Josh Waldman, ‘16
Bill de Blasio is on fire among New York City’s left. He polled at a whopping 40% in the Democratic Mayoral Primary, bypassing a runoff. He easily beat frontrunners Christine Quinn and Bill Thompson. As the current Public Advocate, he ran on the issues of income inequality and stop and frisk. He’s running in the general election in November against former MTA Chairman Joe Lhota, the Republican nominee.
Regarding high schools, Mr. de Blasio has an education platform that among other things seeks to decrease the importance of tests, recruit and keep better teachers, lower class sizes, get more students access to breakfast and increase the role of the mayor in New York City’s schools. When asked about de Blasio most BHSEC students reacted with clear, but vague enthusiasm. Most knew that he was the Democratic nominee. Many students made note of de Blasio’s son Dante and his celebrated afro haircut, now widely known because of his appearance in television ads. Dante is a junior at Brooklyn Tech and attended M.S. 51 in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Many BHSEC Manhattan students attended M.S.51 and even more live in Park Slope, Mr. de Blasio’s home neighborhood.
Regarding de Blasio’s General Election bid, students were mostly very supportive. Emma Morgan-Bennet, a sophomore, expressed high hopes in Mr. de Blasio for his “mindset and energy.” She also noted that he has a bi-racial family. Another sophomore, Max Neuman, said, “I think that de Blasio is the best candidate in the General election.” When asked if he thought de Blasio was the best candidate in the primary, Max answered, “I personally don’t think so, but that’s water under the bridge at this point.” There were also those few who held firmly against Mr. de Blasio. Sophomore Caroline Nelson though that Mr. de Blasio is “too liberal, and he’s so popular in the polls mainly because his stance is very anti-Bloomberg.” A sophomore, who asked not to be named, said “de Blasio is going to take us back to the Dinkins years.” A junior, who asked for anonymity, asserted, “He’s a populist Sandinista who will overthrow our education system, socialize our tax system, challenge the integrity of our police force and weaken the resolve of our enemies.” However, these stark negative responses were few and far between. Most students responded with unquestioning support. One student said, “He lives on my block.” Another student said, “Of course!”
Given BHSEC students’ political nature, a few of those interviewed spent their summers working on Democratic mayoral campaigns. Mostly these students were working on Speaker Quinn’s and the Public Advocate’s campaign. Several students worked on city council races. However, a large number of interviewed students, especially underclassmen, were not fully informed about the mayoral race. Most students did not closely follow the primaries, but the vast majority of interviewees proclaimed their support, and many mentioned their parents’ support, for the Public Advocate.
If elected, Mr. de Blasio would be the first mayor in decades to have children in the New York City’s public school system, which is in sharp contrast to the billionaire mayoralty Michael Bloomberg has held. De Blasio holds around a 50-point lead in recent general election polls and it seems he has rallied a large amount of support from the BHSEC student body.