Up Close With NYC's Mayoral Candidates: Bill de Blasio...
Bill de Blasio, a father of two, resides in Park Slope Brooklyn with his wife, Chirlane. He began his political career as a junior staffer for Mayor David Dinkins.
De Blasio later became an assistant for community affairs for City Hall. Under former Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo, he served as Regional Director for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. De Blasio joined Brooklyn’s District 15 School Board in 1999, and in 2000, he helped manage Hillary Clinton’s Senate campaign. In 2001, he began his eight year service on the City Council, during which de Blasio served on the Council’s General Welfare Committee. In 2010, he was elected Public Advocate, a position de Blasio currently holds.
With two kids in the public school system, the issue of education is important to Bill de Blasio. He has already called for a tax increase for wealthy New Yorkers in order to expand middle schools’ after-school programs and to create universal pre-Kindergarten programs. In addition, de Blasio says he will invest $150 million each year into the City University of New York to help lower tuition and improve degree programs. De Blasio is also calling for the improvement of Career & Technical Education schools, and an end to unfair school closures. Other plans for the city’s education system include the improvement of special education, lowering the weight of testing, reducing class size, and expanding Advanced Placement programs, Early College, and dual high school/college models.
Safety and Crime Prevention
Bill de Blasio is pushing for an end to racial profiling with reformed stop-and-frisk policies, strong gun safety laws, a new police commissioner and an inspector general position at the NYPD. He’s focused on transparency and police accountability. De Blasio also plans to increase police resources.
As mayor, Bill de Blasio plans to install a campaign of city agencies and community-based organization who will reach out to uninsured New Yorkers who are eligible for Affordable Care Act programs. Committing all necessary financial and human resources, he will enroll 600,000 more New Yorkers in these programs by 2018. De Blasio will also work to protect community hospitals through the partnership of struggling hospitals with flagship ones. Among several other initiatives, de Blasio will create at least 16 new community health clinics.
Under the de Blasio administration, the city would establish economic development hubs in every neighborhood. These would “map the economic assets, industries, needs, and human resources in each neighborhood and economic sector.” All hubs will be overseen by a Job Creation Coordinator who will focus on job training and creation.
De Blasio is focused on providing assistance to small businesses. He’s proposed a series of programs for the city in order to increase support for immigrant entrepreneurs. He’s also looking to promote job-related education in public schools, like programs at the city’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) high schools. In addition, de Blasio is pushing for paid sick days and a living wage.
Bill de Blasio has proposed a reform of all tax breaks and the elimination of programs such as the Industrial and Commercial Abatement Program (ICAP). According to de Blasio, these programs have weak payoffs and their elimination will save $250 million annually. He’s also focused on creating a Unified Development Budget, which will ensure living wage jobs are created by any subsidies.
The building and preservation of nearly 200,000 units of affordable housing will take place over the next decade. De Blasio says legal action will be taken if the real estate industry doesn’t help. In addition, over the next five years de Blasio vows to make affordable, high-speed fiber Internet available to all New York City households. He’ll also work to create public Wi-Fi hot zones around economic development hubs with the help of Business Improvement Districts and local Chambers of Commerce. De Blasio’s also committed to his “NYC’s Worst Landlords Watch List.” The list has helped tenants team up and fight for their rights against their landlord.
With a focus on the outer boroughs, Bill de Blasio’s transportation plan reveals an efficient and flexible system. He plans to create a citywide Bus Rapid Transit network with over 20 lines to decrease outer-borough commute times. De Blasio hopes to limit Madison Square Garden’s permit to ten years in order to move the arena and create a larger Penn Station. Among other initiatives, de Blasio will fight for the city’s right to install red light and speed enforcement cameras around schools and senior centers, and to keep fares affordable.
Bill de Blasio plans to build on the success of PlaNYC to expand sustainability initiatives throughout the city. Under his administration, de Blasio will continue to invest in large-scale green energy production, have city workers help business owners reduce energy use, and increase recycling and reducing waste. In addition, he’ll restore waterways in an effort to expand urban ecotourism locations and expand composting citywide.
Post-Sandy Recovery and Rebuilding
After Superstorm Sandy, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio went into neighborhoods distributing information on how businesses could restore power, retrieve lost income, receive FEMA aid, and file insurance claims. He gave out his office’s direct line, encouraging New Yorkers who lost work, due to the storm, to call for help. In addition, de Blasio pushed for an extension of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits for low-income New Yorkers.
Bill de Blasio will simplify the application process for food assistance programs by working with the state government. He’ll create an outreach effort to make sure New Yorkers know if they can or cannot receive food and income security. In addition, de Blasio plans to make free lunch available to all public school children, and to increase the SNAP participation rate for mixed documented families.
As mayor, Bill de Blasio will work to increase support for homeless LGBT youth by base-lining funding of outreach programs. He also plans to increase LGBT-specific housing for seniors, and to work on enrolling LGBT New Yorkers in public and affordable private insurance plans. Bill de Blasio is focused on making the workplace friendlier for women through the prevention of harassment and discrimination and by working to ensure equal pay for equal work. In addition, he plans to diversify the police and fire departments and support women and minority-owned businesses. He’ll also work to make it easier for women who are victims of domestic violence or single mothers to access affordable housing.