Two Republican mayoral candidates hoping to replace Mayor Bill de Blasio come November made their pitches to a crowd of over 50 voters, community leaders and party supporters at a Wednesday, March 1 forum at the Dyker Beach Golf Course.
The candidates – Reverend Michael Faulkner and real estate executive Paul Massey – were given an hour each to introduce themselves and field questions from both voters and the media.
The first to speak was Massey, co-founder of one of the nation’s largest privately owned commercial property brokerage firms, Massey Knakal, which the candidate said first opened in a small office on Bay Ridge’s 86th Street in 1988, and has since built a real estate business with operations across the five boroughs.
Massey – a Boston boy who later moved to Brooklyn and bartended for a living before starting his own small business and becoming a successful entrepreneur – joked of being part of a “divided household” as his wife – whom he met in a Bay Ridge bar – is an avid Hillary Clinton supporter. Though, standing strong in his support of President Donald Trump – whom he admitted he does not always agree with – Massey contended that being a part of a bipartisan family has helped prepare him to be the mayor of New York City.
As a real estate executive, Massey said he has learned a lot about strategy, something, he says, New York City currently lacks.
“We’ve got no strategy as to why we’re the greatest city in the world,” he said, “and we’ve got no vision as to where we’re going to be in five years and that’s very unsettling to people. That’s the lack of leadership that I see.”
If elected, Massey promised to focus on issues as vast as homelessness and mental health and as local as traffic and trash pickup – or, as the candidate called it, basic services that are “just not happening” citywide.
A pro-choice supporter of public schools, Massey also vowed to build a better relationship with police (he supports stop-and-frisk and “the city doing what it needs to do,” but was adamant in saying that he rejects the idea of racial profiling) as well as adding jobs, supporting small businesses as well as big infrastructure projects and helping to produce a job-ready population coming out of school with more support for teachers and schools and – perhaps most important to Massey – after-school programs.
“I think it’s important to be a united party,” said Massey, stressing that his campaign has already raised 60 percent more funds than the current mayor.
Next up was Faulkner – a new Brooklynite and longtime community leader who currently serves as the pastor of the New Horizon Church in Manhattan – who began by declaring that he “will” in fact be the next mayor of the City of New York.
Faulkner, whose ministry has included being an avid advocate for the poor and homeless (in 1988, he traded in his career to run a soup kitchen in Times Square), was also a member of the Task Force on Police Community Relations, which he was appointed to by former Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
“Seeing the direction that the city is going in turns my stomach,” he said, “and that’s why I am running. I want to help fix our city.”
Like Massey, he vowed to strengthen the city’s relationship with the New York City Police Department, as well as after-school programs for city kids.
For now, the candidate said, he is focusing heavily on four things: crime, ethics, jobs and schools. He also promised to focus on affordable housing and easing taxes for the middle class. He also supports alternatives to the public school system such as charter schools, which he hopes to lift the cap on.
“We can and must do better,” said the candidate, who opposes abortion.
Faulkner, who also served as a defensive lineman for the New York Jets football team during its 1981-1982 NFL season, later quoted President Donald Trump – a president, he said, he stands behind 100 percent – in saying, “The time for small thinking is over,” before that posing the question, “Can you imagine how things will turn nationally if we elect, when we elect, as we elect, a black, conservative, Republican mayor?”
In response to questions from the crowd, both candidates vowed to take a stand against illegal conversions, an issue that heavily plagues Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst.
The forum was hosted by Brooklyn Republican Party Chairperson Ted Ghorra. Among those in attendance were Brooklyn Republican Party Vice Chair Brian Doherty, Conservative Party of New York State Chair Mike Long and Republican City Council candidates Bob Capano, John Quaglione and Liam McCabe.