After Andrew Yang announced his official run for mayor of New York City, the former 2020 presidential candidate met with Queens Borough President Donovan Richards on Thursday for lunch in Flushing.
Richards joked that he tried to get Yang to “endorse the Knicks,” while discussing the many challenges that Queens has faced during the pandemic, including adding more hospitals, protecting residents from evictions and improving transportation.
“Many of the issues that have really been exacerbated by this pandemic,” Richards said. “We were the epicenter of the epicenter of this crisis.”
He would not officially endorse Yang for mayor, but said he is “looking for ideas” from all the candidates in the race.
“I am looking for someone who's going to have a vision, that's going to move this city forward, but also, an individual who's going to make sure that Queens is front and center in this recovery,” Richards said.
Yang said that Richards is someone that everyone admires, and the candidate who receives the borough president’s endorsement should be “very grateful.”
“He’s someone who works with anybody,” Yang said. “That’s exactly the kind of leadership this city needs.”
Yang also touched on the issues facing the city as a whole, bringing up a conversation he had with a restaurant owner in Queens who had to close up shop after 35 years in business.
“That decision is playing out over and over again here in Queens and around the city,” Yang said.
He talked about how he has lived in New York City with his wife Evelyn for 25 years and called it “the greatest city in the world.”
“I’m running because we are in the midst of a historic crisis,” Yang said. “I believe I can help.”
He is running on a platform of Universal Basic Income (UBI), which comes with the promise of giving direct cash payments to people in poverty.
“If you’re in extreme poverty, you’re trying to survive, you’re having difficulty keeping a roof over your head, or feeding yourself or your family,” Yang said. “if you have a little bit of money in your hands, it’s going to give you a much better chance at actually potentially finding a job.”
While there are critics of the UBI program, Yang said that these much-needed resources will be essential in helping New Yorkers get back on their feet.
“Anyone who thinks that getting a little bit of money in the hands of the extremely poor is going to somehow curb their work ethic, in my opinion, has never actually spent time with people who are poor, and should do so before they have that kind of critique,” Yang said.
With the insurrection at the Capitol last week still fresh in every American’s mind, Yang also brought up Donald Trump, and said the president’s name on buildings in New York needs to go.
“It has bothered me even before he incited a riot that took multiple lives in our nation’s Capital,” Yang said. At a minimum, we should be excising Trump’s name so that New Yorkers do not have to see it and think that somehow he’s associated with our city.”
Andrew Yang may be a buzz-worthy candidate, but he still has to face off with established New York politicians like Comptroller Scott Stringer, Wall Street favorite Ray McGuire, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and many more.
The New York City Mayor race is crowded, with multiple candidates vying to win the Democratic nomination, with the primary taking place on June 22.