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Way ahead in the polls, de Blasio must think about transition

Bill de Blasio (Charles Eckert)

Bill de Blasio (Charles Eckert)

Front-running mayoral hopeful Bill de Blasio now reaches a peculiar place — one known strictly to candidates who hold huge leads in polls less than a week before Election Day.

It would be seen as crass and divisive to start handing out appointments before a single vote is counted. All the same, a de Blasio ally argues it would also be “irresponsible” to put off all internal discussion of a transition.

“He’s talking to a lot of people and getting ideas.” said another source. “People are sending in names.” And, de Blasio has been “relying on a small group of advisers” but also speaks with people outside the campaign. “He’s been doing a lot of listening.”

The next mayor’s appointments will hold fascination in the political world for those waiting to see the caliber and political orientation of his team. Both de Blasio and his GOP opponent Joe Lhota pledge change, and their who’s-who of potential aides might symbolize it.

Emma Wolfe, formerly chief of staff in the public advocate office, is expected to have a transition role if de Blasio wins as expected. Her resume includes election campaigns director for the Working Families Party and organizing roles for 1199/SEIU and the activist group ACORN.

Others who insiders said are being consulted are former Clinton administration aide lawyer Harold Ickes; Peter Madonia, once a chief of staff to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and John Banks III, vice president for government relations at Con Edison, who worked with Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr.

Other transition names are bandied about by different sources — including a couple from the Dinkins administration, the last Democratic mayoralty, for which de Blasio and his wife Chirlane McCrary both worked.

Transition teams involving scores of people offer incoming elected leaders a chance to cast a wide net for talent — but also to make gestures of broad-mindedness and outreach. Bloomberg’s advisers, for example, included United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2006 transition team for attorney general included lawyer Ed Cox, who is now the state Republican chairman.

Bloomberg drew from various camps when he began hiring for top slots during the last City Hall changeover in 2001-2002.

His transition team and administration came to include veterans of the staffs of predecessors Ed Koch and Rudy Giuliani, of Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Vallone, and private businesses.


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