New Yorkers want change. After 12 years of Michael Bloomberg, they are not interested in a mayor who will take Bloomberg’s policies and run with them.
In a poll released by Penn Schoen Berland, 55% of Democrats, and 66% of Republicans approved of Bloomberg’s performance as mayor, but those numbers are not indicative of the way New Yorkers plan to vote. Another survey published by Marist College showed 68% of registered voters want the city to move “in a different direction.”
Native New Yorker Lawrence Rotundo feels it is “time for a change.” Rotundo criticized “nonsensical” laws passed by Bloomberg like the trans fats ban, and the “stupid” soda law in which Bloomberg tried to ban the sale of sodas bigger than 16 ounces. The nanny-state laws passed by the billionaire mayor brought national attention to New York City politics, but one issue important to millennials has more immediate implications for this year's election: the growing income inequality in New York that allows the rich to live in luxury, while the poor struggle to find daily necessities.
"You’re either really rich here or you’re under poverty. There’s not quite a middle anymore,” said Rotundo, a recreational therapist who is one of the lucky ones. He is a graduate of Ithaca College who is actually employed in a position he went to school for. Rotundo is one of just 38% of college graduates who have a job that requires a degree. As New Yorkers search for a new mayor, the prevalent desire is to bridge the gap that Rotundo claims turned New York into “an elitist city.”
Speaking at CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism, Democratic nominee Bill de Blasio claimed New York is “on the wrong path and it needs to be reversed immediately.” He also claimed, “Bloomberg policies, if continued, would not allow the city to thrive.”
As the New York Daily News reported, the owner of a house in Brooklyn's wealthy Park Slope neighborhood valued at more than $2 million pays more than $700 less in property taxes than a homeowner in one of the poorest sections of Brooklyn. This points to a general trend of homes in rich New York being undervalued and charged less in property taxes, while homes in poor neighborhoods are overvalued and overcharged. Property taxes have grown more than 100% since 2002, the year Bloomberg first stepped into City Hall.
Homeowners aren’t the only ones who are feeling the burn. Rental rates in metro New York cost on average $3,000, more than double the national average. The cost of living is why many millennials in New York find themselves living in a constant state of financial precarity. One young New Yorker sees the picture crystal clear, and like many friends, she works multiple jobs in order to keep herself in the black.
Erin Millennial, the creator of a blog that gives advice to millennials who are finding it hard to survive, believes “people feel there is this general need to have a way to make things more accessible, no matter your financial situation.” Part of the solution may come in the form of a tax hike for New Yorkers making more than $500,000 a year. Under de Blasio’s plan, the wealthy in New York will see their taxes raised to 4.3%.
New York is home to the second highest number of millionaires in the entire world, trailing only Tokyo. Such a plan could alleviate the strain on millennials who are part of a city that has the highest income inequality rate of the 30 biggest cities in the United States.
All millennials are asking for is a bigger piece of the pie, so they don’t have to survive off of next to nothing. Although the economic situation has gotten worse, people from all over the world will still come to New York to take a bite of the Big Apple. All they need is a little bit of help.