New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio takes oath of office
Bill de Blasio’s ceremonial swearing-in at City Hall was conducted on a far grander scale, kicking off with hip-hop music and ending with an invitation for New Yorkers to meet the new mayor.
The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Democrat Bill de Blasio took the oath of office administered by former President Clinton on Wednesday, formally becoming New York City’s 109th mayor while pledging to pursue a liberal agenda.
“Big dreams are not a luxury reserved for a privileged few but the animating force behind every community, in every borough,” he said.
The moment was the pinnacle of de Blasio’s unlikely political rise as a symbol of restoration for the city’s Democrats, who outnumber Republicans 6-to-1 in one of the nation’s most liberal cities yet haven’t controlled City Hall since 1993.
De Blasio, 52, was formally sworn in early Wednesday in a brief ceremony in front of his family’s row house in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood. Flanked by his wife, Chirlane McCray, and their two teenage children, he was administered the oath by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, signed the official paperwork and paid the requisite $9 fee to the city clerk.
The ceremonial swearing-in 12 hours later at City Hall was conducted on a far grander scale, kicking off with hip-hop music and ending with an invitation for New Yorkers to meet the new mayor.
Clinton was joined by his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, a presumptive White House front-runner in 2016. Another potential presidential candidate, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, sat nearby, as did former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, just hours into his first day as a private citizen after spending 12 years in office.
Thousands of people braved low temperatures to salute the new mayor, who held a receiving line in City Hall after the ceremony. Two other Democrats also were sworn in to hold citywide offices: Letitia James as public advocate and Scott Stringer as comptroller.
Bill Clinton, in whose administration de Blasio had served as a regional official in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, swore in de Blasio using a Bible once owned by President Franklin Roosevelt.
De Blasio thanked his family, supporters and the city for “taking on the elite” and pushing for change in the city of 8.4 million people.
“When I said we would take dead aim at the tale of two cities, I meant it. And we will do it,” he said. “I will honor the faith and trust you have placed in me. And we will give life to the hope of so many in our city. We will succeed ... as one city.”
The celebrities in attendance were not confined to the political world: Singer Harry Belafonte opened the event, while actresses Cynthia Nixon and Patina Miller had starring roles. Scores of everyday New Yorkers took part, including Dasani Coates, 12, who was featured in a New York Times’ multipart series on homelessness from which de Blasio repeatedly said he has drawn inspiration.
Speaker after speaker, from Bellafonte to Stringer to James, railed against the city’s inequality, delivering sharp rebukes to — though never mentioning by name — Bloomberg. Only Bill Clinton and de Blasio offered praise for the former mayor, whose poll numbers remain relatively high.
The former president received a raucous ovation and spoke highly of de Blasio’s agenda. De Blasio’s tenure will be closely watched by liberals throughout the country who are eager to see how the nation’s largest city may be reshaped.
His first test in office, however, will likely be a practical one delivered by Mother Nature: A significant snowstorm is expected to hit the five boroughs Thursday and Friday.
In his speech, De Blasio reached out to those he contended were lost during the often Manhattan-centric Bloomberg administration, and he called for a tax increase on the wealthy to pay for universal prekindergarten.
“We do not ask more of the wealthy to punish success,” he said. “We do it to create more success stories.”
He also pledged to improve economic opportunities in minority and working-class neighborhoods and decried accusations of abuse under the police department’s stop-and-frisk policy. He and his new police commissioner, William Bratton, have pledged to moderate the use of the tactic, which supporters say drives down crime but which critics claim unfairly singles out blacks and Hispanics.
De Blasio won a landslide victory Nov. 5 over the Republican candidate, Joseph Lhota, seizing on an anxiety among voters that the city was increasingly becoming a gilded enclave for the rich, and vowing a sharp turn from the administration of Bloomberg.
Material from The New York Times is included in this report.