While Uber has been waging a war against New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio this week, CEO Travis Kalanick's girlfriend Gabi Holzwarth thought she would try her hand at a more personal appeal.
On Thursday, New York’s city council will vote on a rule that could cap the number of new vehicles Uber is allowed to put on the road, a move de Blasio has supported in hopes of curbing traffic congestion that could seriously curb Uber's growth in its biggest U.S. market.
While Uber has fought aggressively (most memorably with its in-app “de Blasio” button illustrating how the bill might impact Uber wait times), Holzwarth decided to write an open letter to de Blasio on Medium, arguing that the employment opportunities Uber provides are a boon to the nation's mental health — and implying that, by denying Uber the chance to expand, de Blasio would be inflicting psychological pain on residents of the city.
Holzwarth wrote (emphasis hers):
Hello Mayor de Blasio,
My name is Gabi Holzwarth, and I, like your daughter and your father have also suffered a life of addiction and depression. Like your daughter, I was lucky enough to get treatment for my condition, and I am now proud to say that I am in recovery, but this outcome is a rare one as you very well know.
Like your father and the rest of the 14.8 millions of Americans suffering from depression, most fall down the road of addiction and never find a way out. I am not sure if you are aware, but one of the main causes of depression and addiction in our country is unemployment.
Holzwarth, who has spoken publicly about her long struggle with eating disorders, deleted the letter shortly after it was published on Tuesday. In it, she outlined for de Blasio a list of correlations between unemployment and mental health problems. Then, she made a personal appeal:
The legislation that you are proposing to cap the number of drivers on the Uber system will create unemployment for 10,000 individuals just through the end of this year. I am sure you have heard this argument countless times by now, and perhaps it has not really registered with you on a personal level yet about what you are doing to these individuals and their families. By reading this, I hope you can look at your legislative proposal one more time from a more human side. I hope you can remember the pain that depression has caused your very own family, and think about how by making this decision you are inadvertantly but surely inflicting this very pain upon them.
Uber did not respond to a request for comment, but Holzwarth said the company was not involved in her decision to post the letter. She told me that "the aim of the piece was simply to bring attention to how his decision will impact mental health via unemployment."
Holzwarth said she took the post down after she "realized there would be attacks from their party."