Curtis Sliwa, the founder of the civilian crime-fighting troop Guardian Angels, announced his plans to run for mayor as a Republican, claiming his time on the streets makes him the perfect person to lead the five boroughs — not some career politician!
“I’ve lived in the streets, I’ve lived in the inner city, and I’ve been baptized in the subways,” said Sliwa. “I understand what people go through more so than [Scott] Stringer, [Eric] Adams, Corey Johnson, or anyone who has been rumored to be a candidate.”
The Canarsie native founded his vigilante watchdog group in 1979, enlisting unarmed volunteers to patrol the streets and subways wearing their signature red jackets — and the organization still boasts 150 local members, Sliwa claimed.
If elected to City Hall, Sliwa says his time at the helm of the Guardian Angels would help him lower crime and reinvigorate the city’s police force — which Sliwa believes is caught up in nefarious behavior.
“They’re not wearing their hats, they’re constantly clustered up, sexting or texting on their phones,” he said of today’s policemen. “We need cops in the neighborhood serving as a visual deterrent, which they’re not now.”
Sliwa says his law enforcement priorities include increasing police presence, eliminating ticket quotas, encouraging cops to patrol in small groups rather than idling in large clusters, and working to mend police-community relations.
The red-beret-wearing watchman is also be a staunch advocate for rolling back bail reform so that it doesn’t apply to violent crimes — although he’s in favor of eliminating cash bail for low-level offenses.
“I’m the only candidate who’s been locked up 77 times, so I know how the system can screw the accused,” he said, referencing his multiple arrests during his time as an unregulated vigilante. “No cash bail makes a lot of sense, but we were promised it would be for non-violent crimes.”
But lowering crime isn’t the only policy priority a potential Sliwa Administration would take on.
To remedy the city’s $3.9 billion public housing crisis, Sliwa believes that tenants of the New York City Housing Authority should be able to buy their units at subsidized rates, reducing the costs of upkeep and repairs, he claimed.
“With ownership will come more self-esteem, more pride, more involvement,” Sliwa said. “It will become a much better run operation in which the tenants have a stake in their future and in the running of the housing complexes.”
Now, the advocate enters an uphill battle to replace the city’s lame-duck chief executive Bill de Blasio — needing to win both the Republican mayoral primary in June 2021, and the general election against the likely-favored Democratic nominee the following November.
But first, Sliwa will have to overcome his own host of scandals that would surely be brought to light during a citywide political contest.
In the Guardian Angels’ early years, Sliwa faked six crimes so that the group would gain publicity – a fact he admitted and said he still regrets.
“It was wrong then, and it is wrong now,” he told the Brooklyn Paper.
Former Angels claimed that Sliwa also exaggerated the group’s membership and staged many other crimes he didn’t disclose, a 1992 New York Times article reported.
Sliwa, however, maintains that the allegations aren’t true.
“There’s no doubt there was six,” he said. “There weren’t other incidences, and I didn’t fake membership.”
In 2017, the watchmen was arrested outside City Hall while attempting to serve Bill de Blasio with court papers for an alleged infraction of election law.
Sliwa also made headlines for his love affair with Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz in 2013, when Sliwa’s ex-wife sued him for funneling money to Katz while they were still married. Sliwa and Katz dated for a few years after that, before splitting in an equally public falling out.
Meanwhile, Sliwa’s ex-wife went on to marry former Gov. David Patterson in August after the ex-pol proposed to her at a party hosted for them by grocery store billionaire John Catsimatidis, who is also considering a Republican mayoral bid.
But the founding Angel — who’s survived an assassination attempt by mob boss John “Junior” Gotti — says that he’s ready to put his grisly past behind him in City Hall, where he would work as mayor to give the power back to New Yorkers.
“I trust people. I don’t trust government,” he said. “I want to give power to the people. That’s how I’ve been successful with the Guardian Angels.”