When you log on to the campaign website for “GARCIA for NYC Mayor,” you’re immediately met with the slogan “A Leader Who Gets Things Done.” She has a reputation for getting things done, but it’s usually behind the scenes.

Now, she wants to show the public how she gets things done. This is the first time she’s run for office.

So when the AmNews decided to speak to the former Department of Sanitation Commissioner, she wanted to highlight those qualities and introduce New Yorkers to a public service lifer. Someone who knows how local government works inside and out.

“No one really sees me unless it’s snowing,” said Garcia when talking about the media. “You see me in front of cameras when a snowstorm is on its way. That’s fine. I have always felt my role was to serve the interests of the public so if they needed information and I was the best person to give it to them than I should be doing it.

“But I was perfectly happy if they didn’t want to talk,” Garcia said. “I never felt the need to be out in front unless it served a purpose.”

Garcia’s more fascinated by how things are operated more than the operation itself. It’s been a constant throughout her life.

“I love how we get things done,” she said. “You know those books and TV shows about how things work or how things are made? I watch all of those things. I might be the only one watching. There’s always a hidden process like opening up the watch and seeing all of the mechanisms.

“There’s a reason why in other cities, they elect city managers and not mayors,” continued Garcia. “The mayor is about being a cheerleader for New York City, but there’s also stuff away from the cameras you need to pay attention to.”

The former sanitation czar, Brooklyn native and mother of two has been New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s go to when he needed help. She’s led the effort to attack the lead paint issue while serving as the interim head of the New York City Housing Authority.

Garcia’s educational experiences were the product of public schools. Her elementary school (P.S. 321 in Brooklyn) and middle school (M.S. 88 in Brooklyn and high schools experiences (Stuyvesant) were part of the public sector. She even attended a public institute of higher learning (University of Wisconsin-Madison).

But she recognizes that some children, especially young Black and Brown New Yorkers, might not have the same opportunities she did due to extenuating circumstances. Housing issues can be a major roadblock to success.

With the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc on families just getting by and low-income residents being evicted from their homes, Garcia presented her housing plan to the AmNews. She wanted the people to know that she’d have their back.

“We have to turn the tide on NYCHA because it’s the cornerstone of affordable housing and low-income housing,” said Garcia. She wants to install new boilers, fix broken elevators, take away mold, hire more plumbers and use federal money from other programs, including Section 8, to fix NYCHA residencies.

Garcia also wants to create 50,000 units of affordable housing and zone more areas of the city for affordable housing construction. She’s called for an acceleration of approval for housing construction through streamlining the environmental process and permit approvals.

“I have always worked to make peoples’ lives better in New York,” Garcia said. “Housing is healing.”

The former head of sanitation also wants to build 10,000 units of supportive housing to provide permanent shelter to the city’s homeless and buy empty or underused hotels and convert them into shelters. She wants to create centers for homeless families to assist in education and job readiness.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic grinding every day operations in the city to a halt, it didn’t stop people from taking to the streets to protest against police brutality. After the police murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, activists and citizens alike took to the streets in protest and were met with force by the New York Police Department.

“The first piece is who you hire as police commissioner,” said Garcia. “They have to embrace transferring the police department from a warrior approach to a guardian (one). Every single person in the city needs to be protected no matter the color of their skin and I know that’s not true right now, but that where we have to get to.”

“You have to regularly enforce the code of conduct and do it in a way that’s fair and tough,” said Garcia. “The other piece is that we need to raise the age of recruitment to 25. Twenty-one year olds are not sure enough or emotionally mature enough. You’re asking them to make decisions that they’re not capable of. Recruitment age should be the same age you’re allowed to rent a car.

“And officers should live in the city so it isn’t an us versus them dynamic.”

Much of what Garcia’s proposing has been met with pushback from the department in the past, but she feels that she and the police union have the same goals and want the same outcomes.

“At the end of the day, [Police Benevolent Association President] Pat Lynch wants the public to have faith and trust in his members,” said Garcia.

Public trust in the police department is one thing. Public trust in City Hall to successfully address a budget shortfall is another.

This summer, de Blasio and the City Council signed off on a FY 2020-21 budget directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. There was one theme throughout the budget: making up for the $9 billion in revenue lost due to COVID-19.

According to the city, the newly-adopted budget of $88.19 billion is a 10% drop from the modified FY 2020 budget (just over $9 billion less than expected). Many of the resources in the budget are devoted to coronavirus relief. The city’s spending $800 million on personal protective equipment (PPEs) and $800 million on staffing and support for New York City Health and Hospitals. They are using $450 million for food relief efforts, a test-and-trace program, housing the homeless in city hotels and $110 million to create community clinics in Brooklyn, Queens and The Bronx. Transportation officials predicted a $15 billion drop in revenue from people staying home and not taking public transportation.

The city put forth close to $3 billion in savings via cuts to various agencies and public unions, which have been met with pushback. Whoever takes over as mayor will have a lot on their hands and the possibility of anger and disappointment at City Hall depending on what gets cut. The AmNews asked Garcia how she would address this.


“I hope the budget shortfall isn’t quite as horrific and I hope the feds will come through with something,” said Garcia. She said that the city should refinance its debt and take advantage of the zero percent interest rates. She said they would have to work with agencies on where to find savings. She wants to make sure operations do not come to a complete halt.

“We’ve gotten too big and we need to do it in a thoughtful way,” Garcia told the AmNews.

In her resignation letter to the mayor be announcing her candidacy, Garcia noted her feelings about his cuts and felt some of it went too far and weren’t thought through. “This budget crisis is incredibly severe, but I am disappointed to see so much of the work we have done over the last six years being walked back,” Garcia wrote.

The mayor’s budget included a 60% decrease in litter basket pickups, which comes at a cost of $21 million, which doesn’t include the potential savings de Blasio wants in the form of hundreds of job cuts to the sanitation department.

Garcia also wants to reinstate the composting program that involves recycling food and other yard waste. It was one of the many things de Blasio cut from the budget. “DSNY took painful reductions in the FY21 budget, with the loss of over 400 sanitation workers,” wrote Garcia. “At a time when protecting public health is of the essence, cutting basic sanitation services is unconscionable.”

Only time will tell if Garcia’s pitch to the public works. She knows the nuts and bolts of city’s operations, but there’s a difference between doing the work while being the public face and having to ask questions. Former New York city council member and public advocate Bill de Blasio knows about that. But she feels that she’s up to the challenge. She believes that she has a purpose and now, it’s time to step out in front.

When asked to sum up what residents of the five boroughs should think of her, Garcia kept it simple.

“She gets it done.”