Meet Collin Slattery: A man who wants to run for the mayor of New York City as he believes “we need more nerds in office.” He’s like any other politician, passionate about causes, eager to find solutions and make NYC a better place to live in. But unlike many other politicians, he believes the term “politician” is not one to describe him (though he’s aware that, technically, it does). He also isn’t in the race to continue running for higher offices, something which he believes typical public servants do.
Oh, and he’s 28 years young.
Slattery is originally from the Windy City, that is, Chicago. With his family, he moved to rural New Jersey. When he was ten, his father died of leukemia and his mother wanted to leave the countryside, “so what better way to leave the country than to go to the center of everything, which is NYC,” he said. Slattery then moved to NY and attended Stuyvesant High School, and calls himself “one of those nerds.” He is a fellow Brooklynite and has been living in an apartment in Crown Heights since 2010.
Now he plans to win the 110th mayoral seat in New York City.
“We’re at a unique point in history,” Slattery said referring to the election of President Donald Trump. “I kind of wanted to really establish myself from a business standpoint, and then when I was 55 or 60, try to run for office, kind of like the way Bloomberg did. Had the political world not shaken up the way it did, I probably would not be running today.”
For critics who say he’s too young and has no experience, Slattery says otherwise. He believes that millennials are needed in office because, “we’re kind of the future here. If we don’t get involved in the process, the country that we’re going to be in charge of 20 to 30 years from now is going to be a disaster.”
“I don’t think most people in general, like I don’t think de Blasio really was ready to be mayor either. I think a willingness to learn, listen to experts, and focus on what’s going to work and what’s not, and being less concerned about your own political optics, is far more important than having 30 years of being a councilman,” he said.” I do make executive decisions every single day, which is a huge component of what the mayor does. Luckily for me, making tough decisions is kind of in my wheelhouse.”
The number one thing he wants to improve is the transit system. Slattery rides the Q or B train, and for the past eight weeks, he says there have been at least ten trips taking him over 90 minutes to get to work from Crown Heights to Manhattan.
Oh my god the NYC Subway is awful!!! Morning commute an hour late thanks to stalled trains and "track work."
— Gabriel Sherman (@gabrielsherman) May 30, 2017
And that is not okay, he said. Which is why as mayor, he would like to explore the city contributing funds directly to specific capital projects for the subway. Slattery believes, the main transit issues begin with poor signaling problems.
“It causes the delays and it reduces the capacity that we can run on the system because the trains can’t run close together,” he said. “It is the major answer to the vast majority of the problems in the system.”
He then spoke about a video the MTA released that goes over the signal system. According to him, the video is astonishingly antiquated and shows “the state of current signaling including technology that’s from FDR’s administration.”
Other Brooklyn things he wants to improve on includes the quality of life and basic resources.
“You look at the (chewed up and cracked) sidewalks in a lot of neighborhoods in Brooklyn, and it’s a disaster because the city is not particularly considered about things that are going on in Brooklyn,” he said. “Parks are not as nice in Brooklyn and should be improved.”
Gentrification and developmental projects are huge concerns in the city. Slattery believes that development is not being done for affordable housing, and calls gentrification a “spreading disaster.
“The truth is, gentrification is a ripple effect of affordability,” he said. “It’s a cascading effect of people not being able to afford where they live so they move farther out. Which pushes those people out and on and on.”
One of the many (passionate) things Slattery stands for is decriminalizing fare evasions, aka jumping turnstiles. In 2015, the majority of people arrested for fare evasion were blacks and hispanics. In fact, according to an article on the NY Daily News, jumping turnstiles is one of the top charges that leads to incarceration. In 2008, San Francisco decriminalized fare evasions for adults. Kings County, Seattle decriminalized it for youths in 2015. And now starting from March, teenagers under 18 will no longer be charged or arrested for fare evasions in California.
In December of 2016, Portland State University conducted a study in where it was found that African Americans faced more bans for fare evading than whites. After the study, Portland decriminalized fare evasions except in “extreme cases or cases of chronic offenders.”
Slattery wants to do the same in New York.
“When I was young and very, very poor, there were times when I couldn’t afford the subway and I would walk nine miles home,” he said. “I know what it’s like to not afford the subway, and the city spends tons of money prosecuting these people.”
According to DNAinfo, 2,000 people were arrested for fare evasion in January. Slattery wholeheartedly believes that it needs to change.
“The vast majority of people who are jumping turnstiles are not hardened criminals,” he said. “They’re people are trying to get to a job which is far away and they can’t afford it.”
Which is why Slattery wants to introduce half fare metrocards for low income New Yorkers, and according to him, it will cost about $200 million. For those wondering if it would be a problem for the city, Slattery assures it won’t be because the city has a budget of $82 billion.
“That’s a very small item in the budget,” he said. “You can find savings in other parts of the budget, or can introduce a very small tax increase on either real ultra high end real estate or ultra high income people.”
Slattery describes himself as “a nerdy citizen who sees problems and has solutions to problems, and would like to see the solutions implemented.” Which is one of the reasons why he believes he differs from the current Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“He’s more concerned about politics and optics, and he really isn’t about doing stuff that is the right thing to do. And that’s true with almost every politician,” Slattery said about de Blasio. “If good optics results in good policy, that’s great but their ultimate goal is not good policy, and that’s one of the reasons we have such a messed up political system—doing the right thing is not the primary interest. You can look at this whole spat between the governor and the mayor over the subway system that is literally falling apart before our eyes.”
Slattery is an entrepreneur. He runs a digital marketing agency called Taikun.
“Are you familiar with the ads that follow you around the internet?” he asked. “I do that (among other things) for my clients.”
Running a company and running for NYC mayor, it makes one wonder how a young Brooklynite is able to manage.
“Sheer determination. Luck obviously plays a role, too. You meet people, you get opportunities,” he said. “I’m sure it really helps that I’m white, which is an unfortunate truth of the world we live in. But if I was African American, it probably wouldn’t have been as happy a story as it is. You bust your ass, you get a little lucky, you keep grinding. And it’s not easy.”
Does he believe he can win? Yes, and beginning June 6, he will spend his time on the streets of New York trying to get as many signatures as he can to get his name on the ballot in November.
As his favorite quote from Teddy Roosevelt’s Man in the Arena speech goes, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood…”
To find out more about the causes he believes in and for upcoming events, check out his website.