This November, we will elect a new Mayor for New York City. But whom?
In 2008, Mayor Bloomberg got the City Council to change the term limits law, allowing him to run for a third term. My previous experience with third-term mayors (Ed Koch) is that the third term is when the wheels fall off. There were two referenda for term limits in the 1990s, and I voted for them both times.
On balance, Bloomberg has been a good mayor. I’ve bristled at his nanny-state moves, like the effort to ban large sodas, but he had been a good manager and has tried to stand up against he public employee unions. If there had been a referendum in 2008 to change the term limit laws, I would have voted for it: in the ten years since the previous referenda, term limits haven’t actually changed things very much.
But Bloomberg got the City Council to change the law without a referendum. (It’s a fair question how long a decision made by referendum should stand, but that’s a subject for another day.) I thought it was a dirty trick, but in 2009, I voted for him anyway: his opponent was just another Democratic politician, ready to raise taxes, give the store away to the public employee unions, and step back from the policies that have made New York the safest big city in America.
Now it’s 2013, and Mayor Bloomberg is not running for a fourth term. While the wheels haven’t come off like they did for Ed Koch, it’s still time for a change. But the field is a disappointment:
- Most of the Democratic challengers are career politicians who currently hold one office or another, and all seem to promise the same things: more government goodies and higher taxes on the rich to pay for it. (Unlike Federal taxes, there is very little headroom for raising local taxes, as it’s easy to move somewhere else.)
- I liked Anthony Weiner in 2009, but he didn’t make it through the Democratic primaries. After he left Congress in disgrace for Tweeting lewd pictures of himself, the bad jokes practically write themselves.
- Joe Lhota, the former MTA head, is probably the most promising candidate right now. But it’s hard to tell what he stands for: I fear that he may be so used to building consensus that he will not be able to make the tough decisions. His opponents will also be able to paint him as responsible for MTA fare hikes.
- John Catsimatidis, owner of the Gristedes supermarket chain, is a New York success story: the immigrant kid who made good in the Big Apple. But as a politician, he comes across as inept.
- George McDonald is an interesting Republican candidate, but I can’t see how he can get traction.
- Adolfo Carrion is a lifelong Democrat, but this year is running on the Independence Party ballot line, sidestepping the Democratic primaries and guaranteeing him a spot in the general election. How that actually recommends him for office, I do not know.