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. Thank you all. My name is Joe Lhota and I am running to be the next Mayor of the City of New York. I am honored that primary voters have chosen me to be on the ballot this November. I want to thank all of the voters who are watching tonight who took time out of their day to cast their ballot. This is the first step towards continuing a strong future for our city. I’m standing here tonight because of you. I want to particularly thank my wife, Tamra, and my daughter, Kathryn. No matter what I’ve faced in life, these two women have been my foundation, my source of energy and strength, and my inspiration. I wouldn’t be standing here today without them. They have been working tirelessly on this campaign and I’m so proud to have them standing with me. My parents, Jackie and Joe Lhota, are with us tonight. They instilled in me the values of hard work, integrity and perseverance. Mom and Dad, I love you. Thank you very much. Thank you to my incredible campaign team. And all of the volunteers across all five boroughs who have spent grueling days, nights and weekends helping me win. I am so energized by your dedication. There are so many of you that I would like to name, but I will thank you each individually as this night goes on. Thank you to all of my friends who have organized house parties, breakfasts and other fundraising events that have provided my campaign the resources to be successful. Ladies and gentlemen: Tonight represents a mile marker on our road to victory in November. Our journey continues - - just a lot faster. Now is the time for our Party to come together and unite for the common good. There have been times in this campaign where petty attacks and distractions have dominated the conversation. My campaign has always been about the issues that matter to New Yorkers and how the Mayor can best serve the people of this great city.
And, at the end of the day, this is what brought us to victory: issues, vision, principles and experience. And I can proudly say that we conducted a campaign with integrity, with honesty and with substance. Again, it is time to unify our Party; to strengthen it and prepare it for victory in November. I’d like John Catsimatidis and George McDonald to stand with me and help unify the party. John is a good man and a solid New Yorker. He and I agree on more than we disagree. George is a great guy and a visionary leader. He has become a true friend during this primary. I will seek the advice and counsel of these men as my campaign goes forward. New York has always been the beacon of hope for the world. America is the land of opportunity, and New York City is the place where dreams come true. New York City is the City of Opportunity. There are no limits to what we can accomplish. For my family, that is so true. I was born in the Bronx to young parents who taught me at an early age the value of hard work and perseverance. They taught me integrity - - to always tell the truth. They personally sacrificed for my education and I am forever thankful. My dad was a City cop. His father was a City fireman and my Mom’s dad was a City taxi driver. My grandmothers both worked to make ends meet, and my mother also worked so my brother and I could attend parochial school. New York City has been in my blood from the very beginning. I was the first in my family to attend college. This city has given me great opportunity and, as Mayor, I will ensure that each and every New Yorker has the same opportunities. Over the course of the next two months, New Yorkers will see two completely different visions for the future of this City. I hear an awful lot coming from the other side about the “tale of two cities” and how they want to tear down the progress that’s happened over the last twenty years.
This “tale” is nothing more than class warfare. An attempt to divide the city. It is a feeble retreat to the same old playbook that promises a perfect world, but delivers only special-interest-dominated politics. It’s this kind of thinking that has historically brought our city to the brink of bankruptcy and rampant civic decay. In this campaign, that starts tonight, I am not going to let the other side divide our city. I will campaign to unify our city. Let me tell you something: We may be five boroughs, but WE are ONE city, ONE people and the last thing we want is to send the city back to the days of economic despair, fear and hopelessness. We’re New Yorkers and we’re in this together. This city is the most diverse city in the world - - we are home to every culture and ethnicity across the planet. It’s one of the things I love most about this city. We have more in common than we have differences. We all want safe streets where we don’t have to live in fear, we all want our children to have a good education that will allow them to be competitive in the 21st Century, we all want a good-paying job that can put food on the table and a roof over our heads, we all want a strong quality of life that enables us to enjoy our city. New Yorkers are unlike any other people in the world. We have spirit, we have drive, and we are unflappable. No matter who tests us--and boy have we been tested--we never back down. The city has transformed over the last two decades. Crime is at historic lows, the economy has expanded and we have new growing emerging industries that are creating good-paying jobs. You can see this transformation in my home borough of Brooklyn. Today you can walk through Williamsburg, Fort Greene, Crown Heights – or along the beautiful Brooklyn Bridge Park – and you will see neighborhood after neighborhood transformed into great places to live, work and raise a family. This did not happen by accident. It happened because the public and private sectors came together to improve our quality of life.
To keep this transformation going, we need to keep our streets safe - - and we can do that by supporting the NYPD. I’m proud of the men and women in blue who have brought down crime almost 75% over the last twenty years. I am determined to bring it down even further. Let me be very clear about something: Handcuffing and demoralizing our police officers will have catastrophic consequences. I will support the NYPD and I believe that Stop, Question and Frisk must continue. Low crime is the first step toward encouraging businesses to invest here. But we also need to create an attractive business climate that allows for job creation. I have a plan that will cut specific taxes so that entrepreneurs can create new and emerging businesses. I will also reign in the excessive fines and fees that are strangling small businesses. And I will create a one-stop-shop for businesses dealing with the city that will cut through bureaucracy and red tape. Our city is facing a $2 billion shortfall next year and our next mayor must have the skills and independence to deliver a responsible budget that protects taxpayers, while delivering needed services. All of the city’s public employee unions are without a contract. I will sit down with the union leadership the day after I’m elected to create the groundwork for a FAIR contract. A contract that’s fair to the workers and fair to the taxpayers. My opponents have a very different take than I do on these issues. They are promising to raise taxes! And who knows what else they are promising to all of the special interests that they are romancing. This is not leadership. It is the absence of leadership. Leaders must make tough choices - choices that are necessary to protect and strengthen our city. I want to be the mayor of all New Yorkers. I want to help the middle class and those aspiring to make it there by making this city more affordable. I will be the mayor who has the back of small businesses, because they are the backbone of our economy. We must improve our schools. I believe education reform is the civil rights issue of our time, and that every child in our city deserves an equal opportunity for an excellent education.
I want expand the number of charter schools and give parents more options in their child’s education. We need high standards that are balanced with teacher training and professional development - - and that means more than simply teaching to a test. I want to enhance communication with the parents. We can and we must achieve further gains in education by building on the foundation that mayoral control has created, not by tearing it down. This election is not about Democrats or Republicans. It’s about who has the experience to lead this city in good times and in bad? Who can manage a $70 billion budget and 300,000 employees? Who can be independent? Who is free from the cancer of corruption, a tsunami of sleaze, that has become so common in our politics? Who can stand up to special interests? Who can say no when necessary? Who will not just talk the talk, but who will get results. We have a proud tradition in this city of electing strong and independent mayors, regardless of party affiliation. I am the only candidate who is ready on Day One. I will not need on-the-job training. I’ve been fortunate to serve the people of this city as deputy mayor and this state as the CEO of the MTA. Whether it was the creation of Compstat; closing Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island; getting city government back up and running after 9/11; or restoring the transit system after the worst storm in our city’s history. My leadership has been tested in good times and in bad, and New Yorkers know what they’re getting with me. I know what it takes to get the job done. I have been criticized in this campaign a few times for not always being Politically Correct. It’s true - - I’m not some slick politician. But I call it like I see it and I will ALWAYS tell New Yorkers the truth. And in this town, people appreciate it. I will be a mayor for all New Yorkers and I will have an open door with every community. Everyone who knows me knows that I pride myself on openness and communication. I want New Yorkers to participate in their government and feel like their voices are heard. I think the city needs to do a better job of communicating with the public and one of the first things I’ll do as mayor is reinstate monthly town hall meetings where the public can come and speak to me and my commissioners directly.
I’ve been criss-crossing all over this city from Staten Island to Queens to Brooklyn, the Bronx and Manhattan, listening to New Yorkers about how we can improve the city and make government work for them, not against them. I look forward to meeting as many of you as I can over the next 56 days and sharing with you my vision for our city. I said this from day one of my campaign: I want a city where we can live, where we can work, where we can have fun and where we can and want to raise our families. Our best days are yet ahead. And with the right leadership, we CAN accomplish great things. New York City will continue to be the City of Opportunity where dreams come true. Thank you all. God Bless you and God Bless the City of New York.
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