Treatment & Doctors

Thoracic Surgeon Raja Flores Enters NYC Mayor’s Race

Written By:
Tim Povtak, Senior Content Writer for Asbestos.com
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Written By: Tim Povtak, Last modified: March 26, 2021

Thoracic surgeon and mesothelioma specialist Dr. Raja Flores wants to continue serving others, but in a new role as the next mayor of New York City.

“Yes, I’m serious about this. Very serious,” Flores told The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com Tuesday after another 14-hour workday and an evening surgery at Mount Sinai. “I want to take care of this city that has taken such good care of me.”

Flores, the esteemed chairman of thoracic surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital, filed his official eligibility petition last week with the New York City Board of Elections.

He listed himself as an independent, joining more than two dozen others who also have filed for what is expected to be a wide-open race in November. Current Mayor Bill de Blasio will leave office at the end of 2021 because of term limits. 

Flores Lauded for First Responder Care

Flores, who never has held public office, is recognized as one of America’s leading thoracic surgeons, particularly for his pioneering efforts in the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.

He has also been lauded for his ongoing work in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attack at the World Trade Center in 2001 that killed nearly 2,800 people.

He was a part of the immediate, around-the-clock rescue efforts that saved many of the seriously injured. He has continued to work closely with the hundreds of first responders who have developed respiratory diseases stemming from the toxic cloud that engulfed the area for weeks.

In 2017, the New York City police commissioner appointed Flores to the Society of Honorary Police Surgeons in recognition of his long-running service to so many responders, particularly the firefighters and police officers.

Becoming mayor would expand his ability to help others, the hallmark of his life and his medical career.

“As a surgeon, I can take care of people one at a time, but as mayor, I could help a much larger number of people,” he said. “I’ll use my pen instead of the knife.”

NYC Roots Foster Dedication to Service

Flores is the son of a secretary and a part-time maintenance worker. He grew up on Manhattan’s West Side in the Meatpacking District.

He found ways to thrive even in his notoriously tough neighborhood, mostly through school and the boxing ring, where he spent much of his time. He attended City College and New York University through the Higher Education Opportunity Program, which is aimed at creating equal opportunities for lower-income students.

It was there he discovered a world that opened doors to success, and eventually to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and a career that has helped him help so many others.

Inspiring People to Succeed

As mayor, Flores believes he can inspire others with his rags-to-success story, where putting others first can lift those around you.

One of his goals is to break down the barriers that divide New Yorkers today and unify a city that leaves no neighborhood behind.

“I want to inspire others to take care of your neighbors, to show them that anyone can thrive, if provided the opportunity,” he said. “You can grow up poor and succeed. I’ve lived that. We can make it work here.”

Flores talks about improving trust in the public health system, creating more affordable, safer housing, encouraging small businesses to thrive and protecting the environment. 

His expertise with asbestos diseases has not been limited to New York City. He has been an outspoken advocate of asbestos awareness, seeing up close the horror that the once unbridled use of the product caused throughout the country. He lectures on the topic both nationally and internationally.

He is still the principal investigator of an epidemiology research program focused on the type of asbestos once mined in Libby, Montana, home of America’s worst manmade environmental disaster, believing he still can help residents there.

At Mount Sinai, Flores is chairman of the Department of Thoracic Surgery, directing a staff whose goal is helping others live better lives.

“Hopefully, [in the election] I can provide an alternative to the problems we see today. If people want a real change, they have to vote that way,” he said. “I really have no other agenda than helping people.”

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