(HARLEM) – This is already an amazing political season in New York City. It has certainly garnered national attention, particularly the mayor’s race. A key question will always be, though, what candidate best connects with voters. Another key will be how.
Old school pundits will tell you that nothing beats knocking on doors. The new school, on the other hand, favors alternative ways, and given the impact of the pandemic, social media certainly has its merits these days. A candidate in most any election in the world would be remiss to not have some type of digital outreach.
If Facebook impacted previous elections including the one featuring the nation’s first Black president whom wholeheartedly embraced the internet, one question becomes whether the new social media phenomena, Clubhouse, is the force with which to be reckoned in the June 22nd primary.
In a busy field, though, the cream rises to the top. Hence, some candidates are catching more eyeballs than others. Take, for instance, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. A top-tier candidate, he’s effectively positioned himself over 15 years of serving in elected office to finally take a shot at the mayor’s seat.
Another candidate catching eyeballs is Ray McGuire. Last night on Clubhouse, McGuire was featured on a call that warranted the attention of Gayle King, MC Hammer, and Van Jones. These are all pretty high-profile names and one can surmise some campaign contributions were netted as a result. And, so that we are clear, it’s impossible to win a major election without money. To say the least, the successful Black man from Wall Street received a definite show of support.
Maria Granville is meticulously watching the candidates. A native of Harlem, she has a keen eye on this race. Given all that Blacks have endured both locally and nationally in the light of the killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and Ahmaud Arbery near Brunswick, Georgia – let alone the right-wing terrorists’ recently attempted insurrection at the US Capitol Building in the first week of 2021, Granville is taking no shorts. She wants to know what candidates are going to do for Black people, and unapologetically so.
“We have a high-concentration of drug treatment clinics, homeless shelters and even a needle exchange within 4-square blocks,” said Granville.
To say the least, she is fed up with mayhem the flows from the scourge of heroin, coke and crack.
“Between the methadone clinics, the homeless shelters, and the needle exchange” – Granville says that ‘all hell has broke loose.’
“People are coming here for methadone, while others are coming for the needle exchange – and since bail reform was enacted – anything considered low or no bail has people walking back out. The police now are refusing to arrest heroin dealers such that the dealers don’t even hide. Then, we have heroin addicts shooting up in broad daylight. The pictures would astound you.”
She added, “Even in the 70s, we didn’t have people shooting up in public.”
So, Granville and some of her neighbors got together and formed the Greater Harlem Coalition. And part of their mission is holding officials accountable.
Her thoughts on the mayor’s race thus far? She said that Maya Wiley is “good for education and has a lot of female support.”
She said, “Dianne Morales went off on the New York Times. I can tell you she has spunk. She impressed the hell out of me. She spoke truth to power like it was crazy.”
As for Andy Yang, he does not appeal to her at all.
“When it comes to the ethnicity of the next New York City Mayor, I think he or she should be a Black or very brown man or woman.”
She added, “McGuire definitely caught my attention, especially not being born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Personally, I tend to be economic-oriented when it comes to politics. I’m sure he can do good from an economic standpoint, purge the white supremacists from the police force and all – but what are you going to do for Black people? There is too often the assumption that because one is Black that they are going to serve Black people. We spoke to Maya the other day, and I liked everything that she said. What I have concerns about is her saying the first thing we need to do is have principled conversations and form policies on those principled conversations. But there are some things that we already know need to be addressed and we just need to address them. We need to have conversations on how we are going to fix it. Eric is one of the frontrunners. Recently, on a Zoom call, the conversation was on mental health where someone is going through a mental health episode. The topic was about EMS being called out to a situation involving mental health. While the other candidates danced around it, Eric’s response was – the first thing we have to do is take care of the safety of our EMS workers. No, the first thing you take care of is not yourselves. You should come prepared to get the individual the help they need without killing them. That should be your first priority. I was not feeling that. As for everything else, they all say the same thing.”
Walter Edwards, a well-noted Harlem businessman, is an avid Adams supporter – along with several of his proteges. Edwards stated that Adams has long been a supporter of the Black business community.
As for McGuire, Edwards said, “He hasn’t come off well with the locals.” He added, “He’s been on Wall Street but not uptown and, in my estimation, lacks a relationship with the people in the community. He’s a viable Wall Street guy but there are other Blacks running who may have a better connection with the community.”
Harlem’s own Marc Polite, publisher of PoliteOnSociety.com, had a similar sentiment about McGuire. “He comes off too much like Bloomberg.”