WSN Editorial Board endorses Bill de Blasio for mayorPosted on September 16, 2013 | by WSN Editorial Board
In a sweeping upset in the democratic primary, Bill de Blasio, a former activist and New York public advocate, had a decisive victory over the previous mayoral front-runner Christine Quinn and may avoid a runoff vote for William Thompson. De Blasio’s strong progressive message has resonated with Bloomberg-weary voters, and rightly so.
While Thompson, a former president of the Board of Education, has made fixing city schools a central campaign promise, his close affiliation with the United Federation of Teachers gives de Blasio an edge as a more effective implementer of significant educational reform. And despite his achievement as comptroller — uncovering an agency backed by the Department of Homeless Services that was failing to provide millions of dollars worth of services — Thompson’s housing policies are far less developed than de Blasio’s competitive plan to provide affordable housing and food security for all New Yorkers.
New York City’s ever-increasing homeless population is becoming difficult to manage. Bloomberg’s sudden termination of short-term rent subsidy in 2011 is directly to blame. Although Thompson has promised reinstatement of the rent subsidy vouchers, de Blasio has proposed a more extensive solution. If elected, he intends to fund the creation of 100,000 low-income housing units with preferential assignment status given to the homeless.
De Blasio’s strategy for reducing inequality is largely through substantive reforms in education and the criminal justice system. De Blasio hopes to implement universal prekindergarten programs and after-school initiatives for middle school students. Instead of continuing the incessant growth rate of charter schools, he will divert funding to traditional public schools — a sector which has received little attention under Bloomberg.
De Blasio also hopes to strengthen the base of New York City’s public education system, while pruning funding and attention from charter schools. He plans to halt the practice of shutting down low-performing high schools. Instead, he plans to focus on improving these high schools by increasing funding to after-school programs and early education and decreasing an emphasis on grades and standardized test scores. The plan, he says, will ultimately level the playing field for entry into New York City’s elite high schools.
If de Blasio proceeds to the election in November, he will face Joe Lhota, the star candidate Republicans are counting on to continue Bloomberg’s business-friendly economic policies. Those policies could put corporate interests above the public’s interest, intensifying the wealth and power gap between the rich and poor. Lhota’s policies will be an extension of the Bloomberg years — ineffectual social policies and a neglect for the tens of thousands of New Yorkers falling below the poverty line. De Blasio will take New York in a new direction to champion social and economic reform.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Sept. 16 print edition. Email the WSN Editorial Board at edit firstname.lastname@example.org.