As Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio prepares to run the city, thinkers on the left and the right debated the significance of his election and their hopes for his administration at the Talking Transition tent in SoHo on Monday. Grace Rauh filed the following report.
Depending on your point of view, Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's victory may be a sign that New Yorkers are demanding radical change at City Hall. Nicole Gelinas of the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, says that analysis is just plain inaccurate.
“Turnout was low, perhaps historically low, if people wanted a big difference from Mayor Bloomberg, they didn't show it by going out and voting. And more than half the people say they are more or less happy with the mayor's performance,” said Nicole Gelinas of the Manhattan Institute.
Turnout was about 24 percent, a record low. But to some de Blasio's fans, his margin of victory and his ability to avoid a runoff in the closely contested Democratic primary are all signs of something bigger: a rejection of the idea that government is the problem, not the solution.
Dan Cantor of the labor-backed Working Families Party argues that de Blasio was saying something else during his campaign, something that resonated with voters.
“That the government, that is to say the society, has a role to play in mitigating inequality and making sure people's life chances are not determined at birth, which is the way it is for far too many of our fellow citizens,” said Dan Cantor of the Working Families Party.
Cantor debated Gelinas at the Talking Transitions tent on Monday. He has close ties to the mayor-elect and his party has helped propel de Blasio's political career.
With the win behind him, Cantor is already adding items to his wish list. De Blasio wants to raise taxes on New Yorkers who make more than $500,000 a year to pay for universal pre-K.
Cantor wants to go further.
“The universal pre-K that Mayor-elect de Blasio has been talking about is an exciting prospect,” Cantor said. “After we accomplish that, hopefully we will be able to turn our attention to even younger children.”
But even Cantor is careful not to get too far ahead of himself. He said he will be pushing for these changes one step at a time.