New York City Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio has captured the attention of both constituents and political rivals by campaigning against racial profiling by the police and being a vocal proponent of fiscal egalitarianism in the country's wealthiest city. However, there are several aspects of the City Hall hopeful’s personal life that remain unknown to many New Yorkers.
The New York Yankees have historically kept a tight grip on City Hall, claiming numerous mayors as tried-and-true pinstripes fans, but the mayoral candidate with strong chances of winning the seat confessed to being a devout Boston Red Sox fan earlier this year. Although de Blasio was born in Manhattan and spent an extensive amount of his academic and professional life in New York City, the son of Italian immigrants was raised in Cambridge, Mass. and continues to support his childhood team.
Many politicians with high prospects of running for office take pride in name recognition and brand themselves by repetitively using a particular part of their name for marketing slogan. De Blasio, on the other hand, has changed his name three times, in a way that represents his personal and familial evolution. The mayoral hopeful was born Warren Wilhelm, Jr. in 1961, legally changed his name to Warren de Blasio-Wilhelm in 1983, and changed it again in 2002 to Bill de Blasio.
Most candidates who run for political posts in the post-Cold War United States avoid being associated with groups that promote alternative, non-traditional schools of political thought, but de Blasio has distinguished himself for his left-leaning outlook. The Democratic candidate, who distributed food and medical supplies to war victims for 10 days during the Nicaraguan Revolution, was a stalwart supporter of the democratic socialist Sandinista movement that ousted the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza. His penchant for promoting higher taxation of the upper class in New York City and for wanting to invest more money in accessible health care and education has singled him out as a populist and a progressive within the race.
De Blasio is married to black activist and poet Chirlane McCray, whom he met while campaigning for the administration of former New York City Mayor David Dinkins. They have two children, Dante (who was featured in one of the campaign's advertisements) and Chiara. Earlier this month, Mayor Michael Bloomberg called de Blasio’s campaign video featuring his son “racist.”
The Democratic mayoral candidate revealed in July that he supports the mitigation of legal consequences for medical and recreational marijuana usage. He cited the high number of young minorities who are roped into unfair criminal charges even if they are consuming or are in possession of small amounts of the controlled substance. De Blasio supports open policies that take a more progressive approach to marijuana legislation — the kind of approach City Hall has traditionally been against.