Updated Jan. 28, 6:40 pm
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, a longtime Park Slope resident, announced on Sunday his bid for the mayor's seat, promising to pay attention to working-class New Yorkers he says have been ignored or "priced out" under Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The 51-year-old Democrat made the announcement outside his Brooklyn home, with the slogan: "We only succeed if we leave no New Yorker behind." He said he'll conduct a "true citywide campaign," starting Monday in all five boroughs.
De Blasio said some of the billionaire mayor's policies have been good, but not for many middle-class New Yorkers. He noted that one in five city residents live in poverty.
As a candidate, he joins a crowded field of other Democratic mayoral hopefuls, such as former Comptroller William Thompson Jr., City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, former Bay Ridge Councilman Sal Albanese and current Comptroller John Liu.
"Let's be honest about where we are today: a city that in too many ways has become a tale of two cities, a place where City Hall too often has catered to the interests of the elite rather than the needs of everyday New Yorkers," de Blasio said. "So many middle-class New Yorkers have been ignored and priced out."
A native of Cambridge, Mass., de Blasio graduated from New York University and attended Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs for a master's in international affairs.
As a young man, he changed his name from Warren Wilhelm to Bill de Blasio – using his mother’s maiden name. He later explained that he had never really known his father, an alcoholic.
De Blasio worked for Mayor David Dinkins, then joined President Bill Clinton's administration as a regional housing administrator. He managed Hillary Rodham Clinton's 2000 New York campaign for the U.S. Senate. The following year, he was elected to the City Council.
As a city councilman representing Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and nearby areas, de Blasio basically represented “good government” issues, pressing for more funds for schools and libraries, an additional storefront post office, more safety requirements in the wake of a tragic crane accident in Manhattan, and more vigorous prosecution against hate crimes.
At one point, he supported developer Two Trees’ original plans to go over the Cobble Hill Historic District’s 50-foot-height limit in an apartment development on Atlantic Avenue between Clinton and Court streets, but he reversed himself after pressure from community members. Unlike many of his fellow Brooklyn City Council members, de Blasio never came out against the Atlantic Yards project, and praised its jobs and affordable housing components.
At public meetings, the diminutive borough president of Brooklyn, Marty Markowitz, would never fail to comment on de Blasio’s height, 6-foot-5 – although in a friendly ,humorous way.
Introduced Sunday by his wife, Chirlane McCray, and 15-year-old son, Dante de Blasio, the candidate told supporters he wants to be the first mayor with a child in the public school system. Daughter Chiara de Blasio, 18, also attended public school.