Bill de Blasio elected New York's first Democrat Mayor in 20 years following landslide election win

De Blasio's charismatic, biracial family offered a big boost in a campaign that focused on economic inequality

New York

Liberal Democrat Bill de Blasio cruised to victory on Tuesday in the race to succeed New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, marking the first time a Democrat has captured City Hall in two decades.

De Blasio, the city's public advocate, was leading Republican rival Joe Lhota 73 per cent to 24 per cent after a campaign in which he railed against economic inequality in America's most populous city, with 56 per cent of precincts reporting.

“My fellow New Yorkers: today, you spoke out loudly and clearly for a new direction in our city, united by a belief that our city should leave no New Yorker behind,” de Blasio told a gathering of about 2,000 revellers on Tuesday night in Brooklyn. “The growing inequality we see, the crisis of affordability we face, it has been decades in the making. But its slow creep upon this city cannot weaken our resolve.”

After promising to close the gap between the rich and poor, he now faces the challenge of high expectations - keeping crime at historic lows and reaching a long-overdue wage deal with the city workers' unions.

The 6 ft 5" de Blasio won a hotly contested Democratic primary in September by focusing on the controversial “stop-and-frisk” police tactic endorsed by Bloomberg and by criticizing the billionaire mayor for presiding over “two New Yorks” - one rich, one poor.

He also promoted expanding access to pre-kindergarten, proposing a tax on the city's highest earners to pay for it, and said he would fight to save community hospitals from closing.

But it was de Blasio's charismatic, biracial family that offered perhaps the biggest boost.

A campaign ad featuring de Blasio's teenage son, Dante, who sports a tall Afro, argued that the police department's stop-and-frisk policy unfairly targets young, black men and was easily the most discussed ad of the campaign, transforming Dante into a local celebrity.

“He's the first candidate for mayor in a long time that I'm actually excited about, excited about him helping to bring the city together and deal with issues of poverty,” voter Russell Neufeld, 66, a lawyer, said at his polling site in Brooklyn.

Alan Siege, an adjunct professor who teaches entrepreneurship at the City University of New York, said he voted for de Blasio because of the candidate's message for equality.

“I think it's good to be a manager,” Siege said, speaking of Lhota's experience. “But you have to have a vision too, and I think de Blasio has that.”

Lhota, who was a deputy mayor under Rudolph Giuliani and later headed the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, derided de Blasio as a “socialist” and insisted his opponent would lead New York back to its dark days of high crime and poor fiscal management.

In conceding the race on Tuesday night, Lhota congratulated de Blasio but said the campaign had been a “fight worth having.”

“Despite what you might have heard, we are one city,” Lhota said.

Democrats have been locked out of City Hall for two decades despite holding a 6-to-1 registration advantage over Republicans.

Despite his decisive win on Tuesday, de Blasio, who grew up in Boston and served two terms in the City Council, has his work cut out for him.

The city is forecasting a budget gap of $2.2 billion in the next financial year and is facing demands for retroactive pay increases from public sector unions that the current administration estimates could cost the city $4 billion to $8 billion.

“Bill de Blasio is the aspirational mayor and it is always hard to measure aspirations,” said long-time Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf. “He is the vessel for both the positive desires and resentments of a large portion of the city.”

“The expectations on him will be very high,” Sheinkopf said.

Reuters

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Author / Multimedia Writer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent