The next Bloomberg? A Q&A with New York City GOP mayoral candidate Paul Massey
This week, Paul Massey made headlines for raising $1.6 million for his campaign for New York City mayor, a total that exceeded the $1 million raised by the incumbent, Bill de Blasio. Massey, a political neophyte who made his mark as a real estate developer in New York City, was seen as a long shot when he announced his candidacy last summer, but he is capitalizing on discontent with de Blasio, at least among his donors. In an inteview with City & State Editor-in-Chief Jon Lentz, Massey talked about de Blasio, Donald Trump and Michael Bloomberg. The following is an edited transcript.
C&S: How did you raise $1.6 million?
PM: Through a fantastic team that we’ve had in place for five months or so combined with the generosity of 900 friends and like-minded folks.
C&S: What’s one major problem you could fix?
PM: Homelessness is a big one for a lot of people we’re talking to. But it goes to leadership. With the homeless shelters being mismanaged, it’s a hallmark of the current administration. We need leadership that is management-focused, independent-minded and not beholden to special interest groups. I’m a political outsider.
C&S: Like Donald Trump, you’re also a real estate developer who’s independently wealthy and new to politics.
PM: We’re different people. I came to New York City with $150 in my pocket, and I scrapped my way to starting a small business. My business was a service business, so I had to lead and inspire hundreds of people. I’m a servant-leader. Not really making a comparison, but I’m a very hard worker, got to the office before 7 o’clock for 30 years, not hanging out in the gym until 11:30. I’m very disciplined and looking forward to running each of the city departments and having people be proud to be part of helping run the city – bringing in great managers to run each of the departments and high-level deputy mayors, that’s a pattern that’s followed us around for long time.
C&S: Are you more in the mold of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg?
PM: Michael Bloomberg was a great guy because when he didn’t need to, he dedicated his life to public service. It’ll be realized by a lot of people, but I’d be the third consecutive mayor who was from Boston, so we share similar roots. I’m sure we’re of a similar mindset. I’m a great admirer of his. One of the things that might be a contrast is my business was in every part of New York City and more than half of our revenue came from outside of Manhattan. So we were very much local service providers, and we told our teams in all the 53 neighborhoods that we served that we wanted to foster investment in properties and help finance them, apartment buildings and store buildings for regular folks and hard-working small businesspeople. We also told our team to be community-minded, so for the last 30 years I’ve been in every market and every neighborhood and I’m known by community leaders in Bed-Stuy, Borough Park, Flushing, Staten Island. Actually campaigning is quite familiar to me, because it’s what I’ve done my whole life, being in these neighborhoods. And it’ll be a great advantage to running the city because I’m steeped in New York City.
C&S: Trump, who now heads the Republican Party, has continued to be a divisive figure, even after getting elected. What’s your take on him?
PM: My focus is in running New York City. The job of the mayor is to really look out for the 8 million people who work here. I think that the current mayor has stated that he never intended to be the “pothole mayor.” I’ll be the pothole mayor. I’ll get out there and fix potholes myself. If people in Queens aren’t getting their streets plowed, I’ll drive the plows myself. I’m a detailed, hands-on guy, but also a guy who can set a vision for what we want to be in five years. Where’s the next 7 train extension to create Hudson Yards? Where’s the next great infrastructure project? Who’s going to clean up Penn Station? We just need to move forward. Leadership is all about building consensus, building alignment, and then moving forward. We’ve lacked that for three years, and people feel it and it’s very disconcerting to them.