Bill de Blasio poised to be next NYC mayor
MILLIONS of New Yorkers went to the polls yesterday to elect a new mayor, with left-wing progressive Bill de Blasio tipped for a landslide victory to replace billionaire Michael Bloomberg.
The 52-year-old public advocate and his black, formerly lesbian, wife promise a new mayorship style to a city transformed by 12 years of tough love under Mr Bloomberg, who is not standing again.
Mr De Blasio's campaign has left Republican rival Joe Lhota trailing in the dust, picking up on the worries of the economically vulnerable middle class and tapping into a once-reliably Democratic electorate.
An NBC-Wall Street Journal poll on Monday gave him a historic 41-point lead over Mr Lhota.
But, with turnout typically weak for mayoral elections, Mr de Blasio used the final day of campaigning to urge supporters to make good on their promises and to go out to vote.
"You have to go into every neighbourhood and tell people how much this matters," he said, pressing the flesh in his home borough Brooklyn in the early-morning winter chill.
By trading heavily on public appearances with his wife Chirlane and teenage children Dante and Chiara, he has connected with ordinary families trying to make ends meet and a vastly diverse electorate.
His multiracial family has struck a chord in a city of great ethnic diversity: 33.3 per cent of New York is white, 25.5 per cent black, 28.6 per cent Hispanic and 12.7 per cent Asian.
If elected New York's 109th mayor, Mr de Blasio promises to raise taxes to fund universal pre-kindergarten education and after-school programmes, and build 200,000 affordable housing units.
He wants to reform the "stop and frisk" policy, which critics say unfairly targets black and Hispanic minorities, but which supporters say has driven down crime.
He has campaigned hard on the gulf between rich and poor in a city with more than 440,000 millionaires, but where 21 per cent of its residents live in poverty.
Mr de Blasio was on the city council for eight years as a housing official under then president Bill Clinton and had managed Mrs Hillary Clinton's New York Senate race in 2000.