NEW YORK - Former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang has officially started his run to succeed Bill de Blasio as Mayor of New York City with a call for a universal basic income for half-a-million of the city's poorest residents.
Yang appeared on Friday's Good Day New York to talk about his campaign.
"We can eradicate extreme poverty in New York City," Yang said. "If you put just a little money in their hands it can actually be what keeps them in their home and, again, avoids them hitting city services that are incredibly expensive."
He admits his plan will need to include very difficult budgetary decisions.
Some political experts say that the biggest issue facing Yang's campaign may be that he isn't considered enough of a New Yorker by voters to lead the city. That is a notion Yang rejects.
"Anyone who thinks that somehow my New Yorkness is in question can just come and say it to my face and see how ridiculous it is," Yang has said. "I remember walking north away from the crumbling towers on 9/11. I remember getting married to Evelyn at City Hall. I remember having our son at St. Luke's while Hurricane Sandy was turning the lights off all over the city."
Yang has also received some backlash from voters and his opponents after telling the New York Times why his family of four fled the city during the pandemic.
"Can you imagine trying to have two kids on virtual school in a two-bedroom apartment, and then trying to do work yourself?" Yang told the Times in a comment that was criticized as insensitive and out-of-touch.
"He's been running for President, he hasn't voted in municipal elections pretty much ever, he decamped to New Paltz during the worst of the pandemic. I think he has to show that he's contributed to the city in a real and meaningful way," said New York Magazine contributor David Freedlander.
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A recent survey showed Yang with a single-point lead over Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams among likely Democratic primary voters.
"I moved to New York City 25 years ago," Yang said in a tweet announcing his candidacy. "I came of age, fell in love, and became a father here. Seeing our city in so much pain breaks my heart. Let's fight for a future New York City that we can be proud of."
The primary election for mayor of New York City is set to be held on June 22.