New York City mayoral candidate and business executive Ray McGuire spoke with Upper School students on his non-traditional campaign, education and the economy. The discussion is a part of a series designed to provide opportunities for students to engage in conversation with candidates seeking local office in upcoming elections.
Civics Club member Annie K. introduced McGuire, noting his education at Harvard and his 13 years as the global corporate and investment banking executive at Citigroup.
McGuire spoke with students at length about what makes him an ideal candidate—citing his non-political background as a major component: “I came into a world of corporate finance with one or two people who looked like me. I was able to perform, get to a high level in the world of business. In doing so I had to manage budgets and negotiate sizable transactions, advise CEOs on how to grow, create jobs and how to manage themselves strategically. I’m in nobody’s pocket, I’m not a politician and I’m not looking for a promotion,” he said.
Kate D. asked the candidate to discuss his “McGuire Comeback Plan,” which promises to help rebuild and strengthen the city as it struggles with the economic devastations caused by the pandemic. The plan is a central piece of McGuire’s run. “It’s designed to address what we have today of more than 13% unemployment,” McGuire responded. “In many of our boroughs, it’s double or triple that. If we have no jobs, we have no city.”
The plan includes bringing back 50,000 small business jobs by subsidizing half of a worker’s salary for one year. It also focuses on the tech industry, where he feels the city could spend its money best by investing in its residents. “I’ll put fifty million dollars into workforce training,” he said. “If you take people, train them to become software engineers, they come back and make more money.”
Another pillar of McGuire’s platform is to expand and improve the city’s educational system. McGuire credits his own success to a good education, something he believes all New York City children should have access to. “I want to start at year zero—making sure we have affordable childcare and we have appropriate compensation for caregivers,” he told students. “By the end of third grade, every child in NYC should read. Educators have told us that by the end of third grade children are done learning to read and they’ve begun reading to learn. We fail too often in making sure they can first read.”
A proposed solution to this, he shared with the Civics Club, would be extending instruction for any New York City student that needs it. “I want to make sure we have summer school available to all students,” he shared. Opening schools for summer to full-time, in-person instruction, he explained, would help compensate for lost in-person learning during the pandemic, and reduce the burden of summer childcare for families.
When asked by Bea H. how his campaign has been affected by this year’s ranked-choice voting, McGuire reiterated his non-traditional status as a candidate: “I’m not running what you call a traditional campaign—the biggest thing for me is to get my name out there. What we need to do is continue to inform the voting population, making sure they understand context and that ranked-choice voting represents their votes.”
Bea H. went on to ask how students at Spence can pay it forward. “You have a responsibility to lead,” McGuire told them. “You are the future. It’s about you and how you involve yourselves in the democratic process. You’ve got some of the most brilliant people here. Get involved.”
The series will conclude with mayoral candidate Kathryn Garcia, former Commissioner for the New York City Sanitation Department. The Spence Development Office has been instrumental in inviting all mayoral candidates to speak, and collaborating with the Civics Club in arranging the series.