The animals’ choice for N.Y. mayor

I’m a long time removed from my native New York, but I keep an eye on it, sometimes for nostalgia, sometimes for inspiration.

Right now, I am looking at Curtis Sliwa for inspiration.

Curtis Sliwa and his cat, Hope (Photo: Courtesy Curtis Sliwa)

You may know his name. In the late ‘70s, when New York’s ticket had been punched for hell, and honest people were afraid to walk the streets or ride the subways, Curtis organized the Guardian Angels.

Known for their red berets and walking in packs, the Angels were a reassuring sight for many New Yorkers. Others felt it was Vigilante Lite.

It wasn’t always a smooth ride. In 1992, Sliwa admitted that he and the Guardian Angels had faked some subway rescues for publicity. He also admitted to falsely accusing three off-duty transit police officers of kidnapping him. 

That’s on the record. Also on the record in 1992, Sliwa was actually kidnapped and shot by two gunmen after entering a stolen taxi in Manhattan. Mafia don John Gotti’s son was tried for the attempted homicide, but three juries failed to convict him.

A Brooklyn boy from a Polish-Italian household, Curtis, now 67, made a practice of sticking his nose where it didn’t belong, some thought. Others disagreed. Curtis spent most of his life as a civic activist, and then as a conservative radio host in New York, where he now is a candidate for mayor.

The thing that caught my eye is he is running on the Animal Welfare Party ticket, pledging to turn New York into a no-kill city, meaning every healthy animal will be adopted out, none will be euthanized in the city shelter.

Given my interest in animals, I got him on the phone.

Is there actually an Animal Welfare ticket? 

Yes, he says, and he needed that. 


New York is about 8-1 Democrat over Republican, he explains, and “I need moderate Democrats and independent Democrats, and some of them will never  vote for a Republican.”  That’s one reason for the Animal Welfare line, and he’s also running as an independent. 

I’ve reported on the same political effect in Philadelphia: Some Democrats and independents will never vote for a Republican, even when, say, the Republican (Sam Katz) was a lifelong Democrat and no more conservative than the Democratic candidate, John Street. That was 2003. 

Back to Sliwa. He pledges, “No dog, no cat, no animal, will be killed in the shelter system in the city of New York. They will be adopted out.”

My interest in city animal shelters dates back to 2004, when I wrote an expose of serious mistreatment of animals and horrific conditions in the city’s shelter.

The expose led to the end of what was known as PACCA, replaced by what we know today as Philadelphia’s Animal Care and Control Team, which recently posted a 90% save rate, meaning 9 of 10 adoptable animals leave the shelter alive. The current save rate for New York City is about 80%, says Sliwa, which translates to 6,000 animals being euthanized annually. The New York shelter, he says, is facing renewed stress as people who adopted pets for company during the pandemic are turning them back in.

Animals get 72 hours to be adopted, after which they are put down.

He would end that by executive order and would find the additional space required to house the animals for longer periods by repurposing commercial buildings.

As an animal advocate, he knows shelters need people to foster animals until adoption. 

He and his wife Nancy, an attorney, live on the Upper East Side in a studio apartment with — brace yourself — 15 cats. 

I asked him to repeat that. 

He did: 15 cats in a 392-square-foot apartment.

I later checked with his sister, who handles PR for him.

Yup, 15 cats, two humans, 392 square feet.

And, yes, Sliwa’s platform is more than animal welfare. 

He is into human welfare, too, as expressed by public safety, and law and order.

Law and order. Haven’t heard those words for a while.

Will they play in New York, which twice elected a near-Marxist, Bill deBlasio, as mayor? Is the pendulum ready to swing back?

Sliwa says it is. Polls are rating public safety at the top of people’s concerns, “a reversal from a year ago,” he says.

He also has plans for education, business, property tax reform, the homeless, and addicted. Here’s his website.

He’s got to know it’s a long shot and he’s playing with his own money — he had to put his talk show on hiatus for the duration of the campaign, so he has no income.

If he loses, he goes back to radio.

If he wins, it’s Gracie Mansion, the mayor’s crib.

Think of all the cats he could get in there

8 thoughts on “The animals’ choice for N.Y. mayor”

    As we all know – or should know. Curtis Silwa, back in the ’70s, took the bull by the horns and made a huge effort to clean up New York. Of course the man upset a few people. More to the point. He stepped up and helped out the police and did more than his part to save the city that he loved.
    I wish him well. With all of the negatives right now, he could be the shinning light !
    As for the cats . I wouldn’t be so quick as to pointing out that ” I live with 15 cats AND an attorney” something doesn’t smell right .

    1. They have to change the litter box THREE TIMES a day, he says.
      I still find it hard to believe they live in a 392 square foot apartment.

      1. Stu,
        that’s the size of your living room ! Roughly 10 X 40 foot ! I think the suites at the old bible factory ( ? Walnut at the river ?) are about that size.
        Fir 15 cats, you should have the penthouse suite. Let them go out on the roof in a litter box.
        just say’n’

        1. Like the old Johnny Carson joke: “The hotel room was so small I had to go out in the hall to change my mind.”

          Elect a Marxist mayor and then defund the police. Sounds like a fun place to live.

  2. Good article Stu. Sliwa always came across as a likable guy, at least to me. It is a shame that ‘law and order’ has a stigma attached to it. Crazy times!
    I wish him the best. Very hard to completely cover up that litter box odor. I commend him and you for your work defending animals.

  3. Philadelphia, PA

    Dear Stu,

    Anyone who likes cats that much can’t be all bad as I see it. Of course, there are excesses in that direction. I once knew a woman, the wife of a Professor I knew, who simply fed any cat who came by the house. That’s a no-no. She and her husband ended up with scores and scores of cats, all over their property and all over the house –which began to have a (more than) slight odor of a known sort. So, where to draw the line?

    Interesting that Mr. Sliwa likes cats and has such a curious back story. It’s a “human interest story” as they say; and maybe it tells us something about NYC? So many people would never vote for a Republican –also in Philadelphia. True enough. But how are we to understand this? Its somewhat different in New York, and this has much to do with the presence of Wall Street.

    Back at the end of the Gilded Age (1870-1900) when big money had become all powerful in American politics, national reform, after bubbling up around the country, arose in force from NY and the Republicans. That was partly because the corrupt NYC, Tammany politicians could never quite control Wall Street and in consequence they also could not control the NY State government in Albany. Teddy Roosevelt had been a federal Civil Service Commissioner, Police Commissioner of NYC, Undersecretary of the Navy, war hero, Governor of NY and elected Vice-President with McKinley in 1900. Shortly thereafter he became (an accidental) President and that is the point at which things really started to change. He was willing to take on the big trusts–J.P. Morgan, Standard Oil, etc.

    By the way, T.R. has a monument of sorts in the city, the “Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Boulevard.” (Did you know that’s the official name?) Though McKinley has a statue (as martyr) on the South side of City Hall, “McKinley Street” (in the Northeast) is a trifling little back street.

    I noticed of late that President Biden has been speaking publicly in front of a White House Portrait of T.R. (I believe it’s the famous the Singer-Sargent portrait.) Maybe that tells us something about New York, Wall Street and the contemporary Democrats? What has become of the recently initiated federal antitrust cases? We may find out soon.

    Best of luck to Mr. Sliwa.

    H.G. Callaway

    1. Have no knowledge of TR Memorial Blvd., and interesting observation about Biden standing before portrait. Things like that are not accidents.

      1. Philadelphia, PA

        Dear Stu,

        “The Boulevard” was “officially named the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Boulevard” in 1918.

        See the article on “The Boulevard” at “The PhillyHistory Blog.”

        When first built, the boulevard ran from Broad Street into the city’s Torresdale neighborhood. In the initial planning stages, the boulevard was to be called the Torresdale Boulevard. At its completion, however, it was renamed the Northeast Boulevard. It wasn’t until it was expanded to reach Pennypack Creek in 1918 that the boulevard was given its present moniker in honor of former president Theodore Roosevelt.
        —end quotation—

        H.G. Callaway

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