The Progressive Future Of New York City


In a decisive victory on Tuesday night, Bill de Blasio won the office of New York City Mayor, becoming the first Democratic mayor of the city in 24 years and winning by the widest margin since Mayor Ed Koch (D) in 1985.

Tuesday’s other victories — the re-election of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) and the selection of Terry McAuliffe (D) as Virginia’s governor — maintained a status quo of establishment candidates, largely viewed as moderates and backed by business interests.

But de Blasio is not your run-of-the-mill Democrat. He has unabashedly embraced the title of “progressive” throughout his campaign, pushing a platform of new ideas and promising economic fairness as a corrective to the reign of Mayor Mike Bloomberg (I) that some feel has unfairly rewarded the wealthy and corporations. Under Mayor Bloomberg, the percentage of New Yorkers living in poverty has risen to over 21 percent, and income inequality in the city rivals that of developing nations.

“The people of this city have chosen a progressive path,” de Blasio said during his victory speech. “We all have a shared responsibility and a shared stake in making sure their destiny is defined by how hard they work and how big they dream, and not by their ZIP code.”

Here are just some of the progressive policies that de Blasio has vowed to push for during his time in office:

Expanding Pre-K with taxes on the rich. The new mayor has an aggressive agenda on education reform, and he’s tied it to reducing income inequality, too. de Blasio has promised to overhaul the city’s preschool system and use taxes levied on the richest (those making over $500,000 in the city) to fund a daycare for all Pre-K programs. Affordable preschool programs are shown to have a lasting effect on the economic success of children and provide the means for mothers to work and avoid trying to pay for daycare.

Ending Stop and Frisk. In his previous role as Public Advocate, de Blasio released a series of reports (PDF) on how discriminatory Stop and Frisk is — 84 percent of those stopped under the controversial policy are Black or Latino. He now says he wants serious reforms of the practice and plans to introduce a racial profiling bill, as well as replace top-level officials at the New York Police Department.

Creating new affordable housing. The number of homeless families in New York City has skyrocketed under Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure, by 73 percent according to Coalition for the Homeless. But affordable housing has never been large on Bloomberg’s agenda. de Blasio hopes to change this and has pledged to preserve or create a total of 200,000 affordable housing units in the city to serve homeless and low-income city dwellers.

Raising the minimum wage and expanding paid sick leave. de Blasio has called for a change to the minimum wage in New York and wants to ask the state capitol of Albany to allow New York City to determine its own minimum wage, instead of hewing to the state’s overall wage laws. He also wants to close loopholes left open in the city’s paid sick leave laws. Currently, the law only gives paid sick leave to employees of companies with over 15 workers, leaving out over 300,000 workers.

Throughout his campaign, de Blasio told voters that he wants to be a mayor of all the city’s residents, not just the white, wealthy elite. And, judging from the election results, that’s what he got. The New York Daily News ran the headline Wednesday morning saying, “Exit polls show Bill de Blasio swept virtually every demographic.” Indeed, he won 52 percent of white voters, 95 percent of black voters, 85 percent of hispanics and, perhaps most surprisingly given his economic agenda, 64 percent of those making over $100,000 a year.