Watch: NYC Mayoral Candidate Shaun Donovan Touts ‘Deep Experience’ in Leading Through Crisis
By Lynda Lopez, WCBS Newsradio 880
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — In a little over seven months, New Yorkers will head to the polls to elect their next mayor who will face a myriad of challenges, including overseeing the city’s pandemic recovery.
Shaun Donovan announced his candidacy for mayor in February 2020, just before the lockdowns that hurt an otherwise booming economy, revealing an underbelly of inequities in prosperity, health care and housing.
Donovan served as secretary for Housing and Urban Development and as the director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Obama administration. Prior to that, he served as commissioner of the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
For the latest WCBS 880 Weekly Rewind, Donovan tells anchor Lynda Lopez that it’s that experience which makes him the best candidate to lead the city through its next chapter.
“No one in this race has the deep experience that I do in leading through crisis,” Donovan said. “I’ve been called on again and again in this city, and across the country, to lead through crisis, but I also have the biggest, boldest ideas for the future of this city and I have the experience to actually turn those ideas into reality — working on the city level, at the neighborhood level, but also at the national level. So I really do think in this moment of crisis, where we’ve lost so many New Yorkers, we need a mayor, whether through housing and hurricanes and so many other crises, who’s actually led, who’s actually shown that we can build back, but build back better, build back a city that actually works for everyone.”
Speaking to his experience within the Obama administration, Donovan said he was called on to lead in the “midst of the worst housing crisis of our lifetime,” as well as the recovery effort post-Sandy.
“When he asked me to lead the $4 trillion federal budget just three weeks later, Ebola hit, and so one of the things that I bring is that no one else in this race has sat side by side with Dr. (Anthony) Fauci in the situation room, has helped develop vaccines, has helped make sure that we’re actually getting everyone vaccinated, that we’re bringing a city back whether it’s after a pandemic, or after a hurricane, or a housing crisis,” Donovan said, adding that he also understands the importance of partnering with community organizations to bring about change after working in the South Bronx and Central Brooklyn 30 years ago.
“We need everybody at the table if we’re going to really beat the crises that we’re facing right now,” he said.
During the conversation, Donovan was also critical of the vaccine rollout in the city.
“It’s been a failure,” he said bluntly. “When our essential workers, Black and Brown New Yorkers who have been on the frontlines, whether keeping our subways running, as the heroes in our hospitals, our nurses and doctors, aren’t able to get vaccines quickly enough, then something’s not working.”
Lopez also asked Donovan how the city can be more affordable for New Yorkers.
We posed this question to several mayoral candidates amid a startling report from Street Easy that shows essential workers cannot afford 96% of the listings on its site, with their average salary of $56,000.
Donovan explained his idea of “15-minute neighborhoods.”
“Within 15 minutes of your front door, every New Yorker should have not just a great school for your kids and a job that sustains your family, you should have transportation that gets you around the city quickly, you should access to the health care that you need — whether it’s to get a COVID test or to get a vaccine or to get the pre-natal care, the mental health care that’s so critical at this time… but we should also have access to fresh food, to parks, to all of the things that contribute to the underlying health disparities that have led to such disproportionate impacts of COVID around our city,” Donovan said. “All of those things and more are what every New Yorker should have within 15 minutes of their front door and that’s how I’m proposing that we plan our city going forward.”
The mayoral candidate was also asked about whether he believes Gov. Andrew Cuomo should step down amid dual scandals involving sexual harassment allegations and COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes.
“Enough is enough,” Donovan said. “We’ve heard from too many brave, courageous women, women I believe, that sexual harassment is real in the governor’s mansion, in the executive office building, in Albany, and now is the time for the governor to step down. If he won’t, then we need to move forward with an impeachment process, but enough is enough. I’ve been deeply moved and angered by the stories that I’ve heard and I believe them and it’s time for him to resign.”
Hear comprehensive analysis of the top stories of the week and original reporting on The 880 Weekly Rewind hosted by Lynda Lopez Friday nights at 7 PM on WCBS-AM New York. Listen to this week’s full show, produced by Neil A. Carousso, on the media player above.