The State of the Mayoral Race in New York

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    By Troy Closson

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    It’s Monday.

    Weather: Showers are likely both today and this evening. Temperatures will hover in the low 50s this afternoon and dip to the mid-40s tonight.

    Alternate-side parking: In effect until April 29 (Holy Thursday, Orthodox).

    Gabriela Bhaskar for The New York Times

    As New York City slowly comes back to life amid warmer weather and coronavirus vaccinations, the most consequential contest in at least two decades is heating up.

    About 10 weeks before the June 22 Democratic primary that is likely to determine the next mayor, four candidates currently make up the top tier of contenders: Andrew Yang, the former presidential candidate and the undisputed poll leader; Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president; Scott M. Stringer, the city comptroller; and Maya D. Wiley, a former counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio and a former MSNBC analyst.

    Still, the race appears fluid enough for someone to break out late, with many undecided voters only now beginning to consider their choices.

    [Read more about the candidates and how they are looking ahead in the race.]

    Here are three things to know about the contest:

    The stakes

    New York faces immense challenges on the road to recovery from the pandemic: thousands of deaths, economic devastation, a rise in shootings, and deep racial and socioeconomic inequalities.

    The next mayor will also be responsible for a 300,000-person city work force.

    The open questions

    It remains to be seen if voters want someone who represents managerial competence, ambitious ideas, enthusiasm for New York’s comeback — or the best mix of all three.

    The field includes several candidates of color, including Mr. Yang, who has worked intensely to engage Asian-American voters. Another major question is who will resonate with the largest number of Black voters in the city.

    Mr. Stringer, Ms. Wiley and Dianne Morales, a former nonprofit executive, are all also competing for the city’s most progressive voters.

    The upcoming months

    Candidates are now ramping up in-person campaigning. Many campaigns expect that the race will fully kick into gear in May, when unions will accelerate in-person pushes and a series of official debates will begin.

    Several organizations, including the Working Families Party and United Federation of Teachers, are in the midst of endorsement processes, which could help voters narrow down the field.

    The race still may evolve. Kathryn Garcia, the former sanitation commissioner, is deeply respected by some of those who know City Hall best. Raymond J. McGuire, a former Citigroup executive, and Shaun Donovan, a former federal housing secretary, have spent money on television ads and have super PACs aiding them — which could boost their ability to compete.

    From The Times

    Indian Point Is Shutting Down. That Means More Fossil Fuel.

    This Heroin-Using Professor Wants to Change How We Think About Drugs

    They Are Not Alone: U.F.O. Reports Surged in the Pandemic

    Want more news? Check out our full coverage.

    The Mini Crossword: Here is today’s puzzle.

    What we’re reading

    With New Yorkers re-emerging as the city reopens, rat complaints surged last month — higher than the same period in 2019 and 2020. [Bloomberg]

    How one of the last remaining lesbian bars in Manhattan survived the worst months of the pandemic and reopened. [Eater New York]

    A look at the new network of small free book kiosks across the city that are exclusively stocking authors of color. [Curbed]

    And finally: From food pantry to ‘mini-Costco’

    Kaya Laterman writes:

    As the sun set on a recent Saturday afternoon, Joel Matos fist-bumped and thanked the dozen or so volunteers who were leaving the outdoor food pantry he runs out of a church parking lot on the border of Sunset Park and Bay Ridge in Brooklyn.

    Then Mr. Matos, the founder and director of Holding Hands Ministries, quietly gazed at the pallets of canned goods and produce, and the mound of cardboard boxes that still needed to be cleared. Only five volunteers remained, including him and his wife.

    There’s plenty of food being distributed to the city’s hungry, about 1.6 million people, according to the Food Bank for New York City, a nonprofit that does much of the distributing. That means that smaller pantries on the receiving end are bursting at the seams with products but struggling without the infrastructure to store and share them.

    St. John’s Bread and Life, an emergency food service nonprofit in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, for example, has spent about $250,000 to increase capacity.

    At the height of the pandemic, about 40 percent of the city’s 800 or so soup kitchens and pantries closed permanently, according to Leslie Gordon, the Food Bank’s president. The places that remained open became de facto hubs, expanding their hours and receiving larger and more frequent deliveries, practically becoming “mini-Costcos” overnight, said Mariana Silfa of City Harvest, another nonprofit that distributes goods to locations across New York.

    Mr. Matos is concerned about mounting costs. “I try not to show how worried I get about the operational side of things,” he said.

    It’s Monday — help out.

    Metropolitan Diary: ‘What’s going on?’

    Dear Diary:

    It was a mundane Thursday that was melting into all the other look-alike workdays.

    I went to the bodega to get my morning coffee as usual.

    “What’s going on?” I asked the guy there.

    “Nothing,” he said. “But what’s yet to come is incredible.”

    — Julia Lansford

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