Kathryn Garcia, New York City’s former sanitation chief, was running for mayor as a Democrat as of April 2021.
The Brooklyn native was raised in Park Slope and went to Stuyvesant High School in Downtown Manhattan, before earning bachelor’s degrees in economics and history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She got her start in city government at the Department of Environmental Protection in 2006.
Garcia rose through the ranks of the agency, which focuses on water and sewer systems, until becoming its chief operating officer from 2012 to 2014. After that, Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed her commissioner of the Sanitation Department.
At the head of the world’s largest sanitation agency, she oversaw 9,700 employees and the collection of at least 3.2 million tons of waste annually. During the first half of 2019, she also served as the interim chair of the New York City Housing Authority, managing the agency’s lead remediation efforts in public housing buildings.
At the same time, she also rolled out an extensive plan to reform the city’s poorly regulated commercial trash hauling industry, which de Blasio signed into law in November 2019. And, at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the mayor tasked her with setting up a massive effort to feed 1.5 million New Yorkers daily, including creating a meal delivery program, grab-and-go meals at schools, and more food pantries.
She has advocated in her campaign for converting shuttered hotels into housing and for re-thinking the city’s approach to homelessness, according to a March 2021 interview with Commercial Observer.