Maya Wiley is a part of the Hiller, PC Candidate Forum. In 2021, noted attorney Michael Hiller, founder and managing principal of the Hiller, PC law firm, interviews New York City mayoral candidates. Mayoral candidate Maya Wiley sits down with Hiller. She shares her thoughts on rezoning, stop-and-frisks, and cats vs. dogs. (Spoiler alert: she’s a cat person.)
The 2021 New York City mayoral election is Wiley’s first run for office. This follows her work as counsel for Mayor Bill de Blasio. Wiley is also a former civil rights lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. If she wins this election,Wiley will be the first Black woman to serve as mayor for The Big Apple.
Pluses toward her possible win include generous endorsement funding and veteran political operatives. Another positive is a strong campaign message: “Achieving our goal of a city where everyone can live with dignity.” This makes her a promising candidate for Democrats. However, her habit of avoiding controversial topics, may damage her campaign.
This dance around contentious issues is notable during Wiley’s interview with Hiller. The two speak extensively of housing and zoning controversy. While Hiller makes clear the public has concerns that upzoning, or the practice of changing single-family zoning codes to allow denser housing like duplexes and apartment buildings, in SoHo will result in displacement of artists and residents. Wiley is adamantly supportive of upzoning in wealthy communities.
However, she counters with claims of being protective of the arts community. She considers these a contribution to the city’s culture and the economic benefit. When Hiller proposes adding two floating members to the Board of Standards and Appeals, who belong to communities affected by zoning, Wiley hesitates to support this. She claims that some communities have stronger voices than others and doesn’t approve of creating an unfair balance.
Wiley went on to affirm New York’s affordability, homelessness, and eviction crises. She moved to address these crises by utilizing the city’s vacancies to build permanently affordable housing while continuing to make use of hotels as a system of sheltering the houseless.
Acknowledging that some low-income individuals are landlords, Wiley plans to develop a subsidy structure that would benefit them. But the biggest element of Wiley’s goal takes place at the Capitol, her hope being to work with the federal government on a better housing policy through partnerships with other cities.
Hiller outlined Mayor de Blasio’s move to lessen the hours of the New York Public Library to allow the sites to be used as event spaces for the wealthy. Wiley advocates for the library’s full eighty-hour week, reminding the public of its significance as a place for those without access to internet or shelter, especially young people.
Stop-and-Frisks and Wiley’s Progressive Politics
In discussing the practice of stop-and-frisks, Wiley was not shy about reminding those in attendance of her history as a civil rights lawyer. Wiley believes that stop-and-frisks are unconstitutional and rebukes the regular use of them. She cited a case that she oversaw during her time with the Civilian Complaint Review Board in which two victims were followed by police and, one having spat on the ground, were arrested under the pretext of a health code violation which protected the officers from being punished for the wrongful arrest. Overall, Wiley’s campaign strays toward racial justice and police reform.
Police reform is not the only way that Wiley proves her political progressiveness. She spoke of her proposed program New Deal New York, which plans to create one hundred thousand jobs with a capital construction budget. Additionally, Wiley supports the legalization of cannabis.
She emphasizes the importance of considering racial equity when legalizing cannabis. People of color, specifically Black and brown people, are disproportionately imprisoned for cannabis-related crimes. Further, the candidate hopes to grant communities of color the upsides of the economics that come with legalization of cannabis. Wiley also denied having received donations from real estate companies or lobbyists and promised to publicly disclose where her money is coming from.
Civil Rights Activist
Wiley comes from a family of civil rights activists. Her father, the late George Wiley, was founder of the National Welfare Rights Organization. Wiley makes progressive promises of police reform. Additionally, she acknowledges America’s current housing crises. She also shines a light on the ways that race continues to play an integral part in politics. Her skills and smarts give many of her fans hope. However, the tangled and scripted language of a lawyer, politician, and television personality do not fall on deaf ears.
The New York City Mayoral Primary Election will take place on June 22, 2021. For more information on the candidates, tune into the Hiller, PC Candidate Forum every Thursday at 6PM. Register on Facebook for details and Zoom links.