Malliotakis On SAFE Act

Republican/Conservative mayoral candidate declined to discuss the SAFE Act today, saying that she wished to wait until more is known about the Las Vegas massacre which occurred overnight.  Malliotakis voted for the SAFE Act, proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school killings, which implemented some restrictions and registration requirements on assault-style rifles and limited magazine capacity.

My question was about the SAFE Act, not the Las Vegas episode, but Malliotakis responded by focusing on Las Vegas and declining to comment as the facts were far from fully known.

We spoke during a press conference this morning in Ridgewood.

Malliotakis: Fund Smart Light Tech With Vision Zero $

GOP/Conservative mayoral candidate today proposed funding a new program to upgrade traffic signals with “Smart Light” technology by using money now allocated to the de Blasio administration’s Vision Zero program.  Malliotakis estimates that implementing Smart Lights technology citywide would cost approximately $1 billion.

I asked Malliotakis for her overall assessment of Vision Zero and which elements she would defund in order to fund her “Smart Lights” effort.  Here’s our exchange:

Malliotakis On Congestion Pricing

Republican/Conservative mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis is open to considering congestion pricing.  Malliotakis, who represents the East Shore of Staten Island in the New York State Assembly, cast congestion pricing as “in broad terms, something that needs to be looked at” and described “the Sam Schwartz plan [as] a starting point for a real conversation.”  (I understand the Sam Schwartz plan as including bridge and tunnel toll reductions in a congestion pricing system.)  Malliotakis has long been a critic of the toll prices set by the M.T.A. on the Verazzano-Narrows Bridge, and she expressly conditioned consideration of any congestion pricing plan on capping bridge and tunnel tolls.

Malliotakis was replying to my question during a press conference this morning in Ridgewood.  Malliotakis held the press conference to call for implantation of “Smart Light technology” throughout the City.  Such technology involves using a variety of sensors and artificial intelligence to actively manage traffic signals with a goal of improving traffic flow.  That’s a goal broadly shared with the various congestion pricing ideas proposed, which seek to limit Manhattan traffic congestion by charging drivers a fee to enter the busier parts of Manhattan.

Here’s our exchange:

Malliotakis Marches: Pulaski Day Edition

Republican/Conservative mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis marched in the Pulaski Day Parade Sunday, one of the few elected officials to participate.  The parade celebrates Polish-American pride, conceived to honor General Casimir Pulaski, a Polish aristocrat and American Revolutionary War hero.  Other electeds participating included Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Assembly Member Joe Lentol.  Malliotakis’ mayoral rivals Bill de Blasio, Bo Dietl and Sal Albanese did not attend.

Malliotakis received a warm welcome from a light crowd.  In an unusual circumstance Malliotakis ended up marching most of the route in a quiet envelope.  For a time there was a gap of several empty blocks both ahead and behind Malliotakis and her campaign supporters, providing an unusually parade environment.  The silence quieted the mood a bit, but it allowed easy hearing of anything shouted from the crowd.  Those shouts were a scattered but steady stream of supportive statements, drawing waves and the occasional shout back from the candidate as she moved expeditiously up Fifth Avenue.

Malliotakis On Puerto Rico & Trump Tweets

Republican/Conservative mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis urged the federal government to accelerate its response to the post-Maria crisis in Puerto Rico, but had little to say about President Trump’s multiple tweets criticizing the mayor of San Juan and Puerto Ricans’ efforts in the recovery.  Speaking just before marching in Sunday’s Pulaksi Day Parade Malliotakis offered that “I’ve always been one to say that nothing good comes out of staying on Twitter so much” when asked about the president’s tweets and spoken comments.  She did not have any direct criticism or comment on Trump’s tweets, however.

Malliotakis did urge increased and accelerated federal aid to Puerto Rico, terming it a “crisis” that requires bipartisan support in Washington.  While voicing empathy for the frustration people in Puerto Rico are experiencing in the lengthy timeframe for federal assistance, she also noted that reality is that federal efforts take time to to organize and effect.  Malliotakis recalled the post-Sandy recovery in her assembly district, noting that local officials acted well before significant federal aid arrived.

Malliotakis has previously said that her family members in Puerto Rico are safe, but she has no new information as her family has had very limited communication with those on the island.  Malliotakis said she’s considered going to Puerto Rico but, due both to the conditions and her pending election, she’s unlikely to do so before election day.

Malliotakis On Grimm

Republican mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis had little to say about fellow Staten Island Republican Michael Grimm’s return to politics Sunday.  Speaking just before marching in the Pulaski Day Parade, Malliotakis offered that “I’m focused on my own election which is five weeks away” when asked for any reaction or expression of support for either Grimm or incumbent Congressman Dan Donovan.

Grimm is a former congressman who resigned in 2014 after pleading guilty to federal tax fraud.  He held a Staten Island rally Sunday to declare his intention to seek election to his former congressional seat.  The current congressman, Dan Donovan, was elected in a 2015 special election.  Malliotakis, a member of the New York State Assembly, had sought the Republican nomination in that election but party leaders selected Donovan.  (Party nominees are selected by party leaders, not via a primary, in such special elections.)  There is speculation in Staten Island political circles that Malliotakis may be interested in running for this congressional seat, should she not win her current mayoral race.