By Anastasia Kaliabakos
As a native New Yorker born in 2002, I have been witness to the leadership of two mayors: Michael Bloomberg and Bill de Blasio. I remember that, in middle school, one of my teachers facilitated a debate about Mayor Bloomberg’s attempt to ban the Big Gulp, which was one of the many components in his public health campaign. For those who are not familiar with the situation, this “ban” on Big Gulps would have prohibited some businesses, like restaurants or delis, from selling sodas and sugary beverages larger than 16 ounces in size. My classmates and I were required to formulate arguments for and against the possible ban (I can’t remember which side I was on, actually, but I do recall winning the debate). Ultimately, the ban was ruled as unconstitutional, allowing New Yorkers to continue buying soft drinks larger than 16oz.
Sometimes, I wish that I could travel back in time to when a debate over the size of sodas was NYC’s biggest concern. During the Covid-19 pandemic, and even before that, New York City’s landscape changed. Crime has increased overall: although murders have decreased over the past year or so, the NYPD has made 361 gun arrests in 2021 as of June, which is a 99.4% increase in comparison to the same time period in 2020. Overall crime rose 3.1%, grand larceny 32.3%, and robbery 16% (These statistics come from the official NYPD website, www1.nyc.gov/site/nypd/news/p0706a/nypd-citywide-crime-statistics-june-2021). Why is this happening in New York City, known as “The Capital of the World”? And what can be done about it?
I have been following the NYC mayoral race for the past few months, and, although he did not make it past the Democratic Primary, I did like Andrew Yang’s campaign platform. His positive voice, enthusiasm, and innovative ideas were refreshing and exciting. Another candidate has also caught my eye, however: Curtis Sliwa. Sliwa is a native New Yorker, born in Canarsie, Brooklyn, in 1954, and has led a whirlwind of a life.
As a teenager, Sliwa was a delivery boy for the New York Daily News. Although this may seem like a pretty standard job for a young man to make some money, Sliwa’s experience was unique in many ways. At age 14, he opened the first recycling center in Brooklyn. Just a year later, he saved a family from a burning building while on his paper route. Because of this event, he was named Newspaper Boy of the year by the Daily News and also was invited to the White House for his heroism. October 16, 1971, became the first “National Newspaperboy Day” thanks to him.
From that point on, it seems as if Sliwa had a new main goal in his life: keeping New Yorkers safe. His first effort was called the “Rock Brigade,” which was meant to “clean up a neglected New York City.” As a night manager at McDonald’s, he got a group of coworkers together to take brooms to the street, literally helping to “clean up” the neighborhood. Next, he established the “Magnificent 13,” a group dedicated to patrolling the subways to minimize crime. Although they would not carry weapons, the group’s presence alone would “act as a deterrent to illegal activity.” In 1979, the Magnificent 13 grew so much in popularity and renown that Sliwa decided to establish “The Guardian Angels.” The Guardian Angels, which still exists today, is a way for volunteers to help keep New York City safe. Initially, members would undergo thorough training to learn self-defense and the proper techniques to intervene in various types of situations. Unarmed, like the Magnificent 13, the volunteers patrol both NYC streets and subways on the lookout for trouble. This organization came out of a time of need, and Sliwa provided a distinguishing solution for the problems of his time. Given the fact that crime in New York City seems to be on the rise, a resurgence in this type of movement—one of delivering safety and security to the citizens of New York City—may be what is needed from a mayoral candidate’s resume.
Sliwa’s campaign platform addresses a variety of issues. He is devoted to making public safety in the city and subways a priority, as I mentioned before, but also has some very interesting and innovative ideas in his platform as well. He lists efforts to introduce property tax reform and make it fairer, more efficient, and transparent for all New Yorkers; abolish obstacles for small business to succeed in the competitive bustle of the city; provide all children access to a high-quality education and establish more charter and religious schools; expand the use of cryptocurrency city-wide; protect the lives of animals in shelters; and much more. After doing a lot of research about Sliwa, his history, and his goals for his role as New York City’s mayor, I believe that he is a unique candidate with the potential to resolve many of the problems the city is facing right now.
If I have made you at all interested in Curtis Sliwa, his campaign page and his ideas may be found here: sliwaforny.com/ No matter who you choose to support, please don’t forget to make your voice heard this November and vote!
Anastasia (Stacey) Kaliabakos is a graduate of the Brearley School and is currently a Dana Scholar at the College of the Holy Cross majoring in Classics and Philosophy. She is a features editor for Holy Cross’ newspaper, The Spire, associate editor of the Parnassus Classical Journal, and an avid matcha latte consumer. Anastasia has contributed to WestView News since 2018.