Mayor Bloomberg discusses campaign, city issues

| pdavis@queenscourier.com |

During an exclusive sit-down interview with The Queens Courier on Friday, May 29, Mayor Michael Bloomberg addressed a number of topics including his three main priorities for a potential third term as mayor – continuing improvements in education, reducing crime and creating jobs.

“The signature issue has always been education,” Bloomberg said over an English muffin and cup of coffee at the Jackson Hole Diner on Astoria Boulevard.

Bloomberg cited the improvement in both math and reading scores for city public school students, and he said he was feeling better that Albany leaders would reach an agreement to extend mayoral control.

The City Council paved the way for Bloomberg to seek a third term as Mayor of New York City by passing a term limits extension law in October of 2008 – weeks after Bloomberg told the public he believed he was the best person to lead the city during the difficult economic challenges.

Bloomberg, a former Democrat and Republican who is now a registered Independent, will run on the Republican Party line for mayor in 2009. His biggest challenge will likely come from City Comptroller Bill Thompson, who is now the presumptive Democratic nominee after Congressmember Anthony Weiner bowed out of the race last week.

Although some critics have said that a third term is one too many, and he could face increased difficulty in getting things accomplished if elected again, Bloomberg is not concerned.

“I always thought my second term was my last term, and I think history will show we did a lot more in the second term than in the first,” Bloomberg said.

However, Bloomberg acknowledged that during a third term changes must occur – from the simple ones like changing the time of meetings from the morning to the afternoon, to the more difficult ones of changing or reassigning commissioners.

Yet, one of his third-term priorities that is consistent with the first two is continuing to keep the streets safe.

“This year we should have another record-low crime year,” Bloomberg said.

Through May 10 of this year, crime throughout the city was down by 12.3 percent compared to this time last year, with the murder rate dropping by nearly 22 percent from last year, which was the third lowest year of record for the city.

In addition to reducing crime, Bloomberg spoke about plans to place 20,000 New Yorkers in jobs this year through the help of programs like the Workforce One Career Centers throughout the city.

During the interview, Bloomberg did speak about this year’s budget and the reality of “spreading around the pain” when it came to cuts.

“There is no program that I know that will really be decimated, really cut,” Bloomberg said. “We will get through this.”

In terms of economic development projects, Bloomberg said that he wasn’t sure how quickly people were going to rush in and build at Willets Point, but he was confident about the project’s future.

“Willets Point – the battle is over; nobody’s going to stop that,” Bloomberg said.

Looking ahead, Bloomberg spoke more cautiously about the prospects for 2011 when he said the state’s fiscal crisis could make things even more difficult for the city. However, he said businesses are not moving away from New York, and he remained optimistic about the long-term prospects for New York.

“The most important thing for our future is that people want to come here,” Bloomberg said.