Mayor Bill de Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray, has long been one of his closest and most trusted advisors, helping to guide policy and personnel decisions, and now, she's got a title of her own in the new administration. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
It's not every day that Mayor Bill de Blasio introduces a new appointee with a kiss on the lips, but not every appointee is his wife of nearly 20 years, Chirlane McCray, the new chairperson of the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City. The event was heavy on playful flirting.
McCray: Thank you, Mayor de Blasio.
De Blasio: You've never called me that before.
At another point, McCray said, "You may have to come over here, Bill, and pinch me."
Thursday's news conference took place at the Osborne Association, which, among other things, provides job training to the formerly incarcerated. It's the kind of program that benefits from the Mayor's Fund, which raises private donations and then puts the money toward worthy projects.
De Blasio said that with experience in government and nonprofits and as an activist, the first lady was uniquely qualified for the job.
"Her entire life has been committed to progressive change, and she knows so well how to move forward a strategy of change," de Blasio said. "She's certainly changed a lot of my bad habits into good habits, too, I'd like to say."
"The more we talked about it over the last few weeks, the more I could see that it was a good match for my abilities," McCray said. "So I'm going to say the three words that you love to hear from me: You were right."
Thursday's announcement should mostly put an end to speculation about what the first lady's role will be at City Hall. De Blasio confirmed that she won't have an office there, but rather, at the existing Mayor's Fund offices nearby at 253 Broadway."
The job is unpaid and not necessarily full-time, leaving her time to work on other initiatives like universal pre-K. An executive will manage day-to-operations, and newly named senior advisor Gabrielle Fialkoff will have oversight of the Mayor's Fund.
Asked about comparisons to another famous power couple, de Blasio pushed back a bit.
"We have immense respect for President Clinton and Secretary Clinton," he said. "We know them well. We work closely with them. But we see ourselves as particular to this moment in this situation."