“I moved to New York City 25 years ago. I came of age, fell in love, and became a father here. When I see our city is so painful, my heart breaks,” he tweeted Wednesday night along with a two-minute Video.
“Let’s fight together for a future New York City that we can be proud of. Visit us at YangforNY.com,” he added.
Yang suspended his presidential campaign last February and spent some time as a CNN staff member after he left the election campaign. By the time he ended that campaign, Yang said he had no plans to run for mayor in New York, where he has lived for nearly 25 years.
He came under fire this week after defending his decision to spend time during the height of the pandemic when hundreds of New Yorkers died of Covid-19 every day, outside the city he plans to lead. “Can you imagine trying?” Having two kids in a virtual school in a two bedroom apartment and then trying to work yourself? “Yang told the New York Times in a story published Monday that it drew the wrath of parents who did just that for much of 2020.
Yang joins a field of mayor hopefuls trying to take on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s two terms – including Shaun Donovan, former US Secretary of State for Housing and Urban Development, President of Brooklyn and former New York City Police Department captain Eric Adams, former Citigroup CEO Ray McGuire, New York Comptroller Scott Stringer, and Maya Wiley, former de Blasio attorney.
The contenders are vying to take over a pandemic-stricken city where unemployment is skyrocketing, poverty and hunger soar, and a budget crisis on the horizon could force the next mayor to cut deeply in public sector jobs and services.
Largely unknown outside the technical circles prior to the 2020 primary, Yang won the affection – if not always the votes – of the Democrats, who valued his happy warrior personality on the debates and in the election campaign. And he was backed by supporters known as the “Yang Gang” who helped him raise $ 40 million over the course of his run – including a surprising $ 16.5 million as the race turned out in the last three Months of 2019.
The former tech executive pushed the idea of a universal basic income into mainstream political conversation during his presidential election. After leaving the race, he formed Humanity Forward, a nonprofit, with which he tested some of the ideas that animated his campaign. In March, he began giving hundreds of working families in New York $ 1,000 a month to determine the effectiveness of such a program. The organization also endorsed voting candidates across the country.
This story has been updated with background information.
CNN’s Sonia Moghe, Devan Cole, Gregory Krieg, Dan Merica and Poppy Harlow contributed to this report.