Meet the Socialist Candidate for NYC Mayor

“This is not a socialist country; Let’s get that straight, ”said the borough president of Brooklyn Eric Adams, the Democratic candidate for New York City mayor, in “Real Time with Bill Maher” in July following a hotly contested Democratic primary. Throughout his campaign, Adams has made it clear that he is not affiliated with the left. In fact, just a few days before the Bill Maher interview, he met supporters of democratic socialism with the announcement that “I am no longer running against candidates. I’m running against a movement“Refers to democratic socialist activists in New York and at the national level.

But that’s not entirely true. Adams is running against a number of candidates in the November 2nd election, and one of them proudly identifies himself as a socialist party candidate. Indeed, with multiple New York election campaigns with candidates identifying as Democratic Socialists and socialists running outside of the city on democratic lines, the country may be a little more socialist than Adams suspects.

While its main antagonist is Republican Curtis Sliwa, a talk radio host and longtime leader of Guardian Angels, Adam Faces seven other contenders from across the political spectrum. There is a conservative. There is a liberalist. And there is Cathy Rojas, a 30-year-old Queens public school teacher running for Socialism and Liberation Party.

“I’m running as a socialist” said Rojas. “We have been sold the lie that socialism is a frightening thing. Socialism is the future in which workers have power, can live with dignity, and where the basic prerequisites for survival are guaranteed rights that are not threatened on a daily basis. Under socialism, we, the workers who create wealth and profits, can dictate how resources are spent based on collaborative solutions that work, rather than the politicians in the pockets of big business and real estate developers. ”

The Rojas campaign promises “A city for everyone, not for the rich”. It has evolved their platform in collaboration with a volunteer campaign team made up of “colored working class women workers who came together to create a socialist platform that works,” she said. It calls for sustainable jobs for the unemployed and underemployed to be created with city funds, free means of transport and the definition of the police. She has a detailed plan to deal with the housing crisis, with real rental controls preventing landlords from charging more than 20 percent of tenants’ household income. And she wants the city to confiscate vacant lots in order to create affordable housing over the long term.

As a community activist who has been involved in mutual aid projects to support families hard hit by Covid-19, she wants to fully fund existing public hospitals and open new public hospitals in low-income neighborhoods and areas hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic .

Rojas would fund this transformation agenda by imposing higher taxes on millionaires and billionaires and creating a New York City public bank to provide affordable financial services to working families and make equitable investments.

Their vision has resonated not only with independent activists, but at least with some Democrats. Rojas has received support from several prominent political figures in the country’s largest city. Kristin Richardson Jordan, a candidate for Democratic City Council from District 9 of Central Harlem. called Rojas is “Harlem’s best candidate for mayor, and her policies are genuinely about the liberation of blacks and the breaking of systemic racism, white supremacy and patriarchy.” Another supporter, State Senator Julia Salazar, A Democratic Socialists of America who did not vote in the competition praised Rojas as a working class public school teacher who “has shown her commitment to empowering our weakest neighbors.”

Salazar said: “It is crucial that we challenge political hegemony by supporting Cathy: an inspiring, socialist candidate who stands to truly be the voice of the people.”

Despite the support she receives from elected officials and activists, Rojas is having a hard time breaking the political hegemony Salazar is referring to. Rojas’ low budget campaign raised a little over $ 20,000. That’s only a fraction of that more than $ 19 million Adams has raised through aggressive fundraisers targeting wealthy donors drawn by the candidate’s Wall Street-friendly promise that “New York will no longer be anti-business.”

Particularly annoying for Rojas was her exclusion from the mayor’s debates over Adams and Sliwa. “I work full time and fight with a team of dedicated volunteers. Because we haven’t raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, I’m excluded from the debates, ”said Rojas at a protest against their exclusion on October 20th. “In a society where money equals power and the media is necessary to get the message across to most people, a person like me can a workerIt’s not taken seriously unless the ultra-rich support my message. That’s rude. The working class also deserves their side in the debates! If the media really cared about what the nurses, supervisors and chefs were interested in, they would love to have our side at this stage of the debate. ”

So Rojas will not be able to directly challenge Adams with his claims about the appeal of socialism, nationally or in New York. But that’s worth mentioning several democratic socialists are expected to be elected to New York City Council on Tuesday. New York City public attorney Jumaane Williams, slated to be easily re-elected Tuesday, said in an interview with Jacobin magazine, “I have no problem saying that I am a democratic socialist.”

It is also worth noting that former Mayor David Dinkins was an active member of the DSA, that former Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia was once elected to Congress along the lines of the Socialist Party, and that Socialist Party candidates such as Norman Thomas and Morris Hillquit over 150,000 Votes in their applications for mayor in the late 1920s and early 1930s. And of course, in the second largest city in New York State, Buffalo, a Democratic Socialist, India Walton, is the Democratic candidate for mayor.


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