(Bloomberg) -- Tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang, a former presidential contender, officially declared his run for New York City mayor on Wednesday.
“I moved to New York City 25 years ago,” he said in a campaign video released Wednesday. “I came of age, fell in love, and became a father here. Seeing our City in so much pain breaks my heart.”
In the video, released on Twitter, he put forth an agenda that included a guaranteed minimum income, bringing universal high-speed Internet, starting a “people’s bank,” and reopening New York City “intelligently” from the pandemic.
That includes a focus on New York City’s nightlife. On his campaign website, Yang pledges to make permanent outdoor dining, “to-go cocktails,” and other temporary measures put in place during the pandemic.
Yang’s basic income program would start by providing $2,000 a year to half a million New Yorkers in extreme poverty. Participants would receive the cash through monthly transfers to a bank account opened in their name at a newly-created “People’s Bank.”
His most detailed policy focuses on reviving the city’s small businesses. He pledged to open 15,000 small businesses by 2022 and also offered a bevy of unconventional ideas, including buying outdoor heaters in bulk and then selling them to the city restaurants that are serving diners outdoors in frigid winter weather as indoor dining remains shut. He also suggested the city make an investment in Cinch Market, a Brooklyn startup that brings together small businesses on one online platform, whose tagline is “Shop Brooklyn Not Bezo$.”
Yang, whose two kids attend public school in the city, also said he wanted to subsidize broadband for schools, expand the city’s universal preschool program, and reform the school system’s admissions process.” There will be no recovery without schools being open and teaching children safely every day,” he said.
Yang had filed paperwork with the city last month to explore a run. He joins more than two dozen people running for the seat, including Ray McGuire, the former vice chairman of Citigroup Inc.; Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams, city Comptroller Scott Stringer and former U.S. Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan. Incumbent Mayor Bill de Blasio is prevented by term limits from running again. Some initial polling shows Yang will start as one of the early frontrunners in the race.
New York City’s next mayor will face a number of economic and health challenges that have been spurred by the pandemic. More than 25,000 New Yorkers have died from Covid-19. The city is also facing a $3.8 billion deficit for the budget year beginning July, according to state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. Through October, New York City has recovered just 37% of the 944,100 jobs lost in March and April, when officials imposed an economic shutdown on non-essential businesses.
Born in Schenectady, New York, to immigrants from Taiwan, Yang worked for several startups before becoming chief executive officer of a Manhattan test-preparation company that was sold to Kaplan Inc. in 2009. In 2017, he declared his run for president.
Yang built his presidential campaign on a promise of $1,000 a month in universal basic income to every adult, with a tax on tech companies. He ended his bid in February 2020, but a longer-than-expected run throughout the Democratic primaries brought him a national platform that he used to campaign for President-Elect Joe Biden and Democrats who took control of the Senate.
(Updates with Yang’s policy details throughout, starting in fourth paragraph.)
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