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Politics

Shaun Donovan Speaks with TNH about His Campaign for NYC Mayor

April 14, 2021

NEW YORK – Shaun Donovan, a lifelong New Yorker who served as United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Obama Cabinet from 2009-2014 and as Director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget from 2014-2017, is running for Mayor of New York City. He also served as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development from 2004-2009 under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. With less than 75 days until the primary, Donovan spoke with The National Herald about his campaign and his plan for “making our city a city that works for all New Yorkers.”

Donovan, 55, told TNH, “I’m running for mayor because our city is in crisis and I’m uniquely qualified to bring New York City back. We’ve lost over 30,000 of our fellow New Yorkers from the COVID-19 pandemic, and those left are struggling to pay their rent and feed their families, with hundreds of thousands of city residents losing their jobs and small businesses having to shutter their doors.”

Of his background, Donovan said, “I’m a lifelong New Yorker and the son of an immigrant who came to New York City, like so many millions of others, to live his American dream. He worked hard and succeeded. But the New York of my childhood was a different time of crisis.”

“In the 1970s, I watched the city turn its back on the homeless sleeping on the streets, on the neighborhoods that were burning to the ground,” he continued. “That experience lit a fire in me to go to work rebuilding those same communities across this city. I started my career helping our city’s homeless and creating deeply affordable housing to help low-income New Yorkers afford the rent and build wealth through homeownership.” 

“In the wake of 9/11, I helped NYC rebuild as our city’s Housing Commissioner,” Donovan told TNH. “Then President Obama called on me to serve as his Housing Secretary during the worst housing crisis of our lifetimes. There I led the recovery from the mortgage crisis and Great Recession.” 

“When Hurricane Sandy hit New York City, President Obama asked me to lead the federal effort to build back better and stronger and safer,” he continued. “He then asked me to oversee the 4 trillion dollar federal budget as Budget Director, determining what our nation invested in, while also helping manage our responses to Ebola and Zika.”

“I believe that these experiences managing crisis after crisis have put me in a unique position to help our city recover from the current crisis we are facing, while reimagining our city as a city that works for all New Yorkers.” 

When asked if he always wanted to go into politics, Donovan told TNH, “what separates me from many of the candidates in the field is that I am a public servant, not a politician, and I have never before sought to hold elected office. However, I have dedicated my entire life to public service and have more experience working in government at all levels and leading through crises than anyone else in the race.”

“Early in my career, I served alongside community leaders like Bishop Johnny Ray Youngblood to create 5,000 Nehemiah homes in Brooklyn and the Bronx, which allowed low-income New Yorkers to become homeowners and create true generational wealth for themselves and their families,” he continued. “Since then, I knew whatever career path I took, it would be one dedicated to serving the public. Entering this race is just an extension of that work, and I look forward to continuing to serve New Yorkers as the next mayor of our great city.”

Of his family’s reaction to his decision to run, Donovan said, “I’ve been blessed to have a family that is deeply supportive of my career in public service, even when we had to pick up and move to Washington, DC, so I could serve our country all eight years in the cabinet of the Obama-Biden Administration. So my public service has been their public service too.

“They are a big part of the reason I’m running.  My wife Liza is a landscape architect, and wants me to make sure every New Yorker has a park within 15 minutes of their front door. My older son Milo is passionate about climate change, and wants me to make New York the greenest, most sustainable city in the world. My younger son Lucas is a musician, and wants me to make sure all our arts and culture come back stronger than ever. No pressure, right?”

When asked about the most pressing issues facing New York City, Donovan told TNH that “the biggest issue facing our city is the COVID-19 pandemic and the related economic fallout. In addition to the over 30,000 New Yorkers who have lost their lives due to this disease, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers are without a job and countless small business owners, including those in our immigrants communities, have been forced to close.”

“That’s why my biggest priority as mayor will be helping our city to economically recover following this crisis,” he continued. “My first step will be supporting the creation of 500,000 jobs for New Yorkers by the end of my first term.” 

“To speed along our recovery, it will be critical that we make investments in our city’s critical tourism industry— the hospitality industry alone provided as many as 400,000 jobs before the March shutdown. That’s why my administration will work hand-in-hand with industry partners and the Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) to help this sector recover,” Donovan said. “We are also committed to investing in the establishment of 10,000 apprenticeship placements by 2025, and establishing an NYC Job Corps which will put young people to work and create opportunities for shut-out workers.” 

“We must also invest in our small businesses,” he noted. “That’s why as Mayor I will establish the NYC Entrepreneurship Financing Fund, deploy capital to small businesses in neighborhood commercial areas, and disperse small loans to viable retail businesses to help them retool and expand as New York City emerges from the pandemic-driven recession.”

Donovan said, “I will also nurture entrepreneurship, especially among our immigrant communities, by providing technical assistance that is anchored in proven approaches, while strengthening the minority and women-owned business enterprises (MWBE) network and infrastructure.”

When asked what the most challenging aspect of his run for mayor has been so far, Donovan told TNH that “the most challenging aspect of running for mayor has been campaigning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, I have the best team in the game, many of whom worked to help elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and had to overcome the same challenges during that election.”

“I’m also encouraged because more and more folks are getting shots in their arms, including myself– I just got fully vaccinated last week,” he added. “Our campaign looks forward to doing even more in person events, in a way that puts the health and safety of voters and supporters first and foremost, and reaching voters the old fashioned way–mask to mask with a lot of big elbow bumps!” 

On what TNH readers should know about him that sets him apart from the other mayoral candidates, Donovan told TNH, “New Yorkers want change, but they also want someone with the experience to get things done and make that change a reality. I represent both. I am the only candidate with the right combination of experience; bold, comprehensive ideas; and the understanding of government at all levels needed to bring the change and support that New Yorkers need and deserve right now.”

“The reality is that no one else in the field running for Mayor has managed a $4 trillion dollar budget; no one has sat side-by-side with Dr. Fauci in the Situation Room to stop the Ebola outbreak from becoming a pandemic; no one else has ended veteran homelessness in 80 cities across the nation and reduced homelessness by 25% nationwide; and no one has anywhere near the scale of experience that I do — especially in moments of crisis,” Donovan said. 

About how readers can support his campaign, he told TNH, “I am proud to have a campaign team that celebrates and reflects the diversity we see across New York City. My campaign finance director and longtime aide, Ioanna Kefalas Niejelow is a proud Greek-American and would be happy to speak with anyone, in Greek or in English, interested in learning more about how to support the campaign. To reach Ioanna, please email ioanna@ShaunForNYC.com.”

“We are a people powered campaign, and any support we can get from your readers–big or small– will bring us one step closer to making our city a city that works for all New Yorkers,” Donovan said. “I would ask all your readers to visit shaunfornyc.com to learn more about my plans to rebuild our city, and get involved with our campaign by volunteering or donating.” 

He noted that “with under 75 days to go until Primary Day, we're counting on people like your readers to help call, text, and canvass voters so everyone in all five boroughs knows that I am The Man with the Plan for NYC. We can’t do this alone!”

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