Kathryn Garcia, the Democrat who defies sexism in New York | International

Kathryn Garcia, Democratic candidate for mayor of New York, this Saturday in Brooklyn.Joana Toro

The fate of Kathryn Garcia (Brooklyn, 51 years old) as a candidate in the Democratic primary for mayor of New York (June 22) seemed cast. A modest campaign has maintained it since December, when he jumped to the fore, in the caboose of the ten candidates to replace the Democrat Bill de Blasio. Despite being the only candidate with experience in municipal management – in front of several councils since 2014, she was for many the mayor in the shadows -, her name barely sounded among the crowd. The best placed, Andrew Yang and Eric Adams -two men-, even allowed themselves to consider her defeated before her time, by offering to be number two of their hypothetical governments. But Garcia received a decisive accolade last Monday, that of the newspaper’s editorial board The New York Times, which elected her the most qualified candidate to rule post-pandemic New York.

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There is little at stake in the local elections in November: the suitability of the manager to restore New York to its shine as the cultural and financial capital of the world, in a period marked by economic uncertainty, the return to classes and offices, a clear upturn in armed violence and the hope generated by mass vaccination, with fear of relapse. A key moment of which Garcia, with a reputation as a skilled manager, is fully aware. “The first is the serious problem of food insecurity, which affects about two million New Yorkers. It is an acute problem, so we must coordinate efforts throughout the city, because there are areas that even lack food banks. It is not just about recovering from the pandemic, but about doing everything necessary so that a hypothetical emergency does not condemn anyone to hunger in the future, “Garcia explained on Monday, hours before receiving the newspaper’s support, in a telephone conversation. with this newspaper.

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Garcia, who lives two blocks from the house in Brooklyn where he grew up in a diverse family – five adopted children of different races – knows the problem of hunger well, since between March and December 2020 he was responsible for the emergency program of food of the City council. Before that, he had been councilor for Sanitation (a department with 10,000 employees and a $ 2 billion annual budget, about 1,647 million euros) and interim head of Housing, another formidable challenge in a city that expels many of its inhabitants due to the exorbitant price of the accommodation. Garcia sums up in one word, affordability (affordability), your government program. “[Antes de la pandemia], people were forced to leave New York because they could not raise their children. I want everyone to be able to do what my parents did: to support their family with the logical difficulties, but without hardships, ”he says by phone. In 2019, 2,600 New Yorkers left the city a week, 376 a day, due to the housing crisis, according to the US Census Bureau, recalls the candidate, two of whose proposals are to “build 50,000 apartments for the segment most disadvantaged of the population ”and end the shelter system for the thousands of homeless, a bleeding wound in the city, thanks to“ 10,000 support homes ”enabled from empty houses.

After the fall from grace due to allegations of sexual harassment of one of the best-placed candidates, the city comptroller, Scott M. Stringer – the favorite of progressives – the Democratic support is now shuffled like the pieces of a puzzle and, As candidates Yang, a former White House candidate, and Adams, the president of the Brooklyn district, continue to enjoy favor in the polls, Garcia is gaining traction daily – he has doubled his intention to vote since Monday. Meanwhile, sexism plays against these candidates. “I do not introduce myself to number two, but to mayor. It is sexist, totally sexist. It seems like they are paying me a compliment, but no. I don’t need any of them to be mayor, I can do it alone. And it does not seem that they look very capable when they already play the trick of the number two”He says about the offer of his rivals.

For a major media outlet to rule on the suitability of a candidate is common practice in the United States. But the support of the Times has turned all the cards face up. Especially those of Yang, with an effervescent media campaign, many famous supporters and whom the polls still consider a favorite, but who stumbled this week with a highly criticized tweet about the Middle East conflict. Garcia has had less public impact – it premiered on Twitter in September – but the support of the Times It has multiplied its visibility and its presence in Google, where it led searches in recent days. On Saturday, he received the The New York Daily News.

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In the first televised debate of the primaries, last Thursday, the candidate pulled the program, also focused on the demand for security, when the city experiences an increase in violence by firearms that is very noticeable since the pandemic. “We will not be able to reopen the economy if people do not feel safe, if they are afraid in the streets or the subway. My plans include reinforcing the role of the police and involving them more in the neighborhoods, in the communities, as well as controlling the presence of weapons in the streets. Because they all come from abroad, from other states, they are not manufactured here. This control and respect for the work of the police department are essential to increase security, “he explains. Security is another of the driving ideas of his program, far removed from the progressive mantra defund the police (defunding police), coined after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis in May 2020.

Pragmatism, restraint, common sense. The qualities that for some are a demerit, seem to have forged a candidate from one piece. Target of the sexism of his adversaries, he knows where to look for more support: his proposal of free child care for families with fewer resources is aimed at “one in four women who is thinking of taking a step back [quedarse en casa], after having suffered especially the pandemic ”. That, and the promise of efficient public services – with a deficit municipal transportation company, topped off by losses caused by the coronavirus – is all it takes to persuade the electorate Kathryn Garcia, the candidate who empowered herself against sexism .

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