Ex-Marine runs for NYC mayor vowing budget discipline, private partnerships
By Julia Marsh
A former special ops Marine is throwing his helmet into the ring for New York City mayor — saying he would bring the same discipline and resourcefulness to the job that he employed in the battlefields of Iraq.
“You have a city government spending $90 [billion] to $95 billion. … Ask yourself, ‘What are we getting from that?’ ” 42-year-old combat veteran Zach Iscol told The Post. “I think that the No. 1 job of mayor is to be accountable to people to make sure those dollars are actually servicing people in their communities.”
Iscol, a Democrat who fought in the second Battle of Fallujah, said the city has to be run more efficiently given its coronavirus-ravaged coffers and that he would partner with the private sector to fuel its economic recovery.
Iscol’s plan includes recruiting the city’s burgeoning tech community to provide “a world-class online education” to young students and reaching out to the real-estate industry to provide affordable housing in properties left vacant by COVID-19.
He added that he would bolster the city’s struggling eateries by waiving fines except for the most egregious violations, cutting fees and changing capacity regulations.
To ward off a potential second wave of the virus, Iscol said he would keep the subways closed overnight for cleanings and only bring the city’s workforce back to the office in carefully measured increments.
The married father of four said he witnessed a lack of leadership from Mayor Bill de Blasio while serving as deputy director of the Javits Medical Center during the coronavirus pandemic, although the federal Department of Defense and the state largely ran the emergency field hospital in Manhattan.
He noted that city spending has ballooned by $20 billion since de Blasio took office in 2014, and despite this year’s pared-down $88 billion budget, the Big Apple still faces a $5 billion deficit from revenue shortages caused by the pandemic.
“Bloomberg’s last budget was $67 billion. I think the city was pretty well run at $67 billion,” Iscol said.
Iscol pointed to cost efficiencies he implemented at the Headstrong Project, a donor-based nonprofit he created to provide free mental-health care for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, as an example of his fiscal management skills.
He repeatedly declined to provide fundraising figures for his group to The Post, although he said he is using his personal network to bring in donations.
His mom, Jill Iscol, has close ties to Hillary Clinton, and his dad, Ken Iscol, made a fortune as a cell-phone pioneer.
But Zach Iscol faces a well-funded and crowded Democratic mayoral field.
Another political newcomer, former Citigroup executive Ray McGuire, hauled in $1 million in contributions in just 10 days shortly after announcing his candidacy.
And there are longtime pols-turned-candidates with deep connections to devoted local voters, including frontrunners City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.