There were some successes. He kept his promise to provide universal pre-kindergarten, and he stopped the police stop-and frisk tactic. The legacy of de Blasio’s two terms was also shaped by his strained relationships with police and the reform activists who helped him get to power, public discord with the former governor, and gaffes that were reprinted in mocking headlines.
De Blasio contemplates a run for higher office as he finishes his term. He is betting that his early accomplishments and his leadership of the 8.8 million-strong city through the pandemic will be remembered by New Yorkers far more than any conflicts or flubs.
"I want people remember that we had to fight inequality, and we did. It can be done," de Blasio stated in an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press. "We were able that in very tangible and real ways. This opens up the possibility of a lot more in the future, but it is possible.
He also admitted that he had a difficult relationship with the media and made mistakes along the way. This is something he has been reflecting on lately as he finishes his term in the office of mayor.
"I believe I could have communicated more effectively." De Blasio stated that he could have understood more about the jobs of media professionals. "I made adjustments over time. It's something that I will continue to work on as a public servant."
On Jan. 1, he officially handed the reins over to Eric Adams, a Democrat who was formerly a police captain.
De Blasio's admirers and critics both suggest that his accomplishments will not be appreciated until New Yorkers have some space to forget him.
Sid Davidoff, a de Blasio advocate and advisor to many former mayors, said that he believes he has done things that will last generations.
Even de Blasio believes that his legacy will take time to consolidate. "A lot of the things we did were not for today. He said that it was for tomorrow.
WINS, REGRETS, AND FAUX PAUS
De Blasio won a landslide victory in 2013 and became the first Democrat to be elected mayor of New York in 20 years. New York is a heavily Democratic city that can serve as a laboratory to liberal policies such as the $15 per hour minimum wage he pushed for.
His arrival was a departure from Michael Bloomberg, the former billionaire mayor who began as a Republican but ended up as an independent. He boasted about the city as a luxury product while defending stop-and-frisk.
De Blasio’s progressive agenda was sometimes overshadowed in tabloid-delicious blunders like a culinary faux pas days before his first term when he ate a slice pizza with a knife & fork.
Other notable mistakes included arriving late at a memorial for victims of plane crashes and dropping a groundhog at a Groundhog Day celebration. A week later, the groundhog was gone.
According to the mayor, he wasn't surprised that New York City media was difficult and that tabloid headlines were often "colorful," like a recent New York Post cover where he was photoshopped to appear as Santa Claus in a Fidel Castro cape under the headline "Santanista Claus."
He said, "I was shocked at the intensity of coverage around some items I thought were small but took up a lot time and energy."
De Blasio won a victory by expanding prekindergarten public to every 4-year old in the city in his first year. De Blasio built on this success, expanding the program to 3 year-olds and a plan for making it universal by the fall 2023.
TENSIONS WITH THE POLICE
The relationship between him and the police force has been difficult. De Blasio began his term as mayor promising to improve the department's interaction with the public. He also curtailed the department’s practice of stopping, questioning, and frisking most Black and Hispanic street dwellers en masse.
Officers and many of those who supported reform in the police force were dissatisfied by his handling of Eric Garner's summer 2014 police shooting death.
Although he was critical of the officers, he largely resisted any punishments from the department until a long federal civil rights investigation was completed. The mayor was later killed by a gunman who had become angry at the killings of two NYPD officers.
L. Joy Williams is a political strategist and president Brooklyn NAACP. She said that de Blasio appeared to view the confrontation with NYPD as a political crisis rather than a human crisis.
Williams stated that this was disappointing. The coalition of groups advocating for reform in police law expected de Blasio to be more tough against the union and officers.
"We expected him to do that, because that was what he stated he would do." She said that he didn’t do it.
De Blasio acknowledged tensions with some police union leaders as well as some reform activists. He said he didn't agree to all of them but believes mainstream New Yorkers want something in the middle.
___ WHAT’S NEXT (AND NOT)
These were not the only complaints about the mayor. Some New Yorkers were skeptical of de Blasio’s commitment to the job as he attempted to run for president in 2019. According to de Blasio, while it was difficult and unlikely that he would win the presidency in 2019, it helped him understand how important communication is.
He stated that his presidential ambitions were in the past. "Not on my dance card," he quipped.
De Blasio acknowledges that he had difficulty addressing difficult issues like homelessness.
His two terms saw an increase in single-adult shelter residents despite the drop in homeless families. He also set a goal for his administration to build or preserve 200,000 affordable housing units.
The slow closing of Rikers Island prison in the city has been a constant struggle for his last year. This jail has also been hit by violence, prisoner deaths, and severe staffing shortages. This year, 16 people died in Rikers Island jail. It is the highest number since 2013.
De Blasio's efforts to manage the pandemic in New York City were often hampered by a public dispute with the governor. Andrew Cuomo, who fuelled their long-standing tense relationship by ending de Blasio’s plans for a shelter in place order and school closings.
Cuomo quit in August after being accused of sexually harassing at least 11 women. De Blasio was able to respond more freely to the city's allegations. De Blasio issued a series of tough mandates that required all public employees to be vaccinated. These orders survived most legal challenges. They drove up vaccination rates for police officers, firefighters, and other city workers. De Blasio extended the mandates to private sector workers, making them the most comprehensive mandates of any state or large city in the U.S.
De Blasio was similar to Cuomo and had almost daily televised briefings throughout the pandemic. However, they adopted a variety-show style in recent months. While de Blasio criticized pineapple toppings on pizza, he also explained rank-choice voting as well as singing with George Clinton, a funk music legend.
When asked about his future plans, de Blasio has not yet answered if he will run for governor. The Democrat's route to the governor's seat is equally vague. Gov. Gov.
He said, "I believe I've left plenty of breadcrumbs on the trail." "I intend to remain in the public service. In terms of electoral politics, I will provide an update very soon.