By Frank Quinn and Bob Cooley
Ray McGuire and his two brothers didn’t have much growing up. “I never knew my father. He never acknowledged me, a sorrow I share with far too many.” His mother worked as a social worker, his grandfather in a factory during the week and as a janitor on weekends. Through them he absorbed the values of working hard.
McGuire went to Harvard, and after earning degrees in law and business began a 36-year career on Wall Street, the last 13 as head of global corporate and investment banking at Citigroup. He’s now a candidate for Mayor and recently finished first in a Crain’s poll of readers likely to vote in the Democratic mayoral primary on June 22nd.
WestView News spent time with Ray McGuire talking about his candidacy.
When George Capsis mentioned the success of Mayor de Blasio’s Pre-K initiative, McGuire responded with an education plan he calls Cradle to Career. “Pre-K is fine, but often many of our children arrive there already behind. We need to invest in affordable child care so children and their parents arrive at Pre-K ready to begin learning.” McGuire went on the detail a step by step education plan to increase graduation rates and prepare students for a job they’ve been exposed to through school, or ready to attend a 2 or 4 year college program.
On the topic of housing, contributor Roger Paradiso asked McGuire for his thoughts about Penn South and Manhattan Plaza, suggesting these are examples of the kind of subsidized housing solutions that can lift-up neighborhoods and bring communities back. McGuire concurred it was the kind of creative thinking to address the housing dilemma. “In the early 2000s we built 2.2 units of new housing for every new private sector job. Today we build .5 units for every job. The demand has so exceeded the supply that it’s become way too expensive, and those people who make New York what it is are being displaced.”
As one might expect from a Wall Street executive, McGuire has a command of details. He often cites arcane statistics to make his points, but also weaves a narrative that considers the underserved when addressing the city’s challenges. When asked if New York’s bail reform is associated with the prevalence of repeat offenders as claimed by the police, McGuire talks about root causes. “It starts with education. 80% of those on Rikers Island don’t have a GED, and one third are reading at the 5th grade level. These are offenders that come from disadvantaged backgrounds and have no job or financial literacy. It’s not an excuse, it’s an explanation, and we need to address systemic problems before we reach conclusions about bail reform.”
McGuire says he’s fluent in the “language of the streets and the suites,” and contributor Roberta Russell points out she saw this quality in McGuire when doing her own research in preparation for the interview.