Bill de Blasio will be sworn in as the 109th mayor of New York City on Wednesday, becoming the first Democrat to occupy City Hall in more than two decades while vowing to pursue a sweeping liberal agenda for the nation’s largest city.
The new mayor was elected two months ago by a record margin on the promise of being a sharp break from Michael Bloomberg, who leaves office after 12 years that reshaped New York, making it one of the nation’s safest and most prosperous big cities but also one that has become increasingly stratified between the very rich and the working class.
De Blasio will take the oath of office moments after midnight at his modest Park Slope, Brooklyn home. His inauguration will be celebrated on a far grander scale 12 hours later on the steps of City Hall when he takes the oath again, which will be administered by former President Bill Clinton.
De Blasio, 52, is expected to be joined in the first minutes of 2014 by his wife, Chirlane McCray, and their two teenage children, a close-knit interracial family, who played a central role in his campaign and who to some are a further symbol of a new era after the data-driven, largely impersonal Bloomberg years. The oath will be delivered by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Initially, de Blasio said the press would not be permitted at the midnight ceremony. But he relented after a request from The Associated Press.
The inauguration was expected to be a joyous day for city Democrats, who outnumber Republicans in the city by a margin 6-to-1 but have been shut out of power since David Dinkins left office on New Year’s Day 1993.
The Democrats’ win will be underscored by the presence of Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is mulling a presidential run in 2016.
Both Clintons have ties to de Blasio: The new mayor worked for the former president’s administration in the Department of Housing and Urban Development and helped manage Hillary Clinton’s successful 2000 Senate campaign. De Blasio and his wife are frequently compared to the Clintons since McCray has long been considered the new mayor’s most powerful, if informal, adviser.
De Blasio, an unabashed progressive who touts his Brooklyn roots, takes office at a crucial juncture for the city of 8.4 million people.
Two other Democrats will officially assume citywide posts during the ceremony on January 1: Letitia James as public advocate and Scott Stringer as comptroller. Another Democrat is certain to be named city council speaker next week.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg on Tuesday walked out of City Hall as mayor for the last time. He walked down the steps of City Hall at 5:11 p.m. to the cheers of hundreds of staffers and well-wishers. Smiling broadly and waving, he thanked the crowd.
“If I wasn’t happy today,” Bloomberg said, “I don’t know when I would be happy.”
With a final wave, he then walked to the subway.