Andrew Yang, the businessman who came to national prominence during his upstart bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, formally announced the launch of his New York City mayoral campaign on Wednesday night.
Yang, 46, headlines a field of candidates touting their plans to reopen the city following a coronavirus pandemic that brought local business to a near-halt in recent months. The former entrepreneur outlined several platform goals in a video message announcing his bid, including the establishment of a universal basic income for New York City residents.
“Seeing my city the way it is now breaks my heart,” Yang said. “We need to realize Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of a guaranteed minimum income and get cash into the hands of people who need it most. We’ll bring New York City into the 21st century by getting everyone high-speed internet so our kids can learn. We’ll take back control of our subway.”
Yang was considered an early frontrunner in the New York City mayoral race when he filed paperwork last month to run for the office. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, has faced widespread criticism in recent months over his handling of the pandemic. He is in his second term and is barred from seeking a third.
The founder of nonprofit Venture for America, Yang outperformed expectations during a presidential campaign in which he called for the implementation of the “Freedom Dividend,” or universal basic income of $1,000 per month, as a check against job losses related to automation. He dropped out of the race last February as President-elect Joe Biden gained a clear lead.
“I’m running for mayor for my two boys, for you and for every New Yorker,” Yang said. “Let’s fight for a future New York City that we can all be proud of.”
In the days before he announced his mayoral bid, Yang faced mounting scrutiny from critics who questioned the strength of his ties to New York City. That criticism intensified after Yang confirmed that he relocated from his New York City apartment to his family home in New Paltz during the pandemic.
Yang prompted a social media uproar after he told the New York Times that he had decided to relocate because of cramped conditions in his two-bedroom apartment. Detractors pointed out that New York City residents have contended with the same scenario for months, often in apartments smaller than his.
“Every New York parent has struggled with educating our children in a time of COVID. I’ve been proud to live, work and raise my kids in this city for 25 years,” Yang said in response to the criticism. “After COVID shut down our public schools, we took our two kids, including my autistic son, to upstate New York to help him adapt to our new normal.”
Other early mayoral candidates including New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.