WINDSOR TERRACE — Retired New York police officer Bill Pepitone wished he could have been on the stage Wednesday in the first broadcast debate for Republican candidates in the 2021 election for mayor.
Pepitone, a Brooklyn native, and registered Republican, will be on the ballot for mayor on election day, Nov. 2 representing the Conservative Party of New York State. He has no opponent in his party’s primary.
Pepitone is from Gravesend, Brooklyn where his family belonged to Our Lady of Grace Parish. He became a New York cop in 1989 and went on to become the NYPD Safety Service Coordinator and retired in 2009. One of his three daughters was diagnosed with autism, so the family moved to Bucks County, Penn.
He returned to New York City in 2019. Now, after a divorce, he is settled on Staten Island where he plans to attend the Church of St. Clare. However, his time in Pennsylvania politics inspired thoughts of becoming active in New York. Then came last summer’s demonstrations over the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“I was watching television and watching the riots unfold in the city — the violence and the arson, and the looting, and police officers being attacked,” he said. “And there was just no response from our elected officials. And it really, really angered me.”
Pepitone decided then to campaign for mayor. But his platform includes much more than restoring NYPD morale. “Here in New York City, we have a multitude of issues,” he said, “and I have spoken out on almost each and every one.”
An economic rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic depends on tax breaks or incentives, Pepitone said.
“It’s not the perfect scenario,” he added. “But it’s a necessary one right now with a budget gap and with so many businesses leaving the city. We have to reopen; we have to reopen safely.
Pepitone also said he would push back against state mandates that create more harm than good.
He said that he followed reports about how the Diocese of Brooklyn last year sued Gov. Cuomo over renewed lockdowns in coronavirus “hot zones,” even though strict safety precautions were implemented at churches. The diocese, however, prevailed at the U.S. Supreme Court to let people back in churches to ensure their religious freedom.
“I was against that 100 percent,” Pepitone said of the Cuomo mandate. “I understand how dangerous (the pandemic) is. I also understand freedom of religion is one of our basic rights.”