Mayor Adams taps Education Department veteran as NYC rat czar after months-long search: ‘There’s a new sheriff in town’

This former teacher plans to throw the book at New York City’s rat population.

Kathleen Corradi, an ex-Brooklyn charter school teacher who has for years led the Department of Education’s sanitation efforts, was tapped Wednesday to become the city’s first-ever rat czar — and she vowed to use “science” to curb the Big Apple’s deepening rodent crisis.

“I will bring a science and systems-based approach to reducing New York City’s rat population, with a strong focus on cutting off the food, water and shelter rats need to survive,” Corradi said at a press conference in Harlem’s St. Nicholas Park after Mayor Adams formally appointed her to the rat czar post.

“You’ll be seeing a lot of me, and a lot less rats,” she promised before referencing a local anti-legend: “Pizza rat may live in infamy, but rats and the conditions that support their thriving will no longer be tolerated in New York City — no more dirty curbs, unmanaged spaces, or brazen burrowing. There’s a new sheriff in town.”

Corradi’s new title — for which she’ll earn $155,000 annually — is formally called the citywide director of rodent mitigation.

She’ll be tasked with coordinating the Adams administration’s war on rats — a pet project priority for the mayor, who frequently lets the public know how much he despises the four-legged pests. His obsession with slaying rodents took a particularly bizarre twist earlier this year, when he had to fend off summonses for a rat infestation at his Brooklyn home.

Adams, who has been on the hunt since November ­for a candidate to take on the top pest extermination job, said his administration conducted a “nationwide search” and interviewed hundreds of applicants before settling on Corradi.

Beyond touting her dual degrees in biology and urban sustainability, Adams said Corradi is an “emotionally intelligent thinker” with a deep passion for fighting rats.

“This is almost a job that’s made for her,” he said. “As a child, she was doing petitioning to get rats out of her community.”

The appointment comes at a time that the local rat crisis is escalating, fueled by a complicated mix of factors that include New Yorkers producing more household trash due to pandemic-era work-from-home policies.

According to city data, the 311 hotline logged 9,003 rat complaints between Jan. 1 and April 1 — an average of 99 per day. That compares to an average of 93 per day over the same period last year; 74 in 2021; 58 in 2020, and 70 in 2019, the data shows.

Those data sets do not include complaints about rats in public housing complexes or on public transit.

“Rats are a quality of life issue. They’ve plagued our city for generations, and they are synonymous with chaos, uncleanliness and disorder,” said Deputy Mayor of Operations Meera Joshi, to whom Corradi will report.

Since becoming the Department of Education’s sustainability manger in 2015 and then its director of space planning in 2021, Corradi has developed the city’s “Zero Waste Schools” program and led the agency’s rodent reduction efforts, according to a biography provided by Adams’ office. On the rat front, she crafted pest mitigation plans for nearly 120 city public schools with persistent rat problems — resulting in 70% of the locations reaching their compliance goals, the biography states.

Before those roles, Corradi was an elementary teacher at the Explore Charter School in Brooklyn’s Prospect Lefferts Gardens.

Her first order of business as rat czar, Corradi said, will be working closely with the Department of Sanitation and other agencies on reining in the food supply for the vile critters.

“As anyone who’s seen the movie ‘Ratatouille’ knows, rats love the same foods humans do. That’s why every anti-rat initiative starts with making sure food-related waste gets into bins that rats can’t,” said Corradi.

The Department of Sanitation this month started enforcing a rule that requires most homeowners and businesses to not put garbage out on the curb for pickup before 8 p.m. That rule is meant to ensure trash doesn’t sit on sidewalks for too long for rats to feast on.

Some sanitation advocates have questioned how effective the delayed set-out times will be, and argued the only topnotch method for cutting off the rats’ sidewalk spread is universal containerization, whereby all trash would be stored in sealed cans.

The Department of Sanitation is in the midst of a months-long study exploring the feasibility of containerization in the city, and Adams said New Yorkers won’t “find an administration that is more serious” about the concept.

But he added that universal containerization can’t happen overnight, citing a need to develop new garbage pickup methods. “There is a process to getting this city to become the cleanest city in America, which we’re going to do,” he said.

Along with the Corradi appointment, Adams announced a $3.5 million investment in a new “Rat Mitigation Zone” that spans all of Harlem and is designed to accelerate anti-rodent efforts in the area.

Some controversy over the czar post erupted last month after it emerged that the Department of Health already has a full-time director of pest control services, Ricky Simeone.

Critics suggested it seems redundant to have both a director of rodent mitigation and a director of pest control services, especially at a time that Adams is ordering budget cuts at a variety of city agencies.

Asked about that criticism, Adams argued that Corradi’s responsibilities are distinct from Simeone’s in that she will work to coordinate the rat war across a smattering of agencies.

“You need a person that’s going to coordinate,” he said, “and that is the role she’s going to play.”