In a mayoral election where many of the democratic candidates share very similar positions, it may be hard to distinguish who will be the best Mayor. But my gut tells me that he is the best for mayor because of his stances on education and criminal justice reform — two important factors in addressing income inequality.
My number one issue in this race is improving police oversight. Right now, after the federal court ruling deeming the way that Stop, Question, and Frisks are conducted in NYC as unconstitutional, the incoming Mayor will have the momentum and political window to make real reform to the policing practices of the city. Candidate John Liu has always taken a hard stand against Stop, Question, and Frisk and I respect that, but de Blasio is more practical in his opposition. He acknowledges that the policy is central to policing in New York but he also recognizes that the way officers are conducting stops is a form of racial profiling. In the past, de Blasio has also used his office to investigate the tactic of Stop, Question, and Frisk before the Floyd vs. New York City ruling. Christine Quinn, on the other hand, repeatedly emphasizes that racial profiling is already illegal and won't support a racial profiling bill even though the ruling found that it is common place for an officer to rely on subconscious racial biases when deeming something or someone as suspicious.
De Blasio knows that more needs to be done to revamp the system and he supports the policies that will increase the effectiveness of oversight in the city such as an inspector general, a specific racial profiling bill with teeth, and a new police commissioner.
He also has supported the statewide movement to reduce the number of lower level drug arrests. De Blasio promoted the strengthening of the Civilian Complaint Review Board (the official but ineffective and disempowered current oversight agency that investigations complaints of police misconduct) by introducing legislation so the agency could have real prosecutorial power.
As an aide to David Dinkins, he helped pass the “Safe Streets, Safe City” initiative which contributed to the increase of NYPD officers on the street and ultimately helped reverse a high trend of violent crime which former Mayor Giuliani and Mayor Bloomberg benefited from. As de Blasio said in the debate hosted by the Campaign Public Finance Board, everyone, including the NYPD, will benefit from better police community relations. These reforms will make that goal possible by creating safer streets, better trained officers, and greater transparency.
De Blasio also cares about combating income inequality by strengthening New York City’s education system. He believes that instead of giving subsidies to corporations, that money could have gone to financing the education of CUNY students who actually need financial assistance. His Robin Hood approach to full-day pre-k and after school for middle schools is admirable. He knows that an intervention in the education of students has more of an impact when done at these early stages in the student’s life. As public advocate, de Blasio has prioritized facilitating parent involvement in the education system, better government transparency and effectiveness, and the protection of marginalized communities.
On a more sentimental level, de Blasio is a lot more personable than the other candidates. He is an eloquent and powerful public speaker. In the two live debates that I have seen, he remained cool, calm, and collected without appearing complacent — despite the barrage of attacks from the other candidates. He was playful without being a clown. Most importantly, he is sincere.
The new mayor will be making tough decisions for New Yorkers but he should not let those difficulties harden his spirit or disconnect him from the people. From what I know and have seen of de Blasio, I am confident that he will surpass even my expectations.