NEW YORK — Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday marked his final day at City Hall by looking back at his administration’s accomplishments, thanking his family for their support and praising New Yorkers for their “heroism” throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
At a news briefing held shortly before he departed City Hall for the last time as mayor, de Blasio — accompanied by his wife Chirlane McCray and his son Dante — highlighted the efforts he undertook to tackle issues including income inequality during his eight years in office.
What You Need To Know
- Mayor Bill de Blasio held his final press conference at City Hall on Thursday
- During the briefing, the outgoing mayor looked back at his administration's accomplishments, thanked his family for their support and praised New Yorkers for their "heroism" throughout the pandemic
- De Blasio was accompanied by his wife Chirlane McCray and his son Dante
- “This city, the eyes of the world have been on New York for the last two years, and what you’ve shown the world is the very best of us," he said
Before officially handing over the reins of NYC government to @ericadamsfornyc on Saturday, Mayor @BilldeBlasio ceremonially left City Hall on Thursday evening. #NY1Politics https://t.co/ypYPKmt9dV pic.twitter.com/OeEIqTI0NV— Spectrum News NY1 (@NY1) December 30, 2021
“Eight years ago, we had a vision of fighting inequality. We really believed it had to be done. We felt it urgently,” he said. “And I knew that if this city didn’t change, we weren’t going to make it in the long term — it just wasn’t going to work. I really felt, at times, that the New York City we loved was slipping away.”
The mayor touted his rollout of universal pre-K and 3-K, his expansion of paid sick leave and the construction of thousands of affordable apartments during his tenure as lessons in “never accept[ing] when you’re told something can’t happen.”
A video he played during the briefing also spotlighted his administration’s role in reducing the city’s poverty level, rolling out a $15 minimum wage, ending stop-and-frisk and improving mental health resources, among other efforts.
“Pre-K wasn’t supposed to be possible. Paid sick leave wasn’t supposed to be possible. Two hundred thousand affordable apartments wasn’t supposed to be possible,” he said. “Over and over again, we kept hearing it wasn’t supposed to be possible, and we found the extraordinary possibilities out there, so I just urge, for everyone who wants a more fair and just society, never let anyone tell you what you can’t do.”
The outgoing mayor also credited New Yorkers for their response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
As of Thursday, 95% of the city’s workforce had gotten vaccinated against COVID-19, de Blasio said. Approximately six million New Yorkers, meanwhile, were fully vaccinated.
“For my family, for all of us, there’s no words for how special this has been, but I will tell you that I came in the door loving this city deeply, and loving its people deeply,” he said. “I have come to love you even more, because I’ve seen the heart and soul of this city. I’ve seen how good the people are.”
“And in the last two years especially, I’ve seen heroism. This is a hero city,” he added. “This city, the eyes of the world have been on New York for the last two years, and what you’ve shown the world is the very best of us,” he added. “So my love has grown, and I honor you. I thank you.”
Initially, de Blasio was set to officially walk out of City Hall, like mayors have done at the end of their tenures before him.
But instead, outside of City Hall's gates were protesters. Some were waving Trump flags. But their jeers could be heard from inside City Hall. As a result, the festivities were moved inside.
No ceremonial exit, but a tribute to staff in City Hall's rotunda.
"What we did here in these eight years has profoundly changed this city and the effects of what we have done have only begun to be felt," the mayor said to the crowd. Staff members from years past all gathered around to hear his final thoughts. Some had tears in their eyes.
De Blasio is still coy on his plans for the future. He will move back to Brooklyn and continue to contemplate a run for statewide office. We asked when we could know more:
"The time to speak about the future is up ahead a little bit in the future,” de Blasio said. “Not going to do that today. Whatever plans I have I will be talking about very, very soon.”