Bill de Blasio on his political career, Andrew Cuomo and Amazon

At a recent lecture, the former mayor of New York City spoke about potential plans for his future in politics, his relationship with former governor Andrew Cuomo and a failed Amazon construction project.


Qianshan Weng

Bill de Blasio answers questions at an event organized by NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. (Qianshan Weng for WSN)

Cora Snow, Deputy News Editor

Bill de Blasio, the former mayor of New York City who now teaches part-time at NYU, spoke to students and faculty about his failed attempt to nix entrance exams at competitive New York City high schools, his future in politics and the resignation of former New York governor Andrew Cuomo. The event was a part of his lecture series at NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, where he is currently a distinguished visiting professor and the Marnold Visiting Fellow.

De Blasio said that although he does not have any current plans to run for office, he is open to continuing his career in public service. He is reportedly lobbying to become President Joe Biden’s next labor secretary as the current labor secretary, Marty Walsh, is leaving the cabinet to head the National Hockey League Players’ Association.

“I would love to be back in public service,” the former mayor said. “But it takes many forms, thank god, that are not just elected. ’Cause I’ve done the elected thing, maybe there’s another opportunity.”

De Blasio is no stranger to running for elected office, having pursued multiple campaigns for federal and state government positions during his political career. He had a short-lived presidential campaign in the 2020 election, dropping out of the race after only a few months. His campaign for Congress last year met a similar fate, ending just two months after it started.

Later in the lecture, de Blasio answered a question about Andrew Cuomo, whom he worked with before Cuomo resigned as governor in 2021. His resignation followed multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and a cover-up of COVID-19 death rates in New York nursing homes.

“Part of what’s made me so upset was what could’ve been, and then seeing what the effect, in my view, of power was on him,” de Blasio said. “I felt he was telling me less truth with every passing year.” 

De Blasio also spoke about his failed attempt to remove entrance exams for elite New York City high schools, such as Stuyvesant High School in Tribeca. In June 2019, he proposed a system that would automatically offer admission to top New York City middle school students in response to low acceptance rates of Black and Latino students. Asian American advocacy groups protested the bill, arguing that it would negatively impact low-income Asian students, who made up the majority of Stuyvesant’s student body. 

“If we had gone and listened to everyone first, we probably would have seen that our solution was the wrong solution,” de Blasio said. “The most likely things we would have done is say, ‘There’s no path, let’s move on to another topic.’”

One attendee asked de Blasio about Amazon’s since-abandoned plans to build a headquarters in Long Island City, which he lobbied for in 2018. De Blasio said that he thinks an Amazon headquarters would have brought significant tax revenue and new jobs to the city, and that the project’s downfall came in part due to communication issues stemming from an Amazon nondisclosure agreement. The company was considering other cities for a new headquarters at the time, and had officials involved in the potential projects sign an NDA requiring them to keep details of the construction project from the public and other politicians until finalized.

“I did not expect to be royally stabbed in the back, after we had made a full, total agreement with them. So now I’m like, ‘Wow, Amazon really sucks,’” de Blasio said. “What I should have done was say, ‘OK, I really do want those things, I’m going to fight for these things, but not with Amazon’s rules.’”

Contact Cora Snow at [email protected].