On Tuesday, November 5, 2013 just over one million New York City voters turned out to elect a new Mayor and a variety of other officials to other citywide offices, borough president seats, and the City Council. Voters made some bold statements with their votes and are expecting great changes come January.
Touted progressive and soon to be former Public Advocate, Bill de Blasio was elected by a landslide over his opponent, GOP candidate and former NYC Transit Authority Chief, Joe Lhota. Big Apple residents have spent the last twelve years under the rule of Michael Bloomberg and the results signaled a desire for change. De Blasio moved quickly to appoint co-chairs of his transition team, which includes Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies head, Jennifer Jones Austin and Carl Weisbrod.
De Blasio’s Tale of Two Cities message resonated with 73 percent of voters and is what ultimately thrust him into Gracie Mansion (or he may just be staying in Brooklyn if his son Dante has anything to say about it). This effective storyline is based on the growing income inequality in the City, which is among one the highest in the nation.
The Mayor-Elect has an uphill battle with a $2 billion budget deficit to address over his first days in office. He has promised to lobby Albany for a tax increase on high income earners to fund universal pre-kindergarten programming. This increase needs approval from the Governor and Legislature. The Governor is seeking a statewide tax cut in the ball park of $2-3 billion, but seems open to talking about other funding alternatives. There is also the issue of union contracts; Unionized City workers have been working without a contract for four years. Current Mayor Bloomberg refused to negotiate, leaving his successor to define a new contract and tackle the costly issue of retroactive pay raises. If these raises are granted they will cost the City an estimated $8 billion, eating up a huge portion of the budget and very likely at the expense of a variety of City-funded services.
All eyes are on Mayor-elect de Blasio in the run up to January and how he will address many deep lying problems plaguing the City for years, such as poverty and income inequality.
In other races, current Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer was also elected in a landslide to be the City’s next Comptroller. His main opponent, Wall Street veteran, John Burnett, had a less than meager showing at the polls. Stringer is already out touring the City and touting his plans for day one as Comptroller.
Democrats continued their trouncing with Brooklyn Council Member Leticia James winning the Public Advocate seat. In this position Councilmember James will act as the mouth piece for the City’s woes.
Each of the five boroughs elected Presidents: Gale Brewer of Manhattan, Eric Adams of Brooklyn, Melinda Katz of Queens, James Oddo of Staten Island and incumbent Ruben Diaz of the Bronx.
There will be 21 new City Council members headed to 250 Broadway in January: Corey Johnson, Ben Kallos, Helen Rosenthal and Mark Levine in Manhattan, Antonio Reynoso, Laurie Cumbo, Robert Cornegy, Rafael Espinal, Carlos Menchaca, Inez Barron, Alan Maisel, Mark Treyger and Chaim Deutsch in Brooklyn, Paul Vallone, Costa Constantinides, Rory Lancman and Daneek Miller in Queens, Andrew Cohen, Ritchie Torres and Vanessa Gibson in the Bronx and Steven Matteo on Staten Island.
Congratulations to all the winners. January is right around the corner and voters are anxious to see if promises made are promises delivered.
Contributed by Shana Mosher of the Human Services Council.