BY JOE MARVILLI
As part of the Queens Tribune’s ongoing series of interviews with City and Queens candidates running for elected office, Adolfo Carrion Jr. stopped by to discuss his run for mayor as an Independent.
Although this is Carrion’s first mayoral campaign, the Bronx politician is no stranger to the ins and outs of the City. He began his career as a public school teacher and then served as the District Manager of Bronx Community Board 5. He won a seat in the New York City Council in 1997. In 2001, Carrion won the election to become the next Bronx Borough President.
Carrion’s career was boosted to a national level in 2009 when he was appointed by President Barack Obama to be his Deputy Assistant and the first Director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs.
While he was a Democrat, Carrion is pursuing his mayoral run as an Independent, a subject he discussed with the Tribune.
Carrion felt that the current political climate was a “perfect storm” for an Independent candidate, mentioning how the electorate’s frustration is coming through with a declining number of voters and how terms like “special interests” mean nothing to ordinary citizens.
“The average person in New York City is concerned about their kids’ education and making sure we really fix the schools,” Carrion said. “The average person out there is looking for a city that works for their family, where they can borrow money, take a little risk and run a business.”
On education, Carrion felt that the City was failing its students by teaching to the test, which has removed creativity from the classroom and taken away authority from teachers and principals.
“We need to go back to the notion of creating a citizenry of critical thinkers, people who have good judgment,” he said.
Carrion added that if elected, he would focus on ensuring every neighborhood has an excellent public school so parents can avoid going to great lengths to find a decent place to send their children.
“My aim is to create world-class neighborhood schools so we’re not having this hysterical environment we have now, where families are shopping around the City to find the best school to put their child in,” he said.
When it came to small businesses, Carrion pushed forward an idea of having a one-stop shop for business owners, so they can take care of all their affairs with the government in one location, rather than having to go to several departments.
“We need to ensure that we have a business-friendly city and that people are willing to take their savings, go get a loan and take a risk on New York,” the candidate said.
He added that New York City needs to prepare for the new digital age of the economy, which he called an app economy. In order to support this technology-focused movement, Carrion felt that the City will need to start laying down infrastructure and build its digital capacities.
While Carrion supported small businesses, he was far more wary when it came to the proposal by Major League Soccer to build a commercial stadium in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, a project he said was partially-cooked.
“If Major League Soccer wants to have a major league venue for the sport, then let them find the land and build the stadium wherever they can find it,” he said. “I don’t think we should be sacrificing parkland for that.”
In terms of the City’s recovery from Superstorm Sandy, Carrion thought that the City should both work to rebuild a safer waterfront for those who want to remain there but it should also offer to buy the property from those who wish to leave the area.
“We need to advance this idea that we will buy some of these properties from these families if they make the decision of no longer wanting to stay there. We have to buy them at the pre-storm market value,” he said. “For those people who make the choice that they’re going to stay, we have to change our building code.”
Reach Reporter Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.