With 24 candidates competing for the Democratic nomination for President, Americans have an overabundance of choices. All of those running would be an improvement over Donald Trump. Several are committed public servants with good ideas for the country. But only one candidate has a proven ability to govern and deliver progressive change.
That candidate is our mayor, Bill de Blasio. In New York City, a global city and a microcosm of this nation, he has shouldered huge responsibilities and consistently achieved results we can be proud of.
I first got to know then-Public Advocate de Blasio on a community leadership delegation trip to Israel. I was struck by Bill’s uncompromising character and his focus on how to best help people. I had just been elected Flatbush district leader, the new kid on the political block, and his principled and effective leadership made a deep impression.
When de Blasio first ran for mayor as an insurgent, anti-establishment candidate, pundits wrote him off. But he knew something they didn’t: The neighborhoods that I represent were suffering. While flashy candidates were busy pleasing special wealthy interests groups, de Blasio kept it real. He stood up against the 1%, wealthy developers, aggressive policing, and the socio-economic inequities that divided New Yorkers into a “tale of two cities.”
Poor and working-class New Yorkers were still struggling to find quality jobs, housing and education as the financial and real estate industries returned to pre-recession “good times.” I know this because I was unemployed and broke, with no health-care insurance. All around me, black and brown youth were being targeted by overly aggressive policing such as Bloomberg’s unconstitutional stop-and-frisk.
After 20 years of Giuliani and then Bloomberg governments by and for the 1%, Mayor de Blasio then focused on improving the lives of all, especially marginalized communities such as my very own, the Haitian community.
My appreciation of the mayor grew after witnessing first-hand his stance against racial profiling and stop-and-frisk. At the time this also went against the conventional wisdom, but it was the right thing to do. It changed the lives of thousands of New Yorkers.
The launch of universal pre-k was the first step in bringing equity to early educational development, giving every child an equal start regardless of their background or what language they speak at home.
He championed the $15 per hour minimum wage and paid sick days long before these ideas became mainstream. He made minority- and women-owned businesses a priority and recently launched a universal health-care plan for all New Yorkers, serving as a national model on economic justice.
Parts of my district have some of the highest eviction rates in the city. The mayor knew how hard it was for tenants, so he froze rents for two consecutive years and began providing legal services for tenants in eviction courts.
De Blasio would be the first to say that there is still more to be done to improve life for working New Yorkers, but his track record of progressive accomplishment is unparalleled.
Imagine if these initiatives were a reality across this country, where poverty and inequality remain far too prevalent.
At every step, critics claimed that de Blasio’s policies would lead to the downfall of our city. But here’s a reality check for Trump, Rupert Murdoch and anyone else who wants to claim that our city has gotten worse: Crime is at a record low, while jobs are at an all time high.
Americans need a president who has real-world executive experience and a proven ability to deliver changes. Mayor de Blasio has stood on the side of the powerless against the powerful time and time again.
I, a black woman, a Haitian-American, a union baby, a former public school teacher and now a public leader, am proud to stand with him.