by Rick Bell FAIA Executive Director AIA New York
Former Deputy Mayor Joe Lhota, a Republican candidate for mayor, met with members of the AIA New York Board of Directors, Committee Chairs, and colleagues from other civic and design groups at the Center for Architecture on Friday, 08.23.13. After touring the “FitNation” exhibition and Hudson Yards installation, Lhota discussed what he sees as the key issues in this election, including the economy, education, and quality of life. Describing his background in the operations of city government and as head of the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), Lhota talked about the need to diversify the economy, suggesting that he would bring “more businesses that are on the cutting edge” to New York, building upon the applied technology initiatives of the Bloomberg Administration at Cornell/Technion and NYU-Poly.
His presentation demonstrated that he was very well-versed on issues about the built environment that are of concern to AIA New York, and that he would commit resources to advance the city’s Capital Program.
He noted that as a member of the CUNY Board of Trustees for 12 years, he understands educational priorities, saying “charter schools are not enough,” and that teacher training and development are essential. Quality of life issues were discussed in economic terms as he delineated what he saw as the pressure on homeowners as well as large and small businesses. Criticizing the growth of the city’s budget as compared with the rate of inflation, Lhota outlined some of the ways that he might reduce the cost of government.
In answer to questions from AIANY President Jill N. Lerner, FAIA, and President-elect Lance Jay Brown, FAIA, Lhota stated, “Our infrastructure needs tender loving care,” and that incurring “debt for operating purposes is a mortal sin, but not so for capital construction.” He added: “We need to prioritize the capital program,” and noted that “we need to coordinate agencies to be more consistent” in a post-Sandy environment where being “a city of islands” accentuates our vulnerability.
Speaking of his appointment by Governor Andrew Cuomo as chair of the Metropolitan Transit Authority, he said that the New York City and New York State governments needed to work more closely together.
Lhota received AIANY’s Platform for the Future of the City at the meeting. He promised AIANY participation with his transition team, if elected, and understood the need for regulatory reform, including accelerated and concurrent review of projects.
What struck home for many at the table was Lhota’s accessibility and experience. Speaking of availability in our city of opportunity, he concluded his remarks by noting that as the son of a New York City police officer and grandson of a New York City firefighter – and as the first person in his family to attend college – “I want the city to be the city it’s been for me.”
Other candidates for mayor from across the political spectrum have been invited for similar frank exchanges of ideas with AIANY leaders and design industry representatives.
Event: Mayoral Candidate Conversation with Joe Lhota
Location: Center for Architecture, 08.23.13
Speakers: Joe Lhota, Former Deputy Mayor, New York City mayoral candidate
Organizers: AIA New York Chapter