Jan 14, 2021
Andrew Yang Announces Candidacy for NYC Mayor Transcript January 14
Andrew Yang announced his candidacy for mayor of New York City on January 14, 2021. Read the transcript of his speech announcement here.
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Andrew Yang: (00:00)
So excited to be here with you all today. Socially distanced, no one’s within say 10 feet of me. Masked up and with my lovely wife, Evelyn, and our two incredible boys, Christopher and Damien. I am so thrilled to announce to you all that I am running for mayor of New York City.
Andrew Yang: (00:26)
New York City is the greatest city in the world. And ordinarily when someone says something like that, it’s a political talking point. But in this case, it is a fact, am I right? And it is this great city that I’ve had the privilege of calling home for the last 25 years. I arrived here, I was just showing someone the building that I lived in when I first moved into the city in 1996, fresh out of college on 118th and Amsterdam. Not that far from where we are right now. And I remember when I moved here, I felt like I was joining the center of the world. My life’s defining moments all happened right here.
Andrew Yang: (01:09)
I got to go crazy in the Garden for Larry Johnson’s four point play, I walked north away from the towers on 9/11, like so many of us, my two amazing sons were born at St Luke’s, but that was a little bit after I had my first date with Evelyn, which was at Amy’s Bread on 9th Avenue. You ordinarily have to have that first date before you end up a parent. Well the kids were born a few blocks North at St. Luke’s Roosevelt hospital. One of them during Hurricane Sandy. You all remember Hurricane Sandy, there were refugees from other hospitals that night because other hospitals were losing power while St Luke’s stayed open. I worked with friends and colleagues for years to create startups right here in New York. I was fortunate enough to build and lead one of the top education companies in the country. That is the kind of thing that New York City makes possible.
Andrew Yang: (02:06)
I founded the nonprofit Venture for America, which sought to help other communities achieve some of the economic dynamism that New York has enjoyed these past years. And most recently I launched a presidential campaign that not too many people were calling for before it happened, but turned into a movement with millions of Americans rallying around universal basic income and a new economy that works for us, the people. That campaign too was made possible by the support I received right here in New York. So it is here in New York City that my passion for uplifting people, for wanting to move our country forward got started. And now that we are facing this historic crisis, I am aiming to unleash and channel that energy for a human centered economy right here in New York, my home.
Andrew Yang: (03:00)
I’m running for mayor for a very simple reason. I see a crisis and believe that I can help. Over 25,000 New Yorkers and counting have died from COVID. 500,000 at least have been infected. Elmhurst and Brooklyn hospital were early national symbols of how serious this pandemic was going to be for millions around the country. 1 million New Yorkers are out of work with a city unemployment rate double the national average. Whole sectors of the economy shut down, hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs, Broadway, museums, galleries, all closed. The fears for our future that caused me to run for president have accelerated census pandemic started, and these numbers don’t even reflect how much worse Black and Brown New Yorkers have been hit by this virus and its economic impact. The inhumane economy that we have all been struggling to survive and has become more punishing during the pandemic. The problems of poverty and economic insecurity that we have faced for decades have now been strengthened and magnified, and New York City has become the front line for our nation’s struggles. We need bold ideas and a fresh approach to revive our city.
Andrew Yang: (04:23)
We need to look forward and adapt to the economic challenges of today and the future. We also need a city government focused on competence and delivering for our people every day. It’s a massive operation that requires a constant focus on management, on measurement, and results. So we need to break away from the politics of old, you know what I’m talking about, where we’re fighting over who is to blame and who failed to deliver when in reality the people have been losing and it is tearing our city apart. We need to rebuild New York, not as it was, but as how it deserves to be.
Andrew Yang: (05:02)
And that is my pledge to you as mayor, a positive vision for New York City and a rational progressive plan to implement it and make it a reality. We need antipoverty programs and we need a fact based government that puts results over politics. The first part is core to what I’ve stood for since I started in public service, we need to make New York City the COVID comeback city, but also the antipoverty city. As mayor, we will launch the largest basic income program in the history of the country right here in New York. We will lift hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers out of extreme poverty, putting cash relief directly into the hands of the families who desperately need help right now.
Andrew Yang: (05:53)
This is the type of move that our city leadership must make in this pandemic. Cash relief is literally the difference between a family eating and a family going hungry. It’s the difference between being homeless and having a roof over your head. Two years ago, no one would have fathomed Congress would ever directly send tens of millions of Americans around the country money with no strings attached. But last year, our federal government sent $1,200 to tens of millions of Americans, and it helped stabilize families and the economy. And $2,000 may be on the way, New York.
Andrew Yang: (06:29)
Calling for a vote on the $2,000 stimulus checks, which Joe Biden just endorsed, should be one of the first moves that new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer makes. I believe that our movement, the movement we built together, spurred that cash relief. And I’m proud to make New York City the example for the rest of our nation to follow. And while cash relief is needed, an antipoverty mayor can’t stop there. As mayor, we will have a COVID recovery plan that helps working people and not the stock market. We’re going to reopen 15,000 businesses in NYC during my first year.
Andrew Yang: (07:09)
As someone who ran a small business right here in New York, I know what it takes to get people back to work and businesses to reopen. We need an effective manager at the helm of this city and I will ensure that every last New Yorker who wants to be vaccinated gets vaccinated, promptly and receives the treatment they need so we can finally move beyond this virus. Our guidelines for small businesses will be clear and easy to comply with. The rug will never be pulled out from someone working to improve the city’s economy or their family’s way of life. We’ll also launch a people’s bank that makes financing and banking available to working people and small businesses across our five boroughs so they don’t have to turn to check cashers or money lenders who charge extortionate rates.
Andrew Yang: (07:58)
We are the world’s financial capital. Does it make sense to anyone here that 12% of New Yorkers are unbanked or underbanked? That makes no sense at all and we can change it. This is something that spoke very much to me as someone who’s been in this role, but as your mayor, I pledge the city will pay its bills on time. It is ridiculous that organizations that work with the city are waiting for months for payment that is owed to them by the city. I have run an organization and it is infuriating to work for a partner who’s not paying on time. As mayor, I pledge, we will reliably show our commitment to our partners and organizations here in the city and make sure they get paid within 30 days. Now I don’t know if that sounded wonky, but that sounds really important. You know what I mean? Like if you work at a nonprofit and you’re waiting for months for a payment, it’s brutal.
Andrew Yang: (08:50)
I was just in Flushing the other day where Evelyn grew up. Anytime I say Evelyn’s name, that I really should evoke applause. But in Flushing, talking to business owners there, it’s clear that an economic recovery for them is still a far off dream. As mayor, we have to make that dream, we will make that dream a reality with clear rational plans that put working New Yorkers first. And that is just the start. We need a fact-based government that can tackle multiple issues at once because the reality is our city is facing challenges on multiple fronts. One of those challenges is reforming the criminal justice system while also bringing down crime. We cannot let another Eric Garner die at the hands of law enforcement. We can’t let another Kalief Browder or Layleen Polanco, needlessly languish and die in jail.
Andrew Yang: (09:46)
We can’t let New Yorkers be afraid to go in this very park because of the tragic killing of Tessa Major steps from where we are right now. Violent crime is on the rise in our city and we need a mayor that works with our police department to keep our streets and children safe. Accountability of the NYPD means at least two things, holding them accountable when the rate of crime solved does not keep up with the rise in violent crimes and holding them accountable when they fail to respect our civil rights, the people they are sworn to serve and protect. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but the work can’t stop even in anything I’ve described, our fact-based government has to tackle our mass transit mess. We need reliable subways and more space on our streets for buses and bikes.
Andrew Yang: (10:35)
As mayor, I will regularly get around the city by subway, bus, or bike, because that’s the way most New Yorkers get around, and that’s how I’ve been getting around for 25 years. I will build bus rapid transit networks like the 14th street busway in every borough. I will have a fully electric bus system by 2030. [inaudible 00:10:59] electric buses. New York can move our people around in a way that’s sustainable for our neighborhoods and our planet. Building this forward-thinking transit network will require municipal control of the city’s subways and buses. As mayor, I will fight to get control of our subways and buses so we can control our own destiny.
Andrew Yang: (11:21)
Corey Johnson has it right, the city needs to control its own fate and you can’t do that if you don’t have control of the way people get around every single day. Now my boys are here and this is close to many families. We need to have better city leadership where improving our schools is concerned. My sons both go to school here in the city, one in public school, the other at a special school for children on the autism spectrum. I believe my family is a good model for the fact that every family is different and a one size fits all model will not work for many, many New Yorkers. As mayor, I’ll lead us to empower the greatest teachers in the world right here in New York to use the best technology available to teach our children. And we’ll get broadband access to the entire city so no one is disconnected from learning. If you’re data poor in the 21st century, it’s another form of poverty. And we’re going to stop that form of poverty here in New York when I’m mayor.
Andrew Yang: (12:22)
You know I joke with folks, the only thing worse than online school is no school. That’s a parent joke, I don’t know. You know what I’m talking about. We have our work cut out for us. This city is overdue for bold and rational leadership that addresses homelessness, land use, public health, climate change, and more, but New Yorkers need to know that our leaders are working for us. We have to show Americans and immigrants alike that this is still the city of opportunity and we need to show tourists around the world why this is still the most fun and exciting place to visit on the planet.
Andrew Yang: (13:01)
Under my leadership, New York City will have a strong voice in Washington, DC. Our city has generated more value for this nation than we’ve been receiving in return for years. New York sends $25 billion a year to our federal government. That’s number one in the country. I will make the case to my friends in Washington, and one of them is here with me today, that there is no national recovery without a New York City recovery and that investing in our city will pay off many times over. My ties are strong with our partners in the White House and the Capitol. I have a lot of their phone numbers. I campaign for Democrats up and down the ballot, including our two brand new senators from Georgia.
Andrew Yang: (13:45)
John Ossoff just called me last night to thank me. And it’s going to be great working with him and Reverend Warnock and new majority leader Chuck Schumer to get some of the bills that we know the country needs across the finish line. I’m so proud to have helped John and Reverend Warnock win. I’m also proud to call President Elect Biden and Vice President Elect Harris and incoming transportation secretary, Pete Buttigieg, friends of mine. These relationships will pay dividends for our city when we want to get things done. I got to tell you New York, I am excited. Are you excited?
Andrew Yang: (14:20)
We need a mayor of New York City that will do whatever it takes to get us back on our feet. This city has meant the world to me and my family just as it has to yours, but we are still in the midst of a crisis. With the right leadership, we can come back faster than any other city. My parents can’t be with us today. We haven’t seen them. They’re alive. My parents can’t be with us today. We haven’t seen them in months because of COVID, but I’ve strived to live up to the example they set for me and my brother my entire life. They immigrated from Taiwan where my dad grew up on a peanut farm with dirt floors. They worked hard, built careers, raised a great family. They lived the American dream. My living here in New York has always felt like a realization of their dream. New York is home to the statue of Liberty, Ellis Island.
Andrew Yang: (15:12)
It remains a symbol of what this country means to so many around the world. We are still that city, New York. So today let us begin the campaign to move New York City forward. It will take all of us and we need to do it together. In the weeks and months ahead, I will be all over the five boroughs, Staten Island, that means you too. I’m going to visit [inaudible 00:15:36] homes and hear how the residents have been fairing during this pandemic. I will tour hospitals and visit Rikers to better understand how we are treating the imprisoned. I’ll explore the depths of our city’s infrastructure. I will visit small business owners to see how we can help them reopen.
Andrew Yang: (15:51)
I’ll meet with teachers, principals, and students about how we can help your kids and mine get back on track. I’ll meet with as many New Yorkers as I can. I have found that people know best how to solve their own problems and they have a way of letting you know what we can do to help. I plan on releasing more policy proposals than any other candidate over the weeks to come. You will know exactly where I stand on the issues that matter to you and your family. And if you have ideas as to how your city can help you, we want to hear them. Together we will bring New York City back better than ever. Thank you New York, let’s move this city we love forward. Thank you. Thank you New York, I love you.
Andrew Yang: (16:32)
Thank you. And the first New Yorker I am honored to introduce as an official mayoral candidate is my friend and co-chair of my campaign, Congressman Ritchie Torres. I’m going to say a few words about Ritchie. He is a phenomenal young leader in Washington, fighting for the people in his district in the Bronx that has been among the hardest hit this past year. His progressive and independent voice and character is exactly what New York City needs in its leaders right now. Ritchie, I’m so excited that you’re here. Yes, give it up for my friend Ritchie Torres.
Ritchie Torres: (17:28)
Good morning, Yang gang. I know those in the press are especially surprised to see me. I’m surprised to see me. I’m a newly sworn in member of Congress and if someone had said to me a year ago, I would become a member of Congress during an infectious disease outbreak and witness a violent insurrection against the US Capitol and then vote to impeach Donald Trump and then become the co-chair of Andrew Yang’s mayoral campaign, I would have said, “That’s quite a bit of drama in less than two weeks.” But this week I’ve made two consequential decisions at the very beginning of my congressional career. First, I voted to impeach Donald Trump to save our country from authoritarianism. And today, I have chosen to endorse Andrew Yang for mayor of the city of New York, to save our city from the failed politics of the past.
Ritchie Torres: (18:42)
Politics as usual in New York city is too small to fit the magnitude of this moment. We are facing a perfect storm of crises, the likes of which we have never seen before. Never in the history of our country has our state government and our city government and the MTA, the lifeblood of our city, have all been caught in a fiscal death spiral. And so what we need is not more of the same. Albert Einstein famously said, “If you do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result, that’s the definition of insanity.” Or that to me is the definition of absurdity. What we need is an escape from the absurdity of New York City politics. What we need is an infusion of new ideas and new energy and new leadership. And what I have found in Andrew Yang is a leader who represents a break from the failed politics of the past, from a political establishment that has largely failed the people of New York in our moment of greatest crisis.
Ritchie Torres: (20:05)
Andrew is a problem solver who’s going to make our city work, not for political insiders, but for all New Yorkers, especially the most vulnerable New Yorkers. As a public figure, Andrew has a record of fighting for the things that matter. Even before there was widespread agreement on the need for $2,000 stimulus checks, Andrew was the singular voice in American politics, the singular voice advocating for a basic income. And Andrew’s vision of a basic income is particularly powerful in a world of depression level unemployment. I represent the South Bronx, which has seen a catastrophic loss of income. In neighborhoods like West Farm, the unemployment rate could be as high as 25%.
Ritchie Torres: (21:07)
Andrew is going to fight for the families who are struggling to survive in our city. He’s going to make New York City work for the most vulnerable among us. Now we all know that Andrew’s a true New Yorker, but I will admit he’s not a creature of the political establishment here in New York City. And there are many political insiders who are threatened by that. There are many who see that as a problem. I see that as the solution because his independence is going to liberate him to be the kind of leader that we need in our moment of greatest crisis.
Ritchie Torres: (21:51)
When a future mayor Andrew Yang approaches any issue affecting New York City, he’s going to do so in a spirit of independence, he’s not going to ask whether it’s politically expedient, he’s not going to ask whether it serves the interest of donors or political insiders, he’s going to ask, “Is it the right thing to do? Is it good for New York? Is it good for New Yorkers? Is it good for the most vulnerable among us? Is it good for the people of the South Bronx?” Andrew has the unique capacity to be a unifying figure in a time of division. He has the unique capacity to be an inspirational problem solver and policy maker in a time of performative politics. He’s exactly the transformational leader that we need in our moment of greatest crisis. And I am honored to join the grandson of Martin Luther King, Jr in serving as the co-chair of the mayoral campaign of our future mayor Andrew Yang. Thank you very much.