De Blasio to Be Sworn in as Mayor in City Hall Ceremony

By Kristen Meriwether, Epoch Times
January 1, 2014 Updated: January 4, 2014

NEW YORK—Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio will be sworn in at noon Wednesday becoming the 109th mayor of New York City. 

De Blasio was officially sworn-in in a small ceremony outside his Park Slope home shortly after midnight on New Year’s Eve. The noon event is ceremonial.

Former City Councilmember Tish James will be sworn in as the public advocate, the first African American woman to hold a citywide office. Scott Stringer will be sworn in as comptroller.

The ceremony will take place on the storied steps of City Hall with over 1,000 guests braving the frigid temperatures to witness a piece of New York City history.

Former President Bill Clinton, whom de Blasio worked under while at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, will administer the oath of office. Rumored 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is also attending.

De Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray will hold the bible de Blasio is to be sworn in on. Dante and Chiara de Blasio, who played an integral part in their father’s election, will watch from the front row.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, an ally de Blasio will need in the coming years, will also attend the ceremony.

“It is incredibly humbling. I feel the enormity of the task, but also a real sense of familiarity with that which lies ahead,” de Blasio said at his final press conference as mayor-elect on Tuesday. “I understand pretty personally just how big the challenge is and just what it takes to do the job.” 

The ceremony is the icing on the cake of impromptu rise of the city’s former public advocate. Nearly a year to the day, de Blasio stood in front of his Park Slope home and vowed to address income inequality he claimed was dividing the city. 

He had early celebrity backing from actress Cynthia Nixon, but his campaign did not draw the media attention that early front runner and political rival Christine Quinn received. De Blasio’s idea to tax the rich to pay for universal pre-k was also panned.

As winter turned to spring, de Blasio continued to poll in second or third place. Disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner announced his campaign in May and took much of de Blasio’s support, according to the polls.

Despite the lack of support in the polls, Blasio never strayed from his message. He turned up the volume on his vow to reform the police department’s stop and frisk practice, which became a central issue during the hot months of summer. Weiner imploded after a repeat scandal and the city rallied behind de Blasio’s message of change.

After sealing the Democratic primary without the expected run-off, de Blasio sealed his mayoralty with a defining 73 percent of the votes over Republican Joe Lhota.

Progressive Shift

De Blasio’s message stoked the fire of progressive liberals anxious to move away from the policies of three-term Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Along with de Blasio, New York City voters elected Tish James as the public advocate and Scott Stringer as the city’s comptroller. Both ran on campaigns promising progressive values.

For the first time in 12 years three citywide offices (mayor, public advocate, and comptroller) will not only be from the same political party, but share the same ideals. If Melissa Mark-Viverito succeeds in her bid for City Council Speaker in early Jan., progressives will take a clean sweep. 

The City Council and Public Advocate are both charged with running as a check to the mayor. That dynamic played out well with Quinn as the speaker and de Blasio as the public advocate during Bloomberg’s tenure. 

Despite friendly ties with de Blasio, James, Stringer, and Mark-Viverito have vowed to not let their friendship get in the way of doing their job.

Tough Tasks

Wednesday will be all about the celebration, but when de Blasio settles in his desk on Thursday, he will face immediate challenges.

All of the city’s 152 municipal labor unions are looking to negotiate their expired labor contracts. While outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered de Blasio a balanced budget, there was little money set aside for the contracts.

The unions want retroactive pay and raises, which would cost the city some $7.8 billion. There is not that kind of money in the budget.

On Tuesday, de Blasio appointed Bob Linn as the director of labor relations. He will be tasked with the negotiations. 

To make good on his campaign promise of universal pre-k, de Blasio will head to Albany to appeal to the State Legislature to pass his tax hike on those making over $500,000. It is an election year for the legislators and they are talking tax cuts, not hikes.

De Blasio formed a grassroots group, UPKNYC, to help drum up support. Universal pre-k has wide support according to recent polls, however, funding it by a tax hike has less support. 

De Blasio will need final approval from his former boss at HUD, Gov. Cuomo. The governor has agreed on the need for pre-k, but has not said if he will approve the tax hike.

The mayor will also be looking to his new schools chancellor, Carmen Farina, to transform the schools system. Farina is a 40-year veteran of the New York City public school system whose ideals align with de Blasio’s. 

The duo will be looking to build on the increased graduation rates Bloomberg saw during his tenure, but will shy away from the charter schools model Bloomberg used. Instead, de Blasio said he wants to see move towards a community school model.