Republican/Conservative mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis held a press conference this afternoon in Columbus Circle, calling on Mayor de Blasio to make clear his personal position on whether the statue of Christopher Columbus should be removed and condemning what she termed pay-to-play by the mayor with lobbyist and supporter James Capalino. Positing that she would only address “on-topic” questions, Malliotakis had little to say when asked about allegations by rival candidate Bo Dietl that her campaign submitted improper petitioning documents to the Board of Elections.
Declaring that “it is completely outrageous” that Mayor de Blasio will not say whether he supports removing the statue of Columbus, Malliotakis demanded that he state his position before the Democratic primary on Tuesday. Malliotakis repeated her position that the statue should remain, adding later that she would not convene the commission the mayor has announced to review “symbols of hate” on City property. She said that she could support adding a descriptive plaque near the Columbus statue and that she is open to a memorial honoring the “indigenous people” harmed and displaced by Columbus.
Malliotakis regularly offers harsh criticism of the mayor, but unlike some of the other mayoral candidates virtually always focuses on his job performance and policies. In an unusually personal and harsh written statement issued in connection with her press conference, however, Malliotakis said “I really think Bill de Blasio should go back to using his birth name of Warren Wilhelm, because he obviously doesn’t have the heart and soul of an Italian.” (She did not make that statement during the press conference.)
Malliotakis also criticized the mayor’s engagement with lobbyist James Capalino, focusing on his involvement in a project to build a 47 story tower on the grounds of the Upper East Side’s Stanley Isaacs Houses. She also attacked as “pathetic” de Blasio’s recent op-ed defending himself against pay-to-play complaints.
Here is the full press conference: