Dear Commons Community,
Yesterday was a most busy day in the coverage of the New York City mayoral election.
First, President Barack Obama enthusiastically endorsed Bill de Blasio, the Democratic Party candidate, stating:
“…Mr. de Blasio’s platform of “progressive change” would make him “a great mayor.” He also cited three of Mr. de Blasio’s top priorities — financing prekindergarten education, making housing more affordable and preserving community hospitals.
“Bill’s agenda for New York is marked by bold, courageous ideas that address the great challenges of our time…”
Second, the New York Times ran a front-page article on Bill Blasio chronicling his early years as an activist including time spent in Nicaragua during the Sandinista regime:
“Mr. de Blasio, who studied Latin American politics at Columbia and was conversational in Spanish, grew to be an admirer of Nicaragua’s ruling Sandinista party, thrusting himself into one of the most polarizing issues in American politics at the time. The Reagan administration denounced the Sandinistas as tyrannical and Communist, while their liberal backers argued that after years of dictatorship, they were building a free society with broad access to education, land and health care.
Today, Mr. de Blasio is critical of the Sandinistas’ crackdown on dissenters, but said he learned from his time trying to help the Central American country.
“My work was based on trying to create a more fair and inclusive world,” he said in a recent interview. “I have an activist’s desire to improve people’s lives.”
Mr. de Blasio became an ardent supporter of the Nicaraguan revolutionaries. He helped raise funds for the Sandinistas in New York and subscribed to the party’s newspaper, Barricada, or Barricade. When he was asked at a meeting in 1990 about his goals for society, he said he was an advocate of “democratic socialism.”
Mr. de Blasio’s Republican opponent, Joe Lhota, was quick to jump on the story and questioned whether a democratic socialist was fit to be mayor of New York.
Third, the Daily News ran a story on Eva Moskowtiz, who is planning a day of protest against Bill de Blasio’s position on charter schools. The article describes Moskowitz as “shamelessly” sending children to protest de Blasio on October 8th. If elected, De Blasio has vowed to end the practice of giving charter schools rent-free space in NYC public schools, a practice which he says gives the charter school operators an unfair advantage in containing costs. The article mentions that Ms. Moskowitz has also been the target of criticism for paying herself an outsized salary. The most recent tax filings show she earns at least $475,000 — about twice the salary of city Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.
This race is just beginning to heat up.