Bill de Blasio was born (Warren Wilhem Jr. ) on May 8, 1961 in Manhattan and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is the third son of Maria Angela and Warren Wilhelm. His mother was of Italian heritage, and his father was of German, English, French and Sots-Irish ancestry. His mother served in the Office of War Information during World War II and authored a book titled “The Other Italy: The Italian Resistance in World War II”. His father served in the US during WWII where he lost his left foot and lower leg to a grenade. His father died by suicide while suffering from lung cancer in 1979. de Blasio graduated from New York University and Columbia University. In 1994 he married activist and poet Chirlane McCray. They honeymooned in Cuba in violation of A US travel ban. The couple has children.
In 1984 de Blasio worked for the Urban Fellows Program in the New York City Department of Juvenile Justice. In 1987, shortly after completing graduate school at Columbia, he was hired as a political organizer by the Quixote Center in Maryland. In 1988 he traveled to Nicaragua to help distribute food and medicine during the Nicaraguan Revolution. He was ardent supporter of the ruling socialist government (The Sandinista National Liberation Front). After returning to the US, he continued to support the Sandinista political party. He was introduced to city politics in 1989 when he worked as a volunteer for David Dinklins’ mayoral campaign. In 1990 he described himself as an advocate for democratic socialism. In 1994 he served briefly as a campaign manager for US Representative Charles Rangel and Hillary Clintons’ run for the US Senate. In 1997 he served as a regional director for the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Under Bill Clinton. Just like the future NY governor Cuomo. He started his career as an elected official on the New York City Council, representing the 39th district in Brooklyn from 2002-2009. After serving as public advocate, he ran as a Democrat and was elected mayor of New York City 2013 and was reelected in 2017.
De Blasio’s policy initiatives include de-escalation training for police officers, reduced prosecutions for cannabis possession, implementation of police body cameras and ending the pot 9/11 surveillance program of Muslim residents. In his first term, he implemented free universal Pre-K in the city. He has supported socially liberal and progressive policies in regard to the city’s economy, urban planning, public education, police relations and privatization. He helped pass the Gender-Based Discrimination Protection Law to protect transgender New Yorkers, and passed the Democratic Partnership Recognition Law to ensure that same-sex couples in a legal partnership could enjoy the same legal benefits as heterosexual couples in NYC. He has been instrumental in getting sick leave expanded for his NYC residents. A key focus as mayor of NYC has been to build more affordable housing. The plan is to invite developers to build up local streets in exchange for more units of affordable housing, they will invest in new trees, parks, sidewalks, schools, shops and restaurants to lead to better services. In 2019 he announce his support for the Green New Deal which was against glass and steel skyscrapers. In regards to NYPD relations, he has opposed the Stop and Frisk policy, he has also been in favor of defunding and has spoke out against many police actions to quell riots. To address transportation issues he created more bus rapid transit routes and a “Vision Zero” initiative to reduce traffic-related deaths in the city, he also has required helmets and licenses for cyclists. During his tenure expenditures have ballooned three times as fast as the rate of inflation.
On MAy 16, 2019 de Blasio announce that he would seek the Democratic nomination for President. During his campaign he expressed support for increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. He was for a peace settlement with Afganistan. He advocated a robot tax and proposed making large corporations responsible for 5 years of income tax from jobs that are automated anyway. He attempted to position himself as a progressive, but his campaign failed to gain traction. He did not qualify for Democratic primary debates in September and October. After failing to qualify for the third round of primary debates he announced suspension of his campaign and endorsed Bernie Sanders.
De Blasio’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic has been criticized by many as being insufficient and lacking focus. He like, many other politicians underestimated the lethality of the virus. Initially he told people if they were not sick to go about there lives as normal. He refused to close schools and businesses. Now that he has agreed to the closures, he is adopting draconian measures. He has even taken to welding shut gates to city parks to prevent people from walking through them. He made one statement that he would pull beach goers out of the water if they enter without permission. He has only started opening up his city after the George Floyd protests and riots made the closures academic. During the riots his responses and use of resources has been seen as ineffective. Many businesses have been destroyed and burned out. Looting has been rampant and the number of lethal shootings has skyrocketed. But he has still been seen as prejudiced against religious ceremonies and gatherings and political rallies and favored protests as being necessary to protect our constitutional rights.
De Blasiois is widely unpopular in NYC. Finding one single reason for this has been difficult. Many of his issues seem to be one of style. He comes off as sanctimonious, arrogant, uncaring and stubborn. He lacks charisma and has a poor relationship with the press. He has a reputation for tardiness and is frequently condescending. He has a poor working relationship with the NYPD, he is viewed as being no supportive by many police officers. He dropped a groundhog during groundhog day and likely caused his death. He manages to do and say the wrong thing at the wrong time. He manages to wrong side of every decision. He is also viewed as being one of the worst mayors in NYC history. Whether these views and feelings are justified are uncertain. But what remains is that he is still the mayor in that city and the residents have to find a way to work with him to improve their situation.