Feb 15, 2021
Mayoral candidate Kathryn Garcia: talking trash and learning to be a ‘badass on Zoom’
The former sanitation chief discusses her devotion to process, her approach to education and policing, and growing up in pre-gentrified Park Slope
One can maybe think of worse people to run the city than someone who’s picked up its trash.
As the former city sanitation commissioner, Kathryn Garcia may not be the splashiest backstory: She has an abiding love for process and a deep well of experience. She has been something of a municipal Ms. Fix-it, called on to protect the city’s tap water while helping run the environmental protection department, trouble shoot lead paint removal for the city’s housing authority and oversee food delivery during the initial stages of the pandemic.
In fact, she’s been in city government long enough to believe she can direct the whole thing herself. So she’s running. Garcia is a Brooklyn native and a mayoral candidate in an increasingly crowded primary field.
“When you look at some of the polling out there, and you dig in to what’s important to voters, experience matters to them,” she says on this week’s episode of “Brooklyn Magazine: The Podcast.” “We want our kids in school; we want our garbage picked up; we want to feel safe in our streets. And it doesn’t feel like that’s happening,”
So, like, pick up that litter.
Garcia, who left her sanitation post in solidarity with laid-off workers and over budget cuts, also doesn’t mind talking a little trash, which should come as no surprise given her métier.
“Someone said to me recently: ‘You’re a badass,’” she says. “It’s hard to be a badass on Zoom.”
On the podcast, we discuss her career, her legacy in sanitation (which is a fun phrase), how she plans to run a race—her first ever—during a pandemic, her approach to education and policing, and growing up in a pre-gentrified Park Slope.
“Park Slope was a very different place, Brooklyn was a very different place back in the ’70s,” she says, Spaldeen in hand. “It was very much: you play out on the street. That was your village … there was actually stickball.”
Speaking of sticking: Stick around to hear how she does in a surprise pop trivia quiz on recycling … which is actually more interesting than it sounds.
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