor, a multimillionaire homeowner and six-figure earner, benefits from a local property-tax system that forces middle-class homeowners to subsidize owners of higher-value properties. Over four years, the mayor has maintained the status quo — to protect millionaire asset owners like himself.
The mayor also hid behind the police on another issue where he’s weak: public-school perils. Malliotakis noted that teachers at the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife in The Bronx sounded warnings about the school’s climate before 15-year-old Matthew McCree was killed in September by a fellow student. She said a metal detector should’ve been in place.
“The NYPD controls school safety,” de Blasio said — passing the buck. “Under your direction,” she coolly answered.
Malliotakis hit the mayor well on several other critical issues, from street homelessness to pay-to-play corruption.
She did get tripped up, making an honest mistake in saying felony sex crimes are up, when she seems to have meant misdemeanors. But she set an important example for Republicans going forward in her consistently measured and respectful tone.
Dietl plays a helpful role here, in showing how not to do it. Dietl called de Blasio a criminal; Malliotakis calmly focused on how developers who have raised tens of thousands of dollars for the mayor have received favors from his administration.
Malliotakis also shows ideological flexibility. She doesn’t insist the free market will solve the problem of how to house poorer senior citizens — which it won’t. She just prefers a better government solution to the one de Blasio offers.
Malliotakis acknowledged gentrification isn’t an unalloyed good, as it raises the cost of living. And she didn’t take easy bait — leaving attacks on bike lanes to Dietl.
And, in response to Dietl’s charge that neither she nor the mayor has ever held a real job, she wholeheartedly defended a career in government, explaining how she has helped her constituents over the years as an assemblywoman. It’s a nice change from GOP hopefuls who demonize government while wanting to join it.
Electoral shock or not next week, Malliotakis has performed honorably, and has shown empathy toward people with real problems, rather than sticking to a robot-Republican talking-points playbook.
This is the change we need as the city, and the country, figure out what to do during and after Trump. Finally, she was brave enough to run — when everyone else stayed on the sidelines.
This piece originally appeared in the New York Post
This piece originally appeared in New York Post