Ray McGuire says New York doesn’t need a politician for mayor


When Ray McGuire resigned as vice president of Citigroup Inc.

Last fall, he left as the first black man to hold the job in the company’s history and as one of the best negotiators in the banking industry.

He worked on mergers such as AT&T Inc.

acquisition of Time Warner Inc. for over $ 80 billion and advising some of the largest companies, including Colgate-Palmolive Co.

and ConocoPhillips.

But after four decades on Wall Street, Mr. McGuire, 64, decided to pursue a career in politics after seeing what he thought was New York City crumbling in 2020.

The Covid-19 pandemic had ravaged the city’s hospital system, and communities of color were hit hardest by the virus. Meanwhile, the murder of George Floyd, a black man, on May 25, 2020, by a Minneapolis police officer had sparked large-scale protests in New York City and across the country.

McGuire said he was frustrated that local elected officials were not doing enough. With support from the business community, he officially joined the overcrowded group of Democratic mayoral candidates in December, embracing the role of outsider and vowing to end the status quo in the city.

“I am not a politician. We need change, ”he said in an interview.

Mr. McGuire was one of the primary fundraisers of the primary, which will be the first time that ranked voting has been used in a city-wide contest. He raised more than $ 9 million in donations without participating in the city’s publicly funded matching program.

Members of Mr. McGuire’s campaign staff recently ran a telephone bank ahead of the Democratic mayor’s primary.

At the same time, he struggled to gain support. A poll released Monday showed 4% of voters had Mr. McGuire as their first choice. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is leading the race with 24% of the first-choice votes, according to the poll.

Much of Mr. McGuire’s campaign contributions have come from some of the wealthiest New Yorkers in his hometown of Manhattan, where he lives with his wife, Crystal McCrary McGuire, and their three children.

But his campaign says it appeals to a wider range of New Yorkers, including voters in outer boroughs living in neighborhoods that have suffered during the pandemic.

The low poll counts also make him want to work harder, his campaign said.

Mr McGuire, left, campaigned in the South Bronx in late May.

“The worst thing you can say to Ray McGuire is you can’t or you won’t, because now he’s determined,” campaign spokeswoman Lupe Todd-Medina said.

Mr McGuire focused his campaign on the city’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. He proposed a plan that would bring back 500,000 jobs by using city-funded grants to pay half the wages of workers in small businesses hit hard by Covid-19. On public safety, he called for greater accountability of the New York Police Department and for City Hall to play a direct role in running the service.

His opponents have portrayed him as a Wall Street candidate. Shaun Donovan, another Democratic candidate who has struggled in the polls, accused Mr McGuire during the first mayoral debate in May of having played a role in the mortgage crisis that caused a recession amid the crisis financial more than ten years ago. Mr McGuire said he was not involved in the mortgages at Citigroup.

With less than a week before the June 22 primary, Mr. McGuire toured New York City. He visited five churches across the Bronx on Sunday and on Monday he hosted a reception at Melba’s restaurant in Harlem with former New York Knicks star Charles Oakley.

Residents waited to speak with Mr. McGuire as he campaigned in the South Bronx in late May.

Last week at the Broadway-Junction subway station in East New York, Brooklyn, Mr. McGuire listened to everyone who wanted to talk to him while asking them what the city’s elected officials, including some of his opponents in the mayoral race, have done. for them.

Janice Pinnock, 27, was at the train station on her way to her job as a manager at Shake Shack in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The Far Rockaway, Queens resident said her biggest problems in New York City were gang violence and the lack of opportunities for young children. While reading Mr. McGuire’s campaign literature, she pointed to a paragraph in which he said, “I know what it’s like to fight.

“Not many people know what it is,” she said.

Mr. McGuire grew up in Dayton, Ohio, raised by his single mother and grandparents alongside two brothers. He attended boarding school in Connecticut on scholarships and attended Harvard University, where he earned his bachelor’s and then degrees in law and commerce.

He said he was one of the few black people working in corporate finance when he started in 1984. He had to fight the conscious and unconscious biases of many colleagues and bosses to move forward. Mr. McGuire said.

“I don’t owe anyone any favors,” said McGuire.

U.S. Representative Greg Meeks, a Democrat who represents parts of Queens and is the borough’s Democratic Party chairman, said in April he was backing Mr. McGuire because the city needed someone with experience in management.

“We should be looking at who has the best ability and the best resume, and has been able to accomplish almost the impossible,” Mr. Meeks said.

As he campaigned on the first day of early voting on Saturday, Mr. McGuire was greeted with cheers when he stopped in front of a barbecue outside a public housing complex in Harlem. He spoke about an issue he has raised throughout his campaign: a fair economic recovery throughout the city.

“I don’t owe anyone any favors,” he said. “No political favors. I am here for us.

Write to Katie Honan at [email protected]

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