Bill de Blasio, the 109th mayor of New York City, is a New Yorker born and raised. Throughout his 58 years, he hasn’t ventured too far from home. He even stayed local for college — New York University for his undergraduate degree and Columbia University for his master’s degree.
Since he kicked off his political career, he has consistently made it a priority to support and embody the working class. To show he’s just like everyone else, he insists on taking a car to work out at a YMCA in Park Slope, Brooklyn — 11 miles from his Upper East Side residence. (To some, this effort shows that he is genuine, but others see it as an unnecessary toll on the environment.)
If elected president, de Blasio vows to continue to prioritize policies that will help the working people. “As president, I will take on the wealthy,” de Blasio said in his announcement video. “I will take on the big corporations. I will not rest until this government serves working people. As mayor of the largest city in America, I’ve done just that.”
1. Bill de Blasio on Higher Education
- Free college
De Blasio has yet to establish a strong higher education platform. However, his actions in the past suggest he would support measures to make college much more affordable. In 2017, after Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed the “Excelsior Scholarship,” which would make New York state public colleges tuition-free for many students, de Blasio announced a program to allocate money to New York City children’s savings accounts, which they could eventually use for all college costs — including books and transportation — at both private and public New York colleges.
“The steep cost of higher education has left too many New Yorkers unable to afford a college degree. Creating a savings account early in life dramatically increases the likelihood of a child going to college, so we’re going to help New York City families do just that,” he said in a statement. “With this initiative, every child — regardless of their family’s economic status — will have a fighting chance to access higher education.”
- Student loans
De Blasio does not yet have a strong solution for student loan debt, but he recognizes it as a crushing issue that is in need of solving. In a 2018 report, he identified three key areas for policy focus. Largely, he found that there is a need to promote community colleges, which are typically much cheaper than four-year institutions. And he identified the need to consider the struggles experienced by non-traditional, minority and low-income students, who are a growing population.
“Innovative solutions are needed to help more vulnerable students — older students, students of color, and students from low-income backgrounds — complete their degrees, and in fewer years, to reduce debt accumulation and ensure these students receive a positive return on their investment in higher education,” his report states.
2. Bill de Blasio on Social Justice
- Income Inequality
Throughout his time as mayor, de Blasio has made income inequality a key talking point. He has suggested a tax on the wealthy that would fund pre-K programs throughout New York City, and he has advocated for a “millionaire” tax to fix the subway and allow low-income individuals to ride for half the cost. Some, but not all, of his policy ideas have been enacted.
He is particularly proud to be the mayor who brought $15 dollar minimum wage and paid sick leave to New York City workers, and all signs point that, if elected president, he would attempt to enact those policies nationally.
In his 2019 State of the City address, de Blasio excited the crowd by saying: “Brothers and sisters, there’s plenty of money in the world; plenty of money in this city. It’s just in the wrong hands. You deserve a city that gives you the share of prosperity that you’ve earned.”
- LGBT Rights
De Blasio is a staunch supporter of LGBT rights, and he has seen tremendous support from the LGBT community. When he was running for mayor in 2013, he garnered a higher percentage of the LGBT vote than his competitor Christine Quinn, who would have been the first woman and openly gay mayor of New York City.
Throughout his time as mayor, de Blasio has taken action to expand rights for LGBT individuals. He has helped LGBT individuals receive adequate health care and has supported legislation that would help LGBT-owned businesses, among other things.
Nearly every June, he can be found marching in New York City’s pride parade. Before the 2018 parade, he invited everyone to join him by tweeting: “New York City is the place where the LGBTQ rights movement was born. Join us in the West Village for the annual #Pride March!”
- Criminal Justice
Since de Blasio assumed New York City’s highest office, violent crime rates, murder rates and the overall prison population in the city have dropped significantly. Additionally, de Blasio helped put an end to the controversial stop-and-frisk program, in which police officers stopped and searched thousands of innocent, mostly black and Hispanic, people each year. Under de Blasio, crime rates in New York City have dropped steadily, giving him factual support when he refers to New York City as “[t]he safest big city in America.”
3. Bill de Blasio on the Environment
De Blasio considers himself a supporter of the fight against climate change. And more often than not, his actions back up his words. In 2017, after President Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement, de Blasio filed an executive order for New York City to continue to adhere to the principles set by the agreement.
More recently, de Blasio spoke at a rally supporting New York City’s “Green New Deal,” which is considered by some to be “largest single legislative mandate to reduce carbon emissions in the world.” During his speech, which took place on the front steps of a New York City Trump building, de Blasio called the president out and ordered him to reduce the emissions coming from his building. “It doesn’t matter who you are, even the president of the United States, you have to obey the laws of New York City,” de Blasio said. He caught flack afterwards, however, because, reportedly, the City Council had already passed its “Green New Deal,” and de Blasio hadn’t signed it yet.
4. Bill de Blasio on Immigration
All evidence points to de Blasio being pro immigration. He strongly opposes Trump’s “racist” border wall, and considers New York City a sanctuary city. And recently, de Blasio supported health care for all, including undocumented immigrants. Largely, de Blasio embraces immigrants instead of considering them as a threat.
“More immigrants are living in New York City today than at any other time in the last century,” he tweeted. “We’re safer and more prosperous than ever.”
5. Bill de Blasio on Marijuana
Throughout his time as mayor, de Blasio has been back and forth on marijauna legalization. After opposing legalization for the majority of his mayorship, de Blasio changed his mind in December of 2018. Recently, however, de Blasio essentially ignored a bill that would prohibit New York City employers from requiring drug tests for marijuana. He didn’t veto the bill, but he didn’t sign it either. The law was approved without his name on it.
6. Bill de Blasio on Gun Control
De Blasio is a strong proponent of gun control. Under his leadership, New York City has maintained some of the strictest gun control laws in the United States. The stated goals of the Mayor’s Office to Prevent Gun Violence are to “coordinate the city’s various anti-gun violence initiatives, amplify community-based intervention and prevention services, and introduce technological solutions to prevent gun violence to create safe, empowered and interconnected communities in New York City.”
7. Bill de Blasio on Net Neutrality
Like many of his Democratic competitors, de Blasio is a supporter of net neutrality. He believes everyone should have access to a free and open internet where they can express their ideas, opinions and creations.
In 2018, he led a group of mayors in a pledge to protect net neutrality. Together, the mayor’s vowed to not let their cities contract with internet service providers that don’t adhere to net neutrality principles.
“With #NetNeutrality, the people have an equal say over the internet – and won’t be beholden to the will of wealthy corporations,” de Blasio tweeted. “I’m joining with mayors across the country because the rights of the people are on the line.”
News & Content Manager
Jackson Schroeder is a graduate of Ohio University with a B.A. in Journalism from the E.W. Scripps School. He is originally from Savannah, Georgia. Jackson has covered a wide range of topics, including sustainability, technology, sports, culture, travel, and music. He plays bass and guitar, and enjoys playing and listening to live music in his free time.