Mayor Bill de Blasio is finally getting a reality check on what exactly it means to be mayor, according to the Queens County party boss—and starting to realize “more now than ever before” the challenges that come with the job.
That’s Congressman Joseph Crowley told the Observer after an unrelated press conference in Astoria. The mayor and the Queens leaderinitially butted heads in the 2013 race for the next Speaker of the City Council when he was outflanked by the mayor.
De Blasio backed now Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito—who will be term-limited next year—while Crowley and his loyal members of the Queens delegation endorsed Manhattan Councilman Dan Garodnick. But the two have since made a kind of peace.
As the mayor battles multiple ongoing investigations of his administration and struggles to advance his affordable housing plan, address the homelessness crisis in the city and fend off criticism over his frequent vacations this summer, among other issues, Crowley says de Blasio is starting to understand the challenges that come with the city’s top job.
“I think being mayor of New York is a very, very difficult job and I think Mayor de Blasio realized that maybe more now than ever before and that what I’m hopeful for is that our city continues to thrive economically and move forward,” Crowley said.
Crowley said the city has many issues before it and hopes the mayor is ready to step up and solve them.
“There’s a lot of issues that are going to need to be addressed and my hope is the mayor can address those issues,” Crowley continued. “But quite frankly, that’s next year. This year, I’m focusing on this year’s elections, not next year’s elections.”
Indeed, Crowley says he’s keeping his focus on the upcoming Sept. 13 state primaries and the general election in November—he would not weigh in on whether he would endorse de Blasio in the event that Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. or Comptroller Scott Stringer—rumored potential mayoral candidates who may challenge the mayor in the 2017 Democratic primary.
“We’re focused on the election for state Assembly, state Senate, the Congress and the presidency of the United States and I’ll get to next year when next year comes around,” Crowley said.
And don’t expect him to take a side in the long-running feud between the mayor and Gov. Andrew Cuomo: he’s staying out of it.
“I work with all the elected officials, both citywide and statewide to provide for the needs of my constituency,” Crowley said.
He wouldn’t comment on the upcoming 2017 City Council speaker race, either. Given that the ascension of the Progressive Caucus—including in parts of Queens—shut him out of the decision in the 2013 race, next year’s election may be his opportunity to play a role in picking her successor. (A victory for now Queens Councilman Barry Grodenchik’s in the race to fill a seat vacated by Councilman Mark Weprin was seen as a way to keep the seat in the Queens Democratic machine in the next election cycle.)
“I’m focusing right now on the elections this year. [Queens Assemblywoman] Aravella Simotas needs to get elected in November,” he said as Simotas, who was also in attendance for the press conference, passed by. “I have to get reelected. The president…we’ll deal with next year, next year.”
The mayor’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.