Despite the fact that New York City has had a Republican or Republican-turned-Independent mayor for the past 20 years, almost all of the media’s focus in the mayoral primaries has been squarely on the Democratic candidates. However, this may simply be due to the popular agreement that Republican candidate Joe Lhota has the GOP primary race locked up. This is not without good reason: Lhota is an experienced and principled leader with the right policies to keep New York City safe and prosperous, and we at Columbia University College Republicans offer him our enthusiastic endorsement.
Lhota has a long and successful record of leadership here in New York City. Under Rudy Giuliani, he served first as the city budget director and later as deputy mayor for operations, a tenure that saw him coordinating the citywide response to the 9/11 attacks. In 2011, Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed him to be chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, where his decisiveness proved critical in protecting the city’s subway system from Superstorm Sandy.
We at Columbia are privileged to have such a safe campus and local neighborhood, but that is certainly not a luxury all New Yorkers can enjoy. Still, truly great progress was made in the Giuliani and Bloomberg years towards making this city a safer place. Indeed, their firm commitment to reducing crime has led New York City to become the safest large city in America.
Lhota has made it clear that he does not see good results as a reason to change course on this front, including the New York Police Department’s tactic of stop, question and frisk. While not without controversy, Lhota understands that stop, question and frisk is a proven and necessary method that allows New York police to stop many violent crimes before they occur, albeit one that requires close oversight. We are pleased by the recent court developments that will lead to more stringent oversight of the program, and we are encouraged by Lhota’s desire to strike a reasonable balance between policing powers and individual privacy.
With respect to Bloomberg, Lhota is not simply more of the same. Unlike Mayor Bloomberg, Lhota is committed to the idea that the city government should allow city residents the freedom to buy and businesses the freedom to sell sugary drinks in whatever size cup they please. Bloomberg’s crusade against large drink sizes was an absurd and condemnable encroachment on consumer choice. Or as Lhota wisely put it, “The role of government should be to educate, not mandate.”
Though he has made reducing the size of the city government and shrinking its bloated budget a top priority, Lhota is by no means an ideologue in any sense of the word. Unlike some of his Democratic primary counterparts (most notably Public Advocate Bill de Blasio), Lhota is not running on a platform of lofty promises and partisan ideology. He is a thoroughly pragmatic leader motivated by a desire to improve the general welfare of this city, which includes working effectively as mayor with all the city’s leaders regardless of party affiliation. First and foremost, New York City needs a serious problem-solving mayor, and in this respect, Lhota is head-and-shoulders above all the other Republican and Democratic primary candidates. We wish him the best of luck in both the GOP primary and the November general election, and we encourage Columbia students to give this superb candidate a closer look.
The author is a Columbia College junior majoring in biological sciences.
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