Was born in Mammola
di Vinicio Leonetti
He runs for mayor of New York City but was born in Calabria, in South of Italy, 64 years ago. At eight years old from Gioiosa Jonica he moved to Park Slope, Brooklyn. In 1982, at the urging of community residents, he ran for City Council and defeated a 21-year incumbent and republican-conservative minority leader. He won re-election four times, representing the people of southwestern Brooklyn until 1997 when he became a candidate for mayor of New York City. He is in a Democratic party.
Mister Albanese doesn't lose his roots in Calabria, and give an interview to Gazzetta del Sud.
What do you remember when you departed from Mammola with your family for New York City?
I was born in Mammola but grew up in Gioiosa Ionica. When I departed, I remember feeling emotional. I was eight years old traveling to another continent, and it was a very odd feeling. I was leaving my cousins and aunts and uncles behind. But it was also exciting!
Did your parents work in Calabria? What did they do when they arrived in New York City?
In Calabria, my father was a carpenter and did that in America, too. My mother started working as a garment worker once we moved to America.
Did you ever return to Calabria? Will you do that after the elections?
I have been back to Calabria three times to visit my family. I would love to come back, but governing New York City is a full-time job. If I win, it would be difficult to go back to Calabria until I left office.
Tell us a little bit of your family. Do you speak Italian? If so, do you also talk in Italian with your children?
I didn’t speak Italian as much as I should’ve with my children. I spoke Italian with my mother and still do sometimes. I can speak some Italian, but I regret that I didn’t do it more often.
How do you look at Italy, and Calabria, compared to the Grand Apple?
Italy is a great country blessed with great people and geography. But you can’t compare it to New York. They are totally different. New York is unique because it’s a 24 hour, multi-ethnic, multiracial city. It’s one of the most diverse places in the world. Calabria is much more relaxed while New York is frenetic.
You are running for mayor for a city which never sleeps. How come?
As an immigrant, it was the services that New York City provided - the schools, sports programs, and libraries - that helped to elevate my family from the working class to the middle class. I want to be Mayor so that I can fight for future generations to have those same opportunities. And I think I am the best qualified candidate to improve our schools and create jobs for New Yorkers.
How many residents are there in New York City, and how at how much is the budget of the community and how many employees are there?
New York City has 8.3 million residents. The municipal budget is around $70 billion, depending on the year. The city government directly employs more than 250,000 people.
How much does a City community count in a society like the American one, which does not highly estimate the public administration?
Community is very important, even in a city as large as New York. New York is also important to the entire United States, because it’s the finance capital and influences much of the country.
The Italian community in the Big Apple has any powers nowadays?
The Italian-American community is not as large as it used to be, but there are many influential Italian-Americans in New York City government. The great thing about New York is that no single community is left out of government. The government reflects the population.
Which are your major points of target in your electoral program?
My campaign is primarily focused on fixing New York City’s schools and creating living wage jobs for New Yorkers. For too long, New York’s political class has ignored the root causes of these problems to the detriment of our students and our workers.
What are your thoughts on President Obama, is he governing well?
I was one of President Obama’s earliest supporters in New York, and I think he has done a great job under some very difficult circumstances.
Do you have any idea what mafia and 'ndrangheta are?
Organized crime is never a positive force in society.
Aside from the sentimental and the folklore, do you think there would be possible to have economic exchanges in between New York City and Calabria?
Absolutely! Calabria has tremendous food and there are many opportunities for export exchanges. As Mayor, I would like to promote as a city exchanges with other cities around the world.