Incumbency should not guarantee de Blasio's return to City Hall seat
Four years ago, Bill de Blasio stood in front of City Hall and declared his desire to quell the “economic and social inequalities that threaten to unravel the city we love.”
As 5,000 New Yorkers looked on, former President Bill Clinton swore de Blasio in as the newly elected leader of the nation’s largest city. As the new mayor, de Blasio painted portraits of progressive visions and showcased his family-man demeanor by having his wife and two children participate in the inauguration.
However, optimistic rhetoric crafted by a candidate does not necessarily ensure success as a mayor. With de Blasio projected to win reelection without much competition, there is not much that he did to deserve it. De Blasio remains frustrated over lackluster reception toward his accomplishments while being flooded with negative press in his missteps.
“You’d assume they’d be having parades out in the streets,” he said of his tenure during a New York Magazine interview.
His time in office has been difficult for him due to social miscalculations, adversity from his own party and other undermining circumstances. But regardless of any outside factors, de Blasio’s shortcomings far outweigh his strengths, and his easy path to reelection is not merited.
Despite success in selecting NYPD leadership, de Blasio’s relationship with the organization can best be described as sour. Scores of officers continue to turn their backs towards the mayor at the funerals of their fallen peers, feeling that he does not have their best interests at heart.
Moreover, the mayor’s ability to manage the homelessness crisis has been dismal. As the number of people without shelter continues to surge, so do the bills of taxpayers. On April 16, the city spent almost $650,000 in a single day to house the homeless, reflecting a rising cost from the $530,000 spent on Feb. 28. The reason for this hefty charge is that when shelters are full, the city places any excess homeless New Yorkers into hotels. Comfortable accommodations come with a price tag and the city picks up the tab: over $2 billion per year, which is double the amount expended three years ago. The mayor has proposed an increase in the number of affordable housing units, but the projected possibility of their completion would not be until he is well out of office in 2024.
De Blasio has also been caught in the midst of a pay-to-play culture controversy. While he was cleared of any criminal activity back in March, new emails have surfaced in which the mayor responded to top donors who were eventually accused of corruption. One of these donors was Jona Rechnitz, a man who pleaded guilty in March for making contributions to government officials for special treatment. When Rechnitz asked de Blasio directly to attend his son’s bris, discuss an opera at the Met and name one of his friends as the new Department of Buildings commissioner, de Blasio emailed back, “I’m all ears Jona. We’ve actually been looking for additional candidates.” This situation, among other concerning behavior, has raised question marks and scrutiny over the mayor’s integrity, to which he has pushed back tremendously.
These are just a sample of the many headaches that de Blasio is responsible for, yet he is able to cruise past the finish line with little to no pressure. The reason for this lies in weak candidates across the political spectrum. No contender has the ability to challenge the incumbent candidate, which means the current mayor will continue to reside in Gracie Mansion. Pressure from the public should remain fierce and firm. De Blasio should not be allowed to go into a lame duck phase at the expense of New Yorkers.
The election for mayor will take place on Nov. 7. New York City deserves better, but it will be forced to wait another four years.