Dear Commons Community,
This is an off-year election but here in New York we have Bill de Blasio running for re-election as mayor. It is my opinion that he has done an excellent job for the City. He is progressive without being aloof. He knows the city well and can relate to the diverse spectrum of people who live here. Crime is down, the economy is fine, and public education has improved significantly under his watch. His universal pre-K initiative was a Godsend for young children and their families. He is also articulate and can led during a crisis as was evident last week when eight people were killed in a terrorist attack in Manhattan. Below is the New York Times endorsement that was published on Friday.
Please vote on Tuesday!
Mayor de Blasio Has Earned a Second Term
New York Times
November 2, 2017
Unless the pollsters have all taken leave of their senses, Bill de Blasio is about to win re-election as New York’s mayor, probably by a wide margin. So it is not too soon for New Yorkers to focus on what they expect for his second term, the last one he is allowed under the city’s term-limits law.
While they’re at it, they may want to think hard about their own commitment to civic life. Democracy functions only if its citizens make it work. They do that by showing up on Election Day. But far too many of the city’s nearly 4.5 million registered voters are AWOL. Only 26 percent of them went to the polls in the 2013 mayoral election, and that turnout was spectacular compared with the dismal 14 percent in this year’s primaries. Even allowing that this campaign has hardly been rousing, the apathy is troublesome.
We supported Mr. de Blasio for the Democratic nomination in the September primaries because the city in the main has been well run on his watch. Nothing on that score has changed. Obviously, serious problems remain, with unrelenting homelessness and tottering mass transit high on the list. But, over all, Mr. de Blasio has been an able mayor who can point to an impressively low crime rate, sound municipal finances and progress on revivifying schools and on creating reasonably priced apartments.
And so we give him our endorsement in the general election on Tuesday.
His principal opponent is Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, a Republican who represents slices of Staten Island and Brooklyn. An unfamiliar figure in wide swaths of the five boroughs, Ms. Malliotakis has run a spirited campaign and deserves credit for it. But her ambition seems to outpace her vision for the city. And her resolute conservatism puts her out of sync with most New Yorkers — and us — on pivotal matters like raising the state minimum wage (she opposed it), legalizing same-sex marriage (she voted no on that, too, though she later expressed regret) and immigration policy (she is tepid on the “sanctuary city” concept).
Catching up to the mayor is not Ms. Malliotakis’s only Election Day concern. Bo Dietl, the showboating former police detective who’s running as an independent, could take center-right votes from her. Sal Albanese, a respected former city councilman who has the Reform Party line, lives on Staten Island and might cut into her support there.
The bedeviling crisis of homelessness, many years in the making, mocks principles of social equality that the mayor holds dear. Building or restoring tens of thousands of units of affordable housing, a signature de Blasio program, is one response, but it’s not enough. Another mayoral goal, to scatter 90 new homeless shelters across the city, has produced predictable neighborhood backlashes. And as ever, there are no easy solutions for taking care of the thousands of mentally ill people sleeping on the streets and in the subways.
New Yorkers need to hear more from the mayor on a range of vital matters: how he intends to narrow the racial gap in educational achievement, push crime still lower, build the borough-based jails he has advocated, foster new public health initiatives and ease the epidemic of small-store closings. He also must do a better job than he has thus far to make sure campaign donors are kept at arm’s length — even two arms’ length. There are quality-of-life issues as well. Why not, for instance, take on building owners who leave sidewalk sheds in place long past their expiration date, blighting miles upon miles of urban landscape? Or crack down on noise pollution, a dominant complaint in the city that says it doesn’t sleep — but would like to.
Then we have the Trump administration and the Republican-controlled Congress, neither notably friendly to big cities. A bad moon could be rising for New York, with federal dollars for mass transit, hospitals, housing and schools at risk. Mr. de Blasio knows it, and he has wisely built up cash reserves as a buffer.
But having lots of money on hand puts pressure on him to peel off a few hundred million, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo insists, to help repair the subways. Relations between these two men are toxic. The governor plainly delights in making the mayor’s life unpleasant; he needs to knock it off. But he’s not going away, and so it falls in good measure on Mr. de Blasio to figure out how to make the relationship work. Their united stand after the terrorist attack Tuesday in Lower Manhattan showed it can be done.
There’s another aspect to his job: The best mayors have been brazen civic cheerleaders, and too often Mr. de Blasio seems aloof. For starters, he should step up his game: ride the subways more, hold news conferences on the subject — in short, pound the table for a mass-transit system worthy of a great city. Mayors are also called on to be consolers in chief. Mr. de Blasio ought to appreciate that there are times when his constituents need their collective hand held. One such moment came in July when a police officer, Miosotis Familia, was gunned down. The next day, with the city in pain, Mr. de Blasio flew off to Germany. That was a mistake.
Maybe he has since learned the importance of sticking around. His impulse is to travel the land as an agent of progressivism. But he can do best for himself by doing best for his city — staying close to home, building upon past successes and working on those areas of the report card marked “needs improvement.”