NEW YORK— On Tuesday, New Yorkers overwhelmingly voted to elect Bill de Blasio, an unabashed liberal, to be the Big Apple's next mayor. A sampling of New Yorkers shared their views of Mayor-elect de Blasio, who will be the first Democrat to hold the office in two decades.
In what many analysts say was a rejection of the conservative style and fiscal policies of outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a solid 70 percent of New York City voters chose Democrat Bill de Blasio to lead the city for the next four years.
Alec, a 30-something Manhattan resident, supported de Blasio, but is uncertain about the possibility of real change. "I am pretty glad that we are finally going to have someone who is not a corporate overlord. But I highly doubt that he is going to be all that different because how much power does he have opposed to the city council, the real estate developers, etcetera? But I am glad that we have a nominally progressive guy. He seems cool."
De Blasio supporter Celia Reiss liked some of Bloomberg’s policies, but not what she views as his dictatorial style. “… but de Blasio, I think, is going to be good for the basic heart of New York - hopefully stopping the stop and searches [most of minorities], [and] helping to raise the minimum wage - to get a living wage here in New York. I feel he is going to be more on the side more of a lower and middle class people that need the help. I am excited!”
As a fellow liberal, “Gene” likes de Blasio’s politics, but as a bar owner, he is unsure what de Blasio’s election will mean for his small business.
“[With] a liberal mayor it is really hard to say, in this kind of business, whether we will have more scrutiny, more heat or whether we will have less. So it is a nervous time in the next couple of months, until we get a feel for what this guy is doing,” he said.
During his mayoral campaign, de Blasio often spoke of New York as a divided city. He contrasted the tiny super-wealthy international elite, centered almost entirely in Manhattan, with everyone else, including the city’s ethnic and racial minorities. Most New Yorkers live in the city’s other, less glamorous, four boroughs, and many of them, he said, are barely scraping by.
That message resonates with Manhattan resident Chris Lund over his morning coffee. “He can not do everything he wants to do, but I think the direction he wants to take city is needed at this point. Rescuing people in the middle and at the lower ends that have been neglected and also the [non-Manhattan] boroughs that have been neglected.”
Lund said he thinks de Blasio’s ascent from his role as public defender to the mayoralty may be a mere stepping stone on the way to national office.
“I was listening to de Blasio’s speech, and I think it was his acceptance speech, [and] there were echoes of Robert Kennedy for me. There was an attention to a broader spectrum of Americans. I think once the urban populations of this country listen to him that they will respond the way New Yorkers have."
De Blasio will be sworn in as New York City’s 109th mayor on New Year’s Day 2014.