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Mayor-elect de Blasio introduces transition team

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de blasio Credit: Bill de Blasio announces his transition team. (Charles Eckert)

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio announced a diverse and seasoned team to lead his transition Wednesday morning, after a "cordial" meeting with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whom he said offered "helpful advice" in building a new city government.

"We had an extraordinary night, but today is now the first day of a six-to-eight-week sprint to prepare our new administration," de Blasio said at a news conference hours after his nearly 50-point victory Tuesday over Republican Joe Lhota. "We are hitting the ground running."

De Blasio's "core team" will be led by co-chairs Jennifer Jones Austin and Carl Weisbrod. Laura Santucci, acting executive director of the Democratic National Committee and a special assistant in the Obama administration, was named executive director, and Ursulina Ramirez, deputy public advocate under de Blasio, will be the deputy director of the team.

Austin, the chief executive and executive director of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, was a deputy commissioner during Bloomberg's first term at the Administration for Children's Services and later served as a senior vice president for United Way of New York City.

Weisbrod led the revival of Times Square, was the founding president of the city's Economic Development Corp., executive director of the city's planning department, founding president of the Alliance for Downtown New York, and chairman of the state health foundation and a partner and HR & A Advisors.

De Blasio, who ran on a populist "Tale of Two Cities" platform and vowed to close the gap between rich and poor and listen to all residents, said his transition team is committed to his "progressive and inclusive mission."

They will assemble an administration "that mirrors the glorious diversity of this city . . . so we hear the voice of every community," de Blasio said, noting that the appointees have among them more than six decades of experience in government and nonprofits.

"The mandate is clear . . . we will be committed to rectify the inequalities in our city," de Blasio said. "The central obligation is the health and safety of our people. That will be our mission every hour of every day."

De Blasio also unveiled a website and Twitter handle -- www.transition2013.com and @nyctransition -- where anyone can offer opinions and submit resumes.

With 55 days to go until he is sworn in on Jan. 1, de Blasio thanked Bloomberg for meeting with him for about an hour at City Hall to help him "hit the ground running."

"This is going to be a smooth and productive transition," de Blasio said.

One question remained unanswered: Will de Blasio and his family move from their Park Slope home into Gracie Mansion on the Upper East Side?

"Dante has strong feelings about proximity to his high school," de Blasio said, referring to his 16-year-old son, who is a junior at Brooklyn Tech in Fort Greene.

During his 12-year tenure, Bloomberg, a billionaire businessman, lived in his East 79th Street apartment.

De Blasio was elected the city's 109th mayor Tuesday in a landslide -- 73% to 24% -- victory that ended the Bloomberg era and the Democratic Party's two-decade exile from power.

The 52-year-old Democrat rode a growing sense of fatigue with three-term Bloomberg, and frustration among blacks and Hispanics over the NYPD's controversial stop-and-frisk tactic. He also vowed to curb "giveaways" to corporations and developers, and to seek higher taxes from New Yorkers earning at least $500,000 to expand universal prekindergarten and after-school programs.

"We reach our greatest heights when we all rise together," de Blasio told his supporters Tuesday night.

Lhota, a Giuliani-era deputy mayor and a former transit chief, argued that the Democrat's economic plans would stymie job creation, and his NYPD plans would send crime soaring to levels unseen since the last Democratic mayor, David Dinkins.

In conceding defeat, Lhota, 59, wished de Blasio "good will," but warned: "We want our city to move forward and not backward. And I hope our mayor-elect understands that before it's too late."

Throughout the race, Lhota's poll numbers never rose above dismal. De Blasio outraised and outspent Lhota by a 3-to-1 margin in the general-election campaign, fortifying a Democratic advantage of 6-to-1 in party enrollment. October's federal government shutdown gave de Blasio ammunition to link Lhota, a self-described social liberal and fiscal conservative, to unpopular congressional Republicans in Washington.

As of Jan. 1, Democrats will hold every citywide elective office: Manhattan Borough president and comptroller candidate Scott Stringer, 53, claimed victory over lightly funded Republican John Burnett, 44. Councilwoman Letitia James, 55, had no major-party opposition for public advocate.

With Matt Clark, Ivan Pereira and Dan Rivoli
 

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