Rumor has it that Bill de Blasio will be announcing a run for president some time next week and the response I’ve seen has been all snark and chortles, even from the left. I get it — in such a crowded field, another candidate almost seems absurd on its face at this point. Another issue is that de Blasio is not a particularly popular mayor here in New York City, which invites jokes that we residents are trying to export him to the rest of the country.
I’ve lived in New York City since 1999 so I’ve seen Giuliani, Bloomberg and de Blasio. By far, de Blasio has been the best and most progressive mayor we’ve had since I’ve been here. His signature accomplishments have touched me personally. Just before our son was old enough to enter the public school system, de Blasio managed to provide universal public pre-K. This helped our son start his education earlier and saved us potentially tens of thousands of dollars. Yes, private programs cost that much here and they are overbooked, year after year.
Under Giuliani and Bloomberg, the police were ever-present in city life and the administrations defended the practice of police officers randomly stopping people (well, not all people in practice) and searching them for contraband. We were told, as I was reminded in a Twitter exchange with fellow New Yorker that allowing the police to stop and search people at the slightest suspicion was all that stood between us and a return to the high levels of street crime seen from the 1970s through the early 1990s. Mayor de Blasio put an end to stop and frisk policing and the city still grows safer each year.
Mayor de Blasio has acted out of concern for the health of city workers, for a higher minimum wage and for tenant rights. If he does join the presidential race, he’d be on the left side of the scale and has a record as a progressive mayor in a city that’s larger than a lot of states to prove it.
He’s unlikely to win, but so are they all. He has enemies in the party who are ready to kneecap him, starting with our governor Andrew Cuomo. But he deserves serious consideration rather than snickers, by any voter who counts themselves progressive.