As he stood on the main stage at LaGuardia Community College’s Performing Arts Center in Long Island City, he focused on breaking down the foundation that created a “Tale of Two Cities,” a platform that led him to a sweeping victory in his bid for mayor last year.
Following an introduction from Katherine LaGuardia, the granddaughter of former NYC Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia, and a member of de Blasio’s Transition Committee, the former public advocate and councilman took the stage following his first wintery month in office to detail his focus for the coming term.
De Blasio thanked Governor Andrew Cuomo for his partnership and their work on developing a federal Medicaid waiver, and the city workforce for their efforts in carrying out initiatives like his recently presented Vision Zero plan and his focus for the future of the city.
“The truth is, the state of our city, as we find it today, is a tale of two cities with an inequality gap that fundamentally threatens our future,” de Blasio said. “It must not, and it will not, be ignored by your city government.”
Brooklyn Councilman Stephen Levin pointed to the mayor’s slogan and theme for the address, “One New York: Rising Together.”
“I think the mayor laid out an inclusive and ambitious agenda that is really focused on improving the quality of life and rising the tide for everybody,” Levin said. “I think that he has laid out a progressive agenda that is really setting the standard nationwide.”
With his plan to tax the wealthy - those earning more than $500,000 a year - in order to fund prekindergarten throughout the city, de Blasio professed his progressive platform with what seemed universal support from his elected peers and those in attendance.
“There are some who have taken issue with our commitment to this cause, who say income inequality is just a fact of life, and that attempts to remedy it are in fact sewing the seed of class warfare,” de Blasio said. “But we know better. We understand that allowing the income gap to stretch further isn’t just a threat to those at the bottom, but to every New Yorker.”
His calls for a minimum wage increase along with the introduction of municipal identification cards for those without legal status were welcomed with riling support.
“The mayor laid out an aggressive first-term agenda that will help ensure our city offers hope and opportunity to all of its residents,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. “He’s focused on the needs of everyday New Yorkers, and with the cost of living continuing to grow, that’s something that is sorely needed.”
Brooklyn Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna was happy to see the mayor’s focus on education, along with his promise to continue the fight in Albany for universal prekindergarten, and looked forward to a new era in New York City politics.
“I love the idea that we are moving in the direction of the STEM program and making sure that we are forthcoming with information that can prepare the future workforce,” Reyna said. “We have to see that the high school students of today have to be prepared for tomorrow.”
Councilman Peter Koo said he too is hopeful the new mayor can lay out a swift plan for universal prekindergarten, however he showed some concerns for the proposal.
“He’s on the right path,” Koo said. “I just want to see how he is going to put in universal prekindergarten, because we have to hire new teachers and bring in new facilities.”
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said she was happy to see that the mayor has proven he, “does not need a GPS to get to Queens,” and added that she was also pleased that he has not forgotten about the hardships still left behind in the borough from Hurricane Sandy.
“We are starting a hurricane relief fund and the hurricane task force and I look forward to working with the mayor,” Katz said. “ The point is that he acknowledged the fact that it’s not resolved, and there are people living every single day with the effects of the storm.”