Ex-Obama housing secretary registers as mayoral candidate

Shaun Donovan also served as city’s HPD commissioner under Bloomberg

TRD New York /
Feb.February 04, 2020 09:11 AM
Shaun Donovan (Credit: Getty Images and Unsplash)

Shaun Donovan (Credit: Getty Images and Unsplash)

As the 2021 mayoral race has started to look increasingly bleak for the city’s real estate interests, a candidate with extensive housing experience is ready to enter the fray.

Former Bloomberg and Obama administration official Shaun Donovan filed paperwork Monday with the New York City Campaign Finance Board to run for an undeclared office, the New York Daily News and other publications reported. City & State reported last week that Donovan was planning to announce his candidacy for mayor soon.

Donovan served as the city’s commissioner of Housing Preservation and Development from 2004 to 2009 under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. A trained architect, he then served in two roles in the Obama administration, first as secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 2009 to 2014, then as director of the Office of Management and Budget.

“As a lifelong New Yorker, I’ve committed my life to public service and focused on building opportunity for all communities,” Donovan said in a statement, adding that he is. “actively considering how best to apply my experience on behalf of the city I love.”

As HPD boss, Donovan worked to use incentivize developers to include affordable housing in their market-rate developments, an approach that drew criticism from some advocates because builders opted not to include low-rent units. The de Blasio administration passed an affordable housing mandate that only applies in rezoned areas; that, too, has been criticized by many of the same advocates and others on the right.

Donovan would be a heavy underdog in the Democratic primary. He is not well known among New Yorkers, and a mayoral run would be the lifelong bureaucrat’s first bid for office. A year ago, he and his wife bought a four-story carriage house in Boerum Hill for $2.3 million.

The field of expected candidates in the Democratic primary includes Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and city Comptroller Scott Stringer. Johnson and Stringer are refusing donations from the real estate industry, while Adams has railed against gentrification in the city, although he does embrace development as a creator of jobs.

Developer John Catsimatidis, who ran for mayor as a Republican in 2013 but lost the Republican primary to Joe Lhota, is also reportedly mulling another run. [NYDN] — Kevin Sun


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