GOP mayoral hopefuls skirmish


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  • Bo Dietl, with the microphone, was among four Republicans candidates making their cases at the Metropolitan Club to be the GOP nominee in this year's mayoral contest. Other candidates at the Wednesday night forum were, from Dietl’s left, Michel Faulkner, Nicole Malliotakis and Paul Massey. The Manhattan Republican Party’s chairwoman, Adele Malpass, seated at right, moderated. Photo: Madeleine Thompson



But four candidates at Upper East Side forum agree that de Blasio is a common foe

BY MADELEINE THOMPSON

In her introduction to Wednesday night’s mayoral candidate screening, Manhattan Republican Party’s Chairperson Adele Malpass laid down the law.

“We’re going to follow Ronald Reagan’s '11th Commandment,'” she said, “which is ‘thou shalt not speak ill of other Republicans.’”

Malpass’ decree was broken more than once by the forum’s four candidates, who jabbed at each other for everything from incorrectly filling out paperwork to donating to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign. “Can we speak ill of Bo?” pastor Michel Faulkner joked, referring to fellow candidate Bo Dietl’s current status as an independent.

Faulkner, former city police detective Dietl, Staten Island Assembly Member Nicole Malliotakis and real estate executive Paul Massey answered questions at the Metropolitan Club on East 60th Street in front of a packed house of more than 100 people. Cheers abounded at any criticism of de Blasio, who was lambasted by the candidates for protecting immigrants from deportation, failing to fix the homelessness crisis and what they characterized as a bloated city budget.

“I’m currently suing [de Blasio] ... to try to stop the destruction of city records associated with the municipal ID card,” Malliotakis said in her opening remarks. “It’s about safety, it’s about government transparency and it’s about rule of law.”

Malliotakis is the newest addition to the mayoral race, having filed her paperwork the day before the screening. Still, she aggressively marketed herself as a connection to the city’s immigrant voters and as an experienced legislator.

Massey, considered the GOP frontrunner, emphasized his business acumen and his well-established campaign as key advantages. “Our campaign has been in place for well over a year,” he said. “That we’ve already had millions of dollars flow into our campaign is evidence, pure and simple, of a groundswell of support for me.”

Massey has so far outraised de Blasio, but he is also spending more than he has taken in. Massey called the current mayor an “Olympic-level failure” and harshly criticized his administration’s decriminalization of minor offenses. On the announced closing of Rikers Island, Massey said “we need to close the thing that is Rikers Island, but sending it into different neighborhoods of the city makes no sense whatsoever.”

Dietl’s trademark brash rhetoric did its job to entertain the audience, though it got him into trouble towards the event’s conclusion. He described the Manhattan Supreme Court judge whose ruling prevented him from running as a Democrat as resembling first lady Chirlane McCray, which, Dietl said, is when he knew the judge, Debra James, would “give [him] trouble.”

He also promised to get rid of bike lanes as his first act, should he be elected, and accused de Blasio of turning the city into “Sodom and Gomorrah” by letting topless so-called desnudas perform in Times Square.

For his part, Faulkner touted his time spent working with the homeless and with public housing residents. “Nobody else can say that they’ve fed the homeless or have eaten a meal with them.” he said. “The crisis is epic. We don’t have time to learn on the job. I don’t need to experiment; I know exactly what to do.”

He suggested restoring homeless shelters at religious institutions and requiring proof of residency to enter a shelter. He said he would open a homeless shelter in City Hall if he could.

The crowd was receptive, at various moments, to all of the candidates, but mostly to the idea of ousting de Blasio. They seemed to share Malpass’ sentiment that any of the candidates would be an improvement over the current leadership.

The mayoral hopefuls will begin gathering signatures in June to run in the September primary.

Madeleine Thompson can be reached at newsreporter@strausnews.com


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