Bill de Blasio (born Warren Wilhelm, Jr., May 8, 1961) is an American politician currently serving as the 109th mayor of New York City. From 2010 to 2013, he held the citywide office of New York City Public Advocate, serving as an ombudsman between the electorate and the city government. He formerly served as a New York City Council member, representing the 39th District in Brooklyn. De Blasio, the Democratic Party nominee for mayor of New York City in the 2013 election, defeated RepublicanJoe Lhota with more than 73 percent of the vote. De Blasio is the first Democratic mayor of the city since David Dinkins was in office from 1990 to 1993.
He ran for mayor promising to end stop and frisk and heal bitter relations between the New York Police Department and New Yorkers of color. His tenure has seen a spike in anti-police protests and disaffection with law enforcement, and he has been charged by the NYPD union with putting the interests of protesters above those of the police. He initiated new de-escalation training for officers, reduced marijuana prosecutions, and oversaw the beginning of body cameras worn by police. De Blasio approved a $41 million settlement for the five men whose convictions in the 1989 Central Park jogger case were overturned and ended a post-9/11 surveillance program to spy on Muslim New Yorkers.
Life and Career[edit | edit source]
Bill de Blasio was born on May 8, 1961 in Manhattan, New York, the third son of Warren Wilhelm and Maria de Blasio. His father was of German ancestry; his paternal grandfather is the author, Donald Wilhelm, and his maternal grandparents were Italian immigrants: his grandfather, Giovanni de Blasio, was from the city of Sant'Agata de' Goti, Benevento, and his grandmother, Anna Briganti, was from Grassano, Matera.
De Blasio was raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Although he was baptized Catholic, de Blasio did not practice. He was raised to speak Italian as well. In 1968, his father left home, and his parents divorced shortly after that. He eventually adopted his mother's family name of de Blasio because his father was largely absent, and he wanted to embrace his Italian heritage. In 1983, he changed his legal name to Warren de Blasio-Wilhelm. In the early 1980's, he received a B.A. from New York University, majoring in metropolitan studies, a program in urban studies, and received a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs; in 1981, he was a Harry S. Truman Scholar. His first post-college job was part of the Urban Fellows Program for the New York City Department of Juvenile Justice in 1984. In 1987, shortly after completing graduate school at Columbia, he was hired to work as a political organizer by the Quixote Center in Maryland. In 1988, he traveled with the Center to Nicaragua for 10 days to help distribute food and medicine during the Nicaraguan Revolution; he was an ardent supporter of the ruling socialist government. After returning to New York City, he moved there and worked for a nonprofit organization focused on improving health care in Central America. He continued to support the Sandinistas in his spare time.
City Politics [edit | edit source]
De Blasio's introduction to city politics came in 1989, when he worked as a volunteer coordinator for David Dinkins' mayoral campaign, serving as an aide in City Hall. U.S. Representative Charlie Rangel tapped de Blasio to be his campaign manager for his successful 1994 re-election bid. In 1997, he was appointed to serve as the regional director for the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development for New York and New Jersey under Bill Clinton. In 1999, he was elected a member of Community School Board 15. The following year, in 2000, he served as campaign manager for Hillary Rodham Clinton's successful Senate bid.
In 2001, de Blasio ran for the New York City Council's 39th district, which includes Brooklyn neighborhoods. He won the crowded primary election as a Democrat. In 2003, he won re-election with 72% of the vote; in 2005, he was re-elected to a third term with 83% of the vote. He passed legislation to prevent landlord discrimination against tenants. In November 2008, he announced his candidacy for New York City Public Advocate. On September 15, 2009, he came in first in the primary and defeated the Republican in the general election on November 3, 2009. He was inaugurated as New York City's third Public Advocate on January 1, 2010. He challenged the administration of Mayor Bloomberg, specifically criticizing his homelessness and education policies.
On January 27, 2013, de Blasio announced his candidacy for Mayor of New York in the fall election. He gained media attention on July 10, 2013, during the campaign when he and a dozen others were arrested while protesting the closing of Long Island College Hospital. On September 16, 2013, the second-place finisher conceded. In the general election, de Blasio won in a landslide, and he was sworn into office as the Mayor of New York on January 1, 2014.
Mayor of New York[edit | edit source]
In the first few weeks of his mayorship, New York City was struck by a series of snowstorms. In July 2014, de Blasio signed a bill that created municipal identification cards for all residents regardless of their immigration status, helping them secure access to city services. Following the December 20, 2014 deaths of two NYPD officers in execution style, numerous police unions issued statements blaming de Blasio for their deaths and police officers turned their backs to the mayor when he visited the hospital where the bodies were taken. De Blasio also dealt with the aftermath of New York City protests in 2014-15 after the deaths of unarmed African Americans by police officers.
Personal Life[edit | edit source]
In 1991, he met his wife, activist, and poet, Chirlane I. McCray, while they both worked for Mayor Dinkins' administration. At the time, de Blasio was an aide to a deputy mayor and McCray was a speechwriter. They were married in 1994 in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. They lived in Park Slope, Brooklyn before moving into Gracie Mansion in 2014, the traditional residence of New York City mayors.
Children[edit | edit source]
- Dante de Blasio, a graduate of Brooklyn Technical High School and Yale University attendee
- Chiara de Blasio, a student at Santa Clara University in California.