Kathryn Lhota smiled warmly as she chatted with Loretta Sellitti on Wednesday at the Arrochar Friendship Club senior center on Staten Island. A less visible presence on the stump with her dad, Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota, than rival Bill de Blasio's two teenage children, who have been featured in his ads, the 22-year-old said she has been busy behind the scenes.
"You're going to need a vacation after this," Sellitti, 85, told her, referring to the end of the campaign. "And a nap," Kathryn Lhota chimed in.
Lhota, an only child who lives with her parents in Brooklyn, graduated from Georgetown University last spring with a bachelor's degree in government. Despite Democrat de Blasio's 40-point polling advantage, she told Newsday -- in what she said was her first one-on-one media interview -- that her father will surprise New York City with a victory Tuesday. Here are excerpts from that interview:
What's it been like working on the campaign?
"It's been amazing. I love it. ... getting to meet people and getting to talk to people all over the city, it's such a treat."
Has anything surprised you about this experience?
"The lack of sleep."
What do you think about your father trailing in the polls?
"I've never believed in polls ... everywhere we go, we get a really positive reaction. I think that there's going to be a big surprise on Nov. 5. I think we're going to win."
If your father is elected, what will be the most immediate change?
"There will be a sense of, 'This city is going to be safe. This city is a place where people can raise their families, go to work, have fun, have safety in their communities.'"
What issue is most important to you?
"My biggest concern is job opportunities, and being in an environment where businesses can stay."
What are your thoughts on Chiara and Dante de Blasio's role in the campaign?
"I don't have an opinion.... My parents, I told them what I'm comfortable with ... While I have not been in ads, I have been able to talk New Yorkers and really listen to what they want and hear their needs."
And Dante's famous afro?
If de Blasio is elected, will he make a good mayor?
"I think there'd be a very steep learning curve, and I don't think the city can afford to have a mayor who needs on-the-job training."
What should voters know about your father?
"He has a heart of gold ... it's rare to see a candidate who has my dad's background and my dad's experience paired with his thoughtful and caring demeanor."
What advice have you given your dad?
"Smile more. And I think he has."