Mayor Bloomberg has been a vocal advocate of moving New York City toward the center of the tech world, but with the end of his third term approaching, the future of his vision is in jeopardy, especially where it concerns broadband technology. Throughout the day, Wired City will be publishing a series of interviews with several of this year’s crop of mayoral candidates, asking each where he or she stands on issues regarding broadband and how best to upgrade the city’s aging infrastructure.
A successful Greek-American businessman rooted in New York, Mr. Catsimatidis knows what it takes to run a successful enterprise, as evident by the fortunes he’s made through real estate and oil holdings as well as the Gristedes supermarket chain, which he built from the ground up. However, it remains to be seen if he can implement his vision on a citywide scale.
Wired City: What are your overall feelings about NYC’s efforts to enter the tech scene?
Mr. Catsimatidis: I have been criticized for having vision, which is laughable. Whether it is to have more police officers or to work on advancing the subways, I believe in the 21st century. The technology to make us just as fast with wireless is there. I’m the only one that has talked about the 21st century, and I’m the only one that wants a world fair with the theme of New York City in the 21st century. But tearing up streets and digging ditches is not smart; it needs to be done wirelessly and for 1/50th of the price, but we need people that are smart enough to create and get the job done.
How can we afford to fix the infrastructure of our city?
I want to raise a special bond. On this issue, I am the only one who has said that we must raise money that comes separately from the budget.
How will your prior successes impact you as mayor?
Mr. Catsimatidis: I hate to sound like I am smarter than the other candidates, but I have been a boss for 44 years. I have made mistakes along the way, but I am a leader and I create value. I want to create value for New Yorkers. I am concerned that we spent $500 million on CityTime. It was a good idea, but no one was watching it; it fell through the cracks. We also spent $2 billion on the 911 system, and it doesn’t work.
Let me ask you this: who would you trust with your kid’s trust fund? I don’t need to be glom (a Brooklynite idiom) or show off—[but] it’s simple. The city has been good to me. I want to work for the taxpayers.