Republican mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis spoke to a crowd of NYU students at an NYU College Republicans meeting. Malliotakis gave her speech just two days after current Mayor Bill de Blasio toured his former Weinstein Residence Hall room on Thursday, Sept. 28. The two candidates will face off on Nov. 7.
Malliotakis has served as a New York state assemblywoman for the 64th District since 2013. Before that, she represented the 60th district from 2011 to 2012.
The event began at 8:30 p.m. in room 808 of the Kimmel Center for University Life. Malliotakis touched on a variety of issues, including public transit repair. Malliotakis said improving mass transit is her number one issue.
The prioritization of public transportation pleased some in the audience like CAS junior Ethan Harper. Harper said that he appreciated Malliotakis’s focus on the subway system because it is something that personally affects many NYU students on a daily basis.
“We are the best city in the world, but we have a third world transit system,” Malliotakis said.
While she maintained a positive tone throughout, the Republican nominee did not miss any opportunities to attack her opponent. At one point, Malliotakis addressed the crowd and asked them to voice their dissatisfaction with current Mayor Bill de Blasio’s spending.
“De Blasio has spent over $15 billion,” Malliotakis said. “Do you think you have received $15 billion worth of benefits in the past four years?”
One student asked Malliotakis about her stance on legalizing marijuana. Malliotakis responded by saying that while she is firmly against recreational marijuana, she does support the current medical marijuana program in NYC — a program she voted for.
“I think [marijuana] is a good alternative to the highly addictive opioids,” Malliotakis said.
Not all in attendance were satisfied with Malliotakis though. Gallatin junior Thomas Resnick said, “She seems like a good person but I disagree with her politics.” Resnick said he especially disagreed with Malliotakis call for increased disciplinary action in New York’s public schools.
Malliotakis campaign has failed to match de Blasio’s campaign funding. De Blasio received over $4.8 million in contributions compared to Malliotakis $748,602. Just hours before her NYU speech however, the Republican candidate received a financial injection — $1.5 million in matching funds from the Campaign Finance Board.
These matching funds are financed by taxpayer money. The funds are meant to level the playing field for those running against candidates with more robust funding operations like de Blasio, according to the New York City Finance Board website.
“The Program empowers more candidates to run for office, even without access to wealth; ones who join can build viable, competitive campaigns for office by relying on support from their neighborhoods,” the website said.
Despite a recent increase in campaign funding, Malliotakis has a steep hill to climb if she hopes to have a chance at a November upset. A Quinnipiac poll from the end of July had de Blasio leading the former assemblywoman by 57-22.
Still, while considered a heavy favorite, the same Quinnipiac poll has seen de Blasio’s job approval rating fall 10 points between May and July.
Email Mack DeGeurin at [email protected]