A Q&A with New York City mayoral candidate, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis
Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis may not be the biggest fundraiser on the Republican ticket for New York City mayor, but she's immediately become a force for her chief party rival Paul Massey to reckon with. The young and, for now, only female in the race stopped by the City & State offices to sit in on The Slant podcast with Nick Powell and Gerson Borrero to offer her take on the city's immigration policies and why being a Republican would help her build relationships in Washington. This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
C&S: You filed a lawsuit to keep the city from destroying the IDNYC records that immigrant advocates feared could get into the hands of the federal government. You’re also the daughter of immigrants. How do you reconcile your positions on immigration?
NM: There’s a policy in New York City where we don’t ask people their immigration status. City agencies don’t do so. You go report a crime at NYPD, we’re not going to ask your immigration status. That’s to protect the victims, we want people to come forward. But that’s not what this mayor’s doing. What this mayor now is doing is taking it to an extreme level, saying, if you commit all sorts of crimes, including grand larceny, sexual abuse (ed: in the second- and third-degree), forcible touching, identity theft, welfare fraud, patronizing a child for prostitution, we’re not going to comply with detainer requests.
Unfortunately, some elected officials in our city are using this issue to fearmonger people, to make them afraid, so they can control them and keep them supporting them. When in reality what they’re doing is keeping these individuals in the shadows of society and, at the same time, making both immigrant communities and our citizens unsafe by allowing individuals who commit such crimes to stay here. So I think we can be a compassionate city, we can try to do what we can to advocate – and me as a Republican will be able to have the best position to push the president and Republicans in Congress to do something, to streamline the process and keep harping on that and how it affects people in New York City. But I’m not going to tolerate people who are here illegally and committing crimes! I’m just not going to do it.
C&S: You’ve been a legislator since 2011. What different approach would you take to advocating for the city’s interest on the state level?
NM: The governor and I have not always seen eye to eye, but we put aside all our differences after Hurricane Sandy when my district was devastated. The governor did the right thing by the people of my district. All those things have to be a priority, not the petty stuff. And I think that I would be able to work with Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo, and certainly better than this mayor is! Most people would be able to work with him better than this mayor has, and the people that suffer at the end of the day are the people of New York City.
C&S: What lessons have you learned from past Republican mayors and candidates on how they ran the city and managed their campaigns?
NM: No. 1 is, being a Republican in New York, you need to be able to compromise with the Democrats. Absolutely. And listen to their point of view and try to find a common solution. No. 2 is you’ve got to use taxpayer money wisely. No. 3, the solution to every problem, unlike what this mayor thinks, is not throwing money after bad money already spent. And No. 4 – this is what I’ll say – whatever I tell the union groups, I tell the business people. It’s the same. I don’t try to pander at all. Whatever I tell the immigrant groups, I’ll tell the tea party. This is who I am, this is what I’m offering, and hopefully New Yorkers will see that I’m the best choice and I’m better than what we have. But that’s it. I’m going to be honest in who I am.
C&S: Are you going to campaign in the Bronx?
NM: I’m going to definitely be in the Bronx! Are you kidding me? Vamos a hablar con la gente. Vamos a comer mofongo. Vamos a ver Los Yankees también. (Let's talk to people. Let's eat mofongo. Let's see the Yankees too.)