Tech mogul sees opportunity in chaotic mayoral race

New York City mayoral candidate Jack Hidary says that the race creates an opening for him.
NYC mayoral candidate Jack Hidary says that the race creates an opening for him. Credit: Reuters

In a New York City mayoral race marked by scandal and the clear absence of a frontrunner, wealthy tech entrepreneur Jack Hidary sees an opening for another candidate — one with a sweeping vision for the city’s future.

“The message across the board is, ‘Thank God someone else is in the race,’” Hidary said in an interview.

Hidary, who casts himself as a business-friendly candidate in the mold of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said two weeks ago that he was entering the race. He has hired seasoned campaign aides, including Joe Trippi, a veteran of Democratic presidential campaigns.

People who know Hidary, a 45-year-old bachelor who lives just west of the Plaza Hotel on Central Park South, describe him as a quick-thinking ideas factory.

“He’s one of those people who’s always one step ahead of you,” said Bill Abrams, president of Trickle Up, a nonprofit organization that provides seed capital for women entrepreneurs. “He has a huge rolodex and really interesting ideas.”

Unlike Bloomberg, a billionaire businessman who as mayor pioneered changes in public health and economic development, Hidary is largely unknown in the city and, even among his admirers, there are questions about whether he has the skills needed to manage a massive, complicated city.

“He is a very creative, smart guy who is a great spokesman for the New York tech sector,” said Kathryn Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City, a business group. Asked if those skills translate into politics, Wylde said, simply, “No.”

“It’s a fine art that demands a blend of political and management skills. And Jack is untested,” she said. Still, with voters largely undecided, “anything could happen,” she said.

While in his 20s, Hidary became successful through companies he started or bought that served the tech community. Over the past 15 years, his focus has shifted to nonprofit work including microfinance.

Filling a vacuum?

This week, former Rep. Anthony Weiner fell to fourth place from first in a Quinnipiac poll, as city tabloids splashed details about a scandal involving racy online conversations with women and lewd photographs.

Weiner resigned from Congress in 2011 over similar behavior and has been attempting a political comeback in the mayoral race.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn was the frontrunner in the poll, but with less than 40 percent support. On that basis, she would find herself in a runoff for the Democratic nomination with the third-place candidate, former city comptroller Bill Thompson, and he would win.

Enter Hidary.

Hidary’s vision starts in the Ocean Parkway section of New York City’s borough of Brooklyn, where he grew up.

A descendant of Syrian Jews, Hidary’s family is well-known in the area, and he estimates 400 of his relatives live there. “There are weddings every other week,” he said. Matchmaking efforts on his behalf have been “very, very, very” intense.

Standing on a blighted stretch of Coney Island’s boardwalk, he asked why it was not lined with restaurants. Later, at the Jewish community center where he spent summers playing basketball, Hidary said he wanted 30 centers just like it around the city that would offer job training and other services.

In Bensonhurst, another Brooklyn neighborhood, he pointed to vacant storefronts and said they should be shared working spaces for entrepreneurs.

Hidary made his fortune through entrepreneurial endeavors after dropping out of Columbia University, where he was studying neuroscience and philosophy. He went to work on brain imaging at the National Institutes of Health, but left after three years to help start EarthWeb, a company dedicated to the needs of techies.

In 1998, EarthWeb went public and acquired companies that he saw as potential competitors. One of them, Dice.com, a jobs website for IT professionals, became enormously successful.

Since then, New York City has been his project.

Some of Hidary’s more audacious ideas are likely to stir controversy. He wants city schools to specialize in project-based teaching so they reduce their emphasis on standardized testing. And, he wants all teachers to be retrained so they will be able to use more creative teaching methods.

On stop-and-frisk, an issue that has polarized New York City’s voters, Hidary was largely supportive of the practice, but wants to see police officers equipped with better technology.

Bloomberg, who will end his third term at the end of this year, has defended the policy of stopping, questioning and frisking suspected wrongdoers as a crime-fighting tool, but opponents have likened it to racial profiling.

The Hidary campaign said it would be ready to make its big push in October, after the Republicans and Democrats have decided on their nominees. Hidary will run as a third party candidate.

“Politics abhors a vacuum and there’s a huge vacuum in this race,” said Trippi, a Hidary aide. “We’ve got plenty of time.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

New Apple devices include default kill switch

By Marina LopesWASHINGTON (Reuters) - New Apple Inc phones include a theft deterrent system that enables users to lock their devices and wipe them clean…

National

PHOTO: Photographer comes face-to-face with deadly crocodile

A deadly crocodile comes face-to-face with a courageous photographer, who manages to take a set of jaw-dropping pictures of the teeth-baring reptile.

Local

Brooklyn packed for annual West Indian Day Parade

Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway was packed Monday with an estimated one million people showing up on Labor Day to celebrate West Indian culture.

Local

James Michael Tyler on Gunther, Central Perk and…

We spoke with Gunther (James Michael Tyler) at the preview for new pop-up Central Perk, based on the cafe in "Friends."

Going Out

Where to eat and drink during Oktoberfest in…

Paulaner In the Bowery, this Bavarian restaurant/brewery will start the celebrations at 8 p.m. Saturday with the premiere of master brewer Andreas Heidenreich’s Oktoberfest brew.…

Going Out

Where to celebrate Oktoberfest in NYC

Germany is a land of contradictions — is there an explanation for how the same country produced lederhosen and Rammstein? But they all managed to agree…

Going Out

Things to do in NYC this weekend, Sept.…

BEHIND THE SCENES New York on Location Sept. 21, 11 a.m. Kaufman Astoria Studios 36 Street between 34 and 35 avenues, Astoria Free, www.movingimage.us Have…

Going Out

5 things to do in NYC this weekend,…

Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival Sept. 18-22, various times The Bell House, 149 Seventh St. Union Hall, 702 Union St. $10-$20, www.eugenemirmancomedyfestival.com In addition to the usual…

NFL

Eric Decker 'unlikely to play' against Bears: Source

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker's status for Monday night’s game against the Bears is in doubt after he missed practice again Wednesday.

NFL

Preston Parker, not Odell Beckham, will replace Jerrel…

Tom Coughlin noted the next man up will be unheralded veteran Preston Parker.

NFL

NFL Week 3 full schedule (kickoff time, TV)

NFL Week 3 full schedule (kickoff time, TV)

NFL

Fantasy football: Run with Knile Davis, Khiry Robinson,…

Fantasy football: Run with Knile Davis, Khiry Robinson, Donald Brown

Sex

Why don't more couples use condoms?

  Call it the “condom moment.” That’s the name the authors of a new study have given to the pivotal conversation every couple should be…

Sex

Need an idea for a first date? Here's…

Picture your idea of a nice first date. Is it dinner and a movie? A visit to an interesting museum exhibit? Instead, an expert on…

Career

Here's why the newly-crowned Miss America deleted her…

Miss America pageant winner Kira Kazantsev quietly deleted her LinkedIn profile this week after her work history came under attack by conservative critics. Many of the…

Career

Zosia Mamet explains why leaning in is not…

Zosia Mamet is living proof that even if you don't think you can get a job you're going for, you should still try. Along with…