Billionaire John A. Catsimatidis, 64, officially announced his Republican bid for New York City mayor Tuesday on the steps of City Hall.
With a rags-to-riches story and deep pockets, the president, chairman and CEO of both Gristedes grocery stores and the Red Apple Group has said he will invest $1 million of his own money to get things rolling.
The lifelong New York resident refers to himself as having both Democratic and Republican tendencies and plans to focus on education, tax relief for the middle class and safer streets.
“Unlike many of my opponents who are professional politicians and precuts of the cronyism of the political clubhouse, I come to this race as an independent businessman who will offer common sense solutions to the problems that affect New York City,” Catsimatidis said.
This is not the first mayoral race that the oil tycoon contemplated jumping into.
He hired staff in 2009, but did not end up in the race against Bill Thompson and the current billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Although some have criticized the undertaking - swapping a billionaire for billionaire - as a lack of change in a city that demands transformation, he believes the people will relate to his story.
“I enter this race as a true son of New York,” Catsimatidis said.
The midtown mogul began his residency in the city in 1948, when his parents immigrated to Harlem in search of a better life when he was just six years old.
His father found work as a bus boy to support the family. He attended public schools in the city, graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School and came within eight credits of graduating from NYU.
He later started his career as a small businessman when he opened his first grocery store in Manhattan’s Upper West Side and today holds investments in hundreds of gas stations and the United Reining Company, based out of Pennsylvania.
“Like so many immigrants before and since, they came to our city with little money in their pocket and only a few words of English in their vocabulary,” Catsimatidis said. “My life has far exceeded the dreams I had as a young boy growing up on 135th Street, and now it is time to give something back to the city that has given me so much.”