- Ray McGuire is a former Wall Street executive who is running for New York City mayor.
- McGuire wants to enact a job accelerator program that would bring back 50,000 positions at small businesses.
- As a political outsider, he says that he would bring a fresh perspective to City Hall.
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New York City may be a preeminent global financial capital, but the city runs on its small businesses.
Last August, a report by the Partnership for New York City indicated that about a third of the city’s 240,000 small businesses might remain closed when the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.
With a citywide 28-day COVID-19 positivity rate average hovering at 1.1 percent, much of the city has reopened, but there is still work to be done.
For Ray McGuire, a longtime Wall Street executive and one of the eight major Democratic candidates running in the city’s mayoral primary that will be held on June 22, steering the city’s economic recovery after the pandemic would be one of his paramount objectives as mayor.
“I want to have the greatest, most inclusive comeback in the history of New York City,” he said.
McGuire, 64, knows a thing or two about financial advancement, having grown up as the son of a single mother in Dayton, Ohio, and going on to become a top investment business leader.
After graduating from Harvard University, where he earned three degrees – a B.A. in English, as well as business and law degrees – McGuire carved out a career in investment banking, notably at Merrill Lynch. He’d go on to serve as the global co-head of mergers and acquisitions at Morgan Stanley.
McGuire became one of the highest-ranking Black executives on Wall Street when he entered a role as the head of global corporate and investment banking at Citigroup, originating and executing deals valued at over $650 billion.
Now he wants to apply his managerial experience to a city that he says has been hampered by the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio.
McGuire recently spoke with Insider about his campaign, which has focused on economic issues, affordable housing, and improving access to education throughout the city. Below are edited excerpts from that interview.
Q. You’ve touted your Comeback job accelerator program as a way to bring back economic life to the city in a big way. How would the plan work?
A. My plan is to put 50,000 jobs in small businesses to take care of half of their wages for one year, to help them retain their New York city sales tax receipts for one year, to waive all fees due for one year, to appoint a deputy mayor for small businesses, and to have that deputy mayor have “red tape” commission to cut through all the bureaucracy. There’d be a shot clock, which would put some discipline into when the city responds to applications from small businesses. I want to make this city the best place for small businesses to come.
New York City has so many pressing infrastructural needs that have developed over generations, largely due to a lack of funding. What investments would you make?
In what I call the ‘Go big, Go small, Go forward’ plan … ‘Go big’ is focused on infrastructure, including affordable housing and broadband for the 1.5 million New Yorkers who don’t have it. We’ll also invest in climate resilience for the hundred-year floods that come every five years, in places like the Rockaways [Queens] and Hunts Point [Bronx] and and Red Hook and Coney Island [Brooklyn], along with Lower Manhattan.
Several of your competitors have deep experience in government and they’re now asking voters for a huge promotion. Your business background carves out a different lane in the race. How does your experience differentiate what you would do as mayor from the other candidates?
Most of them have never run organizations that are large and complex. This is not the first time that someone could be in a leadership role, but has never led before. This is serious business. I have had a track record of leading large, complex businesses. That track record extends globally. I’ve had to be a doer, not a talker. The vast majority of them have been talkers and have never managed budgets larger than $10 million or $50 million or $100 million. [In April, Mayor de Blasio released a proposed 2022 budget of $98.6 billion.] We are at a very dangerous intersection in this city. For somebody who’s simply looking for a promotion, was termed out, or served in this failed administration, this is not the time for their first job, nor is it the time for a consolation prize.
You’re running on a change platform. What do you feel is the biggest shortcoming of Mayor de Blasio’s administration?
The biggest shortcoming is a lack of management experience, lack of judgment, and an inability to attract and retain the best talent. It’s almost like a revolving door. Look at how long people have been in their positions.
You’ve basically been campaigning throughout the pandemic. As someone who’s spoken to voters from all walks of life across the five boroughs, what is something that has really stuck out to you over the past few months?
They’re highly, highly, highly skeptical of career politicians. They show up for the photo ops, but things haven’t changed and have actually gotten worse. People want something different. The status quo hasn’t served them.