A look at de Blasio’s NYC mayoral tenure and what’s next

Dec 29, 2021, 1:49 PM | Updated: 1:55 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — Bill de Blasio swept into the New York City mayor’s office eight years ago promising a liberal remolding of the nation’s largest city that would level deep inequities and reform police practices.

He had some successes, delivering on a promise to offer universal pre-K and curbing the police stop-and-frisk tactic. But the legacy of de Blasio’s two terms has also been shaped by strained relationships with both police and the police-reform activists who propelled him to office, public discord with the former governor and gaffes memorialized in skewering headlines.

As he closes out the final days of his term, de Blasio is contemplating a run for higher office, a bet that his early achievements and his steering the city of 8.8 million through the pandemic will stick with New Yorkers more than the flubs and conflicts, separating the substance from style.

“I want people to remember that we needed to fight inequality and we did. And it can be done,” de Blasio said in an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press. “We were able to do that in very tangible, real ways. I think that opens the door for a lot more going forward, but it can be done.”

He officially turns over the reins to Mayor-elect Eric Adams, a Democrat and former police captain, on Jan. 1.

___

WINS, REGRETS AND FAUX PAUS

After winning a landslide victory in 2013, de Blasio became the first Democrat in two decades to serve as mayor of New York, a heavily Democratic metropolis that could serve as a laboratory for liberal policies, such as the $15-an-hour minimum wage he pushed to achieve.

His arrival marked a departure from the years of Michael Bloomberg — the billionaire former mayor who started as a Republican and ended as an independent — who boasted of the city as a luxury product and defended stop-and-frisk.

De Blasio’s progressive agenda and populist message were at times overshadowed by tabloid-delighting blunders, such as when he ate a slice of pizza with a knife and fork.

Other notable fumbles included showing up late to a memorial for plane crash victims and dropping a groundhog during a Groundhog Day celebration. The groundhog died a week later.

The mayor said he was not surprised that New York City media was tough and that the tabloid headlines were “colorful,” such as a recent New York Post cover in which he was photoshopped to appear as a Santa Claus wearing a Fidel Castro hat under the headline, “Santanista Claus.”

De Blasio notched a victory in his first year by expanding public prekindergarten to every 4-year-old in the city. He built on that, expanding the program to more 3-year-olds with a plan to make it universal by fall of 2023.

___

TENSIONS WITH POLICE

He’s had a difficult relationship with police. De Blasio started his mayoralty pledging to overhaul the department’s interactions with the public and curtailed its tactic of stopping, questioning and frisking mostly Black and Hispanic people on the street en masse.

His handling of the summer 2014 police killing of Eric Garner angered officers and many of the police reform advocates who worked to elect de Blasio.

He spoke critically of the officers but largely held off any department punishments until a lengthy federal civil rights investigation concluded. Later that year, when a disturbed gunman angry about police killings of unnamed Black men fatally shot two NYPD officers, the head of the city’s largest police union said the mayor had “blood on his hands,” and officers turned their backs on the mayor as he spoke at police funerals.

L. Joy Williams, a political strategist and president of the Brooklyn NAACP, said de Blasio seemed to approach the confrontation with the NYPD “as a political crisis, rather than as a humanity crisis.”

Williams said that was disappointing, and the coalition of groups pushing for police reform who helped elected de Blasio expected him to be tougher against the officers and the union.

De Blasio acknowledged the tension with some police union leaders and some police reform activists, saying he doesn’t agree with all of them and thinks mainstream New Yorkers wanted something in the middle.

___ WHAT’S NEXT (AND WHAT’S NOT)

It wasn’t just those corners of the city that had their qualms with the mayor. Some New Yorkers questioned de Blasio’s focus on the job when he launched a muddling bid for president in 2019. He told The AP that while the experience was “difficult” and “unlikely,” it made him realize he needed to communicate with people better.

He said his presidential ambitions are in the past. “Not on my dance card,” he quipped.

De Blasio admits he struggled to address intractable issues such as homelessness.

The population of single adults in shelters rose during his two terms despite a drop in the number of homeless families in shelters and his administration meeting a goal of building or preserving 200,000 affordable housing units.

When New York City became the epicenter of the pandemic, de Blasio’s attempts to manage the response were frequently defined by feuding with then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who fueled their long-simmering tense relationship by swatting down de Blasio’s plans for a shelter-in-place order and school closures.

When Cuomo resigned in August amid sexual harassment allegations, de Blasio had wider latitude in his city’s response. He rolled out aggressive mandates, requiring every public employee to get vaccinated. He later extended the mandates to private-sector workers, the most sweeping vaccine mandate of any state or big city in the U.S.

So far, de Blasio has remained coy on his future plans when asked if he’s going to run for governor. Equally vague is the Democrat’s path to the governor’s mansion. Gov. Kathy Hochul has been amassing campaign funds and Democratic endorsements, from upstate officials to leaders in the heart of de Blasio’s Brooklyn.

“I think I’ve put plenty of breadcrumbs out there on the trail,” he said. “I’m going to stay in public service. As to electoral politics, I’ll give an update very, very soon.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A person wearing a protective mask walks past an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 ...
Associated Press

Asian shares mixed after China cuts key rate, Japan GDP up

BANGKOK (AP) — Shares were mixed in Asia on Monday after China’s central bank cut a key interest rate and Japan reported its economy picked up momentum in the last quarter. Tokyo and Sydney advanced while Hong Kong, Shanghai and Bangkok fell. U.S. futures edged lower early Monday, while oil prices declined. The People’s Bank […]
24 hours ago
A person wearing a protective mask walks past an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 ...
Associated Press

Asian shares mixed after China cuts key rate, Japan GDP up

BANGKOK (AP) — Shares were mixed in Asia on Monday after China’s central bank cut a key interest rate and Japan reported its economy expanded at a faster pace in the last quarter. Tokyo and Sydney advanced while Hong Kong, Shanghai and Bangkok fell. U.S. futures edged higher Monday while oil prices declined. The People’s […]
24 hours ago
FILE - Farmer John Hawk looks over his land as his seed onion fields are watered in Holtville, Cali...
Associated Press

Deadline looms for drought-stricken states to cut water use

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Banks along parts of the Colorado River where water once streamed are now just caked mud and rock as climate change makes the Western U.S. hotter and drier. More than two decades of drought have done little to deter the region from diverting more water than flows through it, depleting […]
24 hours ago
FILE - Farmer John Hawk looks over his land as his seed onion fields are watered in Holtville, Cali...
Associated Press

Deadline looms for drought-stricken states to cut water use

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Banks along parts of the Colorado River where water once streamed are now just caked mud and rock as climate change makes the Western U.S. hotter and drier. More than two decades of drought have done little to deter the region from diverting more water than flows through it, depleting […]
24 hours ago
FILE - Employees of NY State Solar, a residential and commercial photovoltaic systems company, inst...
Associated Press

AP-NORC poll: Many in US doubt their own impact on climate

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans are less concerned now about how climate change might impact them personally — and about how their personal choices affect the climate — than they were three years ago, a new poll shows, even as a wide majority still believe climate change is happening. The June Associated Press-NORC Center for Public […]
24 hours ago
FILE - Employees of NY State Solar, a residential and commercial photovoltaic systems company, inst...
Associated Press

AP-NORC poll: Many in US doubt their own impact on climate

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans are less concerned now about how climate change might impact them personally — and about how their personal choices affect the climate — than they were three years ago, a new poll shows, even as a wide majority still believe climate change is happening. The June Associated Press-NORC Center for Public […]
24 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
...
CANVAS ANNUITY

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
A look at de Blasio’s NYC mayoral tenure and what’s next