In the final hours before Election Day, underdog Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota held another tele-town hall with what he said were thousands of Democrats across the city, hoping to make up some much-needed ground against front-running Bill de Blasio.
Perhaps because it began at 1 p.m., many of the callers were self-described senior citizens who had a particular set of complaints–especially regarding Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s aggressive expansion of bike lanes and his bike share program.
“I’m a senior citizen,” began Dorothy from Manhattan. “Can you do something about Second Avenue? There’s a stack of bicycle riders–young boys–and they scare me. When I come out of the cleaners, where I live, I come out and all of a sudden a race of whole set of bicycle riders are going down the avenue.”
“As a senior–or now let’s call it ‘seasoned citizen’–the problem is now the bike lanes are unfortunately not always in appropriate places,” said another caller. “Every time I go to a meeting, it is plastered with people from the bike world who are not in the communities where they are supposed to be.”
The second caller concluded with a special request to Mr. Lhota: “I would like to see trike-shares. Tricycles. I’m entitled as much as everybody else. As the city gets older–and it is getting older–we should be taken care of.”
Mr. Lhota responded to each by saying he was a supporter of expanding bike-based commuting in New York, but that cyclists needed to obey traffic laws. As for the “trike-shares”: “I will look into that. When I become mayor, I’ll talk to the CitiBank people about that,” he said.
Mr. Lhota also fielded questions about Mr. de Blasio’s much-reported youthful support of the leftist Sandinista regime in Nicaragua.
“I understand and it was actually printed in the New York magazine that de Blasio went to Nicaragua to support a communist revolution there and went to Cuba which is known to be a communist country for his honeymoon. Why don’t I see any of that in the press or on the radio?” asked one caller.
For a period of time in the race, Mr. Lhota repeatedly hit Mr. de Blasio with “Marxist” allegations, but he was in no mood to discuss them today. “Well, it’s been in the press,” he told the caller. “The papers have talked about it, they keep talking about it, they can continue to do that,” he added, pointing to today’s communist-themed New York Post cover and insisting he’d rather discuss jobs and education.
But jobs and education weren’t what Joan from the Upper East Side wanted to hear about. Instead, she asked Mr. Lhota what he would do to close a sex shop in her neighborhood.
“Is it a movie theater or is it just–” Mr. Lhota began, catching himself and deciding he didn’t want any more details. “Nah, nevermind. Don’t worry about what it is … It shouldn’t be in the neighborhood.”
“I will look into that when I’m mayor,” he vowed.