Progressive mayoral candidate Maya Wiley has been avoiding interviews with Jewish media outlets, but, confronted by a Hamodia reporter on the campaign trail Tuesday, said she has done outreach in the Jewish community, noting, “My partner is Jewish, and the son of a Holocaust survivor, so it is central to this campaign.”
A civil-rights attorney and former advisor to outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio, Wiley is among the most left-wing candidates in the Democratic field. She has recently seen her poll numbers rise, as the campaigns of fellow progressive candidates Scott Stringer and Dianne Morales have sputtered amid scandal.
Wiley has held private meetings with Jewish organizations including Agudath Israel, the Orthodox Union and Queens Jewish Alliance for Action, but has not responded to interview requests from Jewish outlets, including Hamodia.
Wiley’s far-left views will likely not win her much support among religious Jews.
In response to a written questionnaire from The Forward regarding government oversight over yeshiva education, Wiley said she would “ensure that investigations into schools that communities have identified as a concern are prioritized,” and “would do so in a transparent and ethical manner that includes an open discussion with the school community.” She also said she would “increase oversight” and “implement specific metrics” to ensure that yeshivas meet government regulations.
On another questionnaire from The Forward, in regard to the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, Wiley said she doesn’t support “the tactic” to boycott or sanction Israel, but “I do support all people’s First Amendment right to protest and boycott.”
Wiley’s stances in favor of defunding the police and other police reforms are also at odds with the Orthodox community, which favors law-and-order candidates. When the candidates were asked at a CBS2 debate last week whether they would disarm police, Wiley replied, “I am not prepared to make that decision in a debate.” Her campaign later said the question was “ridiculous” and that Wiley would not disarm police; Wiley herself then told the New York Post, “Of course we’re not taking guns away from police officers.”
After two campaign staffers ignored multiple recent text message requests from Hamodia for an interview, a Hamodia reporter put the question to Wiley directly at a campaign event Tuesday at Grand Army Plaza, where Wiley and City Council candidate Crystal Hudson each other in their respective races.
“We’ve reached out to six candidates to request interviews; five have given,” the reporter said. “Your campaign has not responded to a single message from us. Why is that?”
“I don’t actually schedule my interviews,” Wiley responded, “but you can speak to my team afterwards.”
As the Hamodia reporter attempted to ask a follow-up, a Wiley spokeswoman (one of those who had ignored Hamodia’s repeated texts) tried moving onto another journalist, but the Hamodia reporter insisted on the follow-up.
“I have colleagues in two other Jewish papers — one Orthodox, one secular,” the reporter asked. “They say that they have not gotten responses from you guys, either. Do you believe you can win the election without outreach to Jewish media?”
“Well first of all, we have had outreach to Jewish communities,” Wiley replied. “My partner is Jewish, and the son of a Holocaust survivor, so it is central to this campaign.”
“I’m asking about the media, not about your partner,” the reporter interjected.
“I am actually talking about the Jewish community, which I have had many conversations with, and I am honored to be supported by many,” Wiley replied.
The only endorsement Wiley has received from Jewish organizations has been from the progressive organization The Jewish Vote, a project of Jews For Racial and Economic Justice, which has given its “Mazals Awards” to progressive figures including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Tiffany Caban.
When asked following Tuesday’s event if Wiley would give Hamodia an interview, the spokeswoman who has repeatedly ignored Hamodia’s messages told the reporter he could “feel free to text” her again, that her lack of response in the past was due to her being “very busy,” and that she would be in touch with another campaign staffer (who has also ignored Hamodia’s messages) about a potential interview.
Virtually all the first-place endorsements by the Orthodox Jewish community have gone to Eric Adams or Andrew Yang, with Kathryn Garcia and Ray McGuire receiving support for lower-ranked votes, in this first mayoral election to use the new ranked-choice voting system.
Jewish community leaders on Tuesday told Hamodia they were disappointed with Wiley’s lack of engagement with community media.
“It is an outrage that a candidate for mayor of the most diverse city in the world would ignore the media of an ethnic group that makes up such a large portion of New York City,” said Pesach Osina, a member of the Far Rockaway Jewish Alliance, which has endorsed Eric Adams, Kathryn Garcia, Andrew Yang and Ray McGuire, in that order, in the ranked-choice election. “The candidates we have endorsed all engaged extensively with our community. It is sad that not all have.”
Sorolle Idels, an activist with the Queens Jewish Alliance for Action, told Hamodia she met with Wiley several months ago.
“Upon our questioning her support for Jews in New York City, she was quiet on the issue,” said Idels, whose group is supporting Yang, Garcia, Adams and McGuire, in that order. “Maya Wiley has the same thing to say each time questioned – that her partner is Jewish.”
“But when it comes to calling out anti-Jewish attacks, she’s silent,” Idels continued. “It is unfortunate but unsurprising that Wiley has refused to do interviews with Jewish media.”
Wiley spokespersons did not respond to Hamodia’s request for comment for this article.
Primary Day is June 22, and early voting has already begun.
Two polls released Monday show Adams and Garcia atop the field, followed by Wiley then Yang.