Democrats and Labor Leaders Sing Bill de Blasio’s Praises After State of the City

Mayor Bill de Blasio today. (Photo: Getty)

Mayor Bill de Blasio today. (Photo: Getty)

Top Democrats and organized labor celebrated Mayor Bill de Blasio’s State of the City address this afternoon, hailing the new mayor’s repeated calls for more affordable housing, expanded science education and a tax hike to fund universal prekindergarten. 

Little of Mr. de Blasio’s speech actually broke new ground–the new mayor stuck mainly to the campaign themes that he repeated in his victory and inaugural addresses–but Democrats were more than happy to offer praise.

“New Yorkers want our government to focus on reducing economic inequality and making New York a place we can all afford to live in, and that’s exactly what Mayor de Blasio is doing,” said Public Advocate Tish James in a statement. “I commend the Mayor for using his first State of the City address to drive an economic and social justice agenda forward.”

“I am particularly excited to work with Mayor de Blasio on expanding affordable housing and caring for homeless families,” she continued. “With his pledge to build 200,000 new affordable housing units, we are one step closer to a city where working families aren’t priced out of their own neighborhoods.”

Comptroller Scott Stringer raved to reporters at LaGuardia Community College, where Mr. de Blasio delivered the speech without the bells and whistles of many of his predecessor’s–Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s–addresses.

“Loved the optics. But what I loved better was the message: The message is 200,000 affordable housing units, pre-K for all, the ability to lift everybody up in this city. These are worthy goals. Now the question becomes, starting later in this week, how are we going to pay for this?” he said. “But today this is exactly what I wanted to hear about as an elected official and as a parent. These are the issues that will matter for the city.”

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, another close de Blasio ally, also applauded the speech, telling reporters there was not a single thing that she disagreed with in the remarks.

“It’s really great and I think that people really felt the power of his words in that we need to get to work,” she said, also drawing a contrast to the previous mayor. “To me it’s a real shift. This is about a moral obligation we have in the City of New York to help everyone … This is about changing the whole ideology and perspective that we need to all work together to bring New York City to the next level.”

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams was among the many newly elected officials who were quick with their own statement of praise for the new mayor. 

“I have great optimism for the state of our city in 2014, and that was reaffirmed in the remarks Mayor de Blasio made during his inaugural State of the City address,” Mr. Adams said. “Mayor de Blasio laid out a number of proposals in his speech that I plan to work with City Hall to support and implement, including constructing and preserving quality affordable housing, training our high school and CUNY students for STEM and health care-oriented careers, addressing and prioritizing the health care issues of our communities and accelerating recovery efforts from Superstorm Sandy.”

Mr. de Blasio’s labor allies also heaped praise upon him after his speech. Vincent Alvarez, the president of the Central Labor Council, was glad that Mr. de Blasio name-checked his signature campaign proposal, a tax hike to fund universal prekindergarten. 

“I applaud Mayor de Blasio’s commitment to ending the staggering income disparities that have plagued our city for far too long,” he said. “Initiatives like the city’s plan to fund local universal pre-K and after school programs, the expansion of Paid Sick Leave and the protection of our healthcare facilities, and the expansion of workforce development opportunities signal a real step toward creating a fairer, more balanced, and more equitable New York City for all working families.”

Even Republican Councilman Eric Ulrich, who represents Queens, seemed reluctant to criticize the new mayor during what many are treating as his honeymoon period.

“I thought it was a very good speech overall. I certainly appreciated the fact that he made Sandy recovery a priority and included it as part of his first State of the City address. I liked the fact that he talked about creating more local job in New York City. I agree with him certainly on the need to build more affordable housing throughout the five boroughs,” said Mr. Ulrich, who said that he will remain open-minded, even on issues where his disagrees with the mayor, like expanded paid sick leave legislation and tax hikes. “Most of the time, people like me are going to agree with him. But when we disagree, we will disagree, but we will not become disagreeable.”

Asked whether he was satisfied with the level of specificity in Mr. de Blasio’s speech, he added, “He’s not here to satisfy me. The devil’s always in the details. And I’m eager to learn what those details are.”