NU College Democrats hosts former NYC mayoral candidate Maya Wiley


Iris Swarthout/The Daily Northwestern

Maya Wiley talks to NU College Democrats about homelessness, censorship and candidacy Wednesday.

Erica Schmitt, Reporter

Maya Wiley, 2021 New York City mayoral candidate, answered questions from the Northwestern College Democrats over Zoom on Wednesday.

Students met in Annenberg Hall to ask Wiley about her political opinions and mayoral campaign. Despite her initial lack of name recognition, Wiley said she ran because she knew that as a civil rights lawyer her capacity to make change was limited. 

“It just enabled me to do what I cared most about doing, which is being out there and putting my feet in everybody’s streets,” Wiley said.

Wiley said she was disappointed with the leadership of the nation when former President Donald Trump was in office. She said she knew running for mayor in New York City was an “opportunity to reframe” politics nationally as its large population exemplifies America’s diversity.

“If I am going to continue to complain about the leadership we have, I can either sit on the sidelines and complain, or I can do something about it,” Wiley said.

A student asked Wiley if she has a solution to combat New York City’s homelessness. She said the congregate shelters in place across the city are dangerous and overcrowded, and haven shelters are safer and could provide on-site mental health support.

The group continued to ask questions related to Wiley’s political platform. One student said they noticed Arthur Spiegelman’s book “Maus,” a controversial Holocaust story about a Polish Jew, on Wiley’s bookshelf. They asked about her opinion on national book bans in schools.

Wiley said some white individuals feel threatened by increased representation of minority voices in books, as well as by critical race theory curricula in schools.  

“It’s an attack on books, but it’s not, really. It’s actually the attack on the changing demographics of the country and the way that is scary for some people,” Wiley said.

Wiley also talked about how recently elected Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin ran his educational platform around values that would appeal more to Democrats, such as implementing a more advanced math curriculum and improving special education programs in schools. However, according to Wiley, he also said critical race theory should be abolished to attract Republican voters.

Weinberg sophomore and NUCD Treasurer Lily Cohen said she read “Maus” and appreciated Wiley’s stance on education.

“I’m glad that she touched on why she had (‘Maus’ on the bookshelf) and the importance of continuing education,” Cohen said. 

Cohen added she’s glad Wiley acknowledged how Republican politicians are trying to push minority representation out of education.

Medill junior Ben Chasen, College Democrats public relations director, said the event was a great opportunity for the students to “pick her brain.”

Although he is not from New York, Chasen said he followed Wiley’s campaign closely.

“In terms of my personal political leanings, no one candidate in that election spoke to me more than she did,” Chasen said.

While Wiley lost the mayoral election, she said she learned a lot from the campaign process.

When asked if she was planning to run again for public office, she said she doesn’t know what is next for her career.

“I’m just looking for the opportunity to keep serving,” Wiley said. “And that’s what I would encourage all of you to do.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @eschmitt318

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