Meet Bill de Blasio:

photo courtesy of

photo courtesy of

Councilman Bill de Blasio represents District 39 of Brooklyn and is New York City’s Democratic nominee for Public Advocate. Prior to his election to the city council, de Blasio served as the Regional Director for the U.S. Department of Housing and for New York and New Jersey in the Clinton Administration. As a resident of Park Slope, he served on the School Board for Brooklyn’s District 15. In 2000, he managed Hillary Rodham Clinton’s successful campaign for U.S. Senate. The following year, de Blasio was elected to the New York City Council to represent District 39 of Brooklyn. De Blasio’s constituencies have gone to the polls twice since, in 2003 and 2005, to reelect him with an overwhelming majority.

photo courtesy of

photo courtesy of

District 39 is a long sliver of Brooklyn near the borough’s western edge. The district includes affluent brownstone neighborhoods in Cobble Hill, to Carroll Gardens and Windsor Terrace, where generations of working-class families have settled, to Borough Park, where Southeast Asian immigrants and Orthodox Jews own most of the real estate.

When I called de Blasio’s office inquiring about getting an interview with the councilman, de Blasio’s Chief of Staff, Freya Riel, offered to speak with me on his behalf. After the interview, she emailed me a few direct quotes from de Blasio.

“We truly live in a City of neighborhoods. As a Council Member representing the 39th council district for the past eight years, this fact has been made clear to me again and again each and every day,” said de Blasio, in the email.

The prominent issue in District 39 is education and the state of New York’s public school. As a public school parent and former School Board member, de Blasio believes no other city service needs oversight and assistance more than public education. “Bill recognizes what people are juggling—whether it be multiple jobs, language barriers, that would make it harder for a parent to become involved in education,” said Riel. In August, de Blasio introduced a piece of legislation that would enable concerned parents on a busy schedule to remain active in their child’s education. This legislation called for webcasts of PTA meetings to be created so that parents unable to attend would still be able to be involved.

When Bloomberg pushed City Council to overturn the term limits law back in 2008, 27 of the Council’s 51 members welcomed the idea. Bill de Blasio, on the other hand, greatly opposed it. During last week’s the debate over term limits, he emerged as a leader in the opposition to the mayor’s efforts to overturn the term legislation and in doing that, Riel said “he really demonstrated his ability in the role he can play in immobilizing broad diverse strong coalitions of people united behind what was clearly the voice of the people.”

When de Blasio decided to run public advocate in 2008, he gave up his opportunity to run for City Council again. On September he defeated opponent Mark Green with a 63 to 37 percent of the vote—landing himself just one step away from becoming city’s next public advocate. “Because he has shown that he can work well with Mayor Bloomberg when it makes sense to do so while vehemently and eloquently opposing him when justified, City Councilman Bill de Blasio best fits today’s requirements for the job,” a quote from The New York times, in an article endorsing Bill de Blasio for Public Advocate.

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