Editorial: Bill de Blasio's chance to unite the city

New Yorkers chose Bill de Blasio as mayor, electing the first Democrat since 1989. Republican rival Joe Lhota says the city

New Yorkers chose Bill de Blasio as mayor, electing the first Democrat since 1989. Republican rival Joe Lhota says the city "cannot go backwards." AP video. (Nov. 5)

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Congratulations to Bill de Blasio on his election as the 109th mayor of New York.

He earned it in classic fashion -- by accurately reading the mood of the city, articulating a strong vision, and winning over voters in a blur of forums, debates, meet-and-greets and ads. He has shown all of us -- those who backed him and those who didn't -- some superb political skills. Those are critical for anyone who aspires to chart a new course for a city as dynamic and complex as ours.

Voters clearly want change. This is only natural as we recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. And de Blasio captured the moment by building a campaign that focused on economic inequality -- summed up in his "tale-of-two cities" theme.

He sold himself to voters as an advocate for better local schools, viable neighborhood hospitals, higher wages and affordable housing. He has promised to push for tax hikes on those making more than $500,000 a year to pay for his universal prekindergarten program.

We didn't endorse him. We differ with him on ways to achieve many of his goals, And we disliked his campaign when it relied too much on the rich-against-poor wedge issue. But we agree with the broad outlines of his to-do list to improve the lot of regular folks.

Meanwhile, it's worth noting that de Blasio's mandate for change may have tighter limits than are apparent: Two-thirds of respondents to a recent amNewYork-Newsday poll said things are going in the right direction in their own neighborhoods.

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De Blasio heads to City Hall with no cataclysmic crises in sight. That's his good luck and the city's, because his managerial skills are largely untested. His first challenge will come soon, as he tries to settle 152 labor contracts without busting the budget. This means de Blasio -- friend of labor -- must insist on work-rule changes and cost savings in return for pay hikes. Impossible? Well, who better to push labor into the future but a pal?

De Blasio has always said he wants to make the two New Yorks one New York. We hope he succeeds.


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