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Nicole Malliotakis Takes Aim at de Blasio

Jacob Kornbluh

Presumptive Republican mayoral candidate has her eyes on Gracie Mansion

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

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RACE FOR GRACIE Nicole Malliotakis: “I think New Yorkers have shown that they will cross party lines and support a Republican if it’s the right person and they are not happy with the current leadership”

N ew York mayor Bill de Blasio was widely ridiculed last week for jetting off to Germany to protest President Donald Trump just one day after a New York City police officer was shot dead, execution style, in the Bronx.

Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, who is running against de Blasio in the November mayoral election, tweeted a photoshopped image of the mayor wearing German lederhosen shorts with a sausage, kraut, schnitzel, and beer, adding: “While NYC’s subways crumble, litter on streets pile up and the number of street homeless soars...”

Malliotakis, who represents Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn, is the presumptive Republican mayoral nominee after Paul Massey — a millionaire real estate executive whom we profiled last month — withdrew from the race, citing the high cost of running an effective campaign.

Malliotakis, the daughter of Cuban and Greek immigrants, believes that her ethnic background and her experience in Albany will propel her long-shot bid in an issue-oriented race.

“In the short time he’s been in office, Mayor de Blasio has [implemented] a lot of bureaucracy in the government, and increased the number of employees in City Hall,” Malliotakis told Mishpacha during a recent interview at a coffee shop in Brighton Beach. But he has failed to address issues like homelessness, quality of life, a failing subway system, and tax increases.

“If you ask the average New Yorker who works hard every day and pays taxes,” Malliotakis said, “they would be disenchanted that they are being asked to spend more in terms of taxes and they are getting less in terms of results.”

On the issue of school vouchers and education system funding, Malliotakis said she is a cosponsor of a bill in the New York legislature that would provide a tax credit for individuals who donate scholarships to private schools. Mayor de Blasio is opposed to the same bill.

“This mayor has shown that he does not want to work toward getting vouchers or education tax credits,” she said. That’s an “important issue,” she said, because if private schools and yeshivos were to close, the students from those schools would overburden the public school system. “But our mayor has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to help failing schools, and they are not getting better.”

De Blasio has not responded directly to his likely opponent in the general election, but has already gone on the offensive. Last week, his campaign e-mailed supporters a 2013 photo of Malliotakis alongside President Trump, describing her as the president’s preferred candidate. A recent Quinnipiac poll showed Trump’s approval rating at 22 percent among New York City voters.

“This election is not about Trump,” Malliotakis responded. “This election is about the quality-of-life issues.”

“I think New Yorkers have shown that they will cross party lines and support a Republican if it’s the right person and they are not happy with the current leadership,” she asserted. Also, she said, “the issues I am going to be talking about are not ideological. I am talking about the basic things that people want to see happen in their city.”

Malliotakis has never visited Israel, but would be very happy to travel to the Jewish state. “Israel is one of our most important allies, and right now, when there’s so much crisis in the Middle East, it’s important to build that relationship. I was vocal against the Iran deal. I was also a cosponsor of the state resolution against the BDS movement.”

During the relatively short primary season, Malliotakis came under fire for receiving campaign contributions from controversial Palestinian activist Linda Sarsour, a prominent anti-Israel figure and anti-Trump organizer. Sarsour reemerged in the spotlight last week when she urged anti-Trumpers to wage “jihad” against the “white supremacists” in the White House. Malliotakis said she returned the Sarsour donations before announcing her run for mayor.

“I was part of the Bay Ridge Unity Task Force, and when there was an act of hate in the community, we would denounce it,” she said, explaining how she got to know Sarsour, a member of that task force. “This is five to six years ago. She had given me two donations of $150. Now, over the last few years, she has become increasingly divisive. We were no longer talking about unity, we were no longer talking about denouncing hate. In fact, she’s become inflammatory in many of her opinions on both Twitter and Facebook, and publicly.”

“I have always stood with the Jewish community,” she emphasized. “As a daughter of a Cuban refugee, I understand how important democracy and freedom are and being able to stand up for your beliefs. I am very much a patriotic person, and I think that is something that is very important when we talk about Israel and its right to exist.” 

Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 668. Jacob Kornbluh is also the political reporter for www.JewishInsider.com.

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