NYC Voters Cool to Policy Role for Mayor’s Spouse

NEW YORK (AP) -

Mayor Bill de Blasio has extolled his wife as one of his crucial advisers, but city voters aren’t keen on having mayoral spouses play major parts in shaping policy, according to a poll released Wednesday.

The Quinnipiac poll comes two days after first lady Chirlane McCray’s chief of staff announced she was taking an indefinite leave following damaging revelations about her personal life. It showed voters were split on whether public officials should be held accountable for spouses’ actions, with 49 percent saying yes and 43 percent no.

But 61 percent said a mayor’s spouse shouldn’t have a chief of staff, a $170,000-a-year job that de Blasio has said entails organizing his wife’s considerable, unpaid portfolio of appearances and city work. She oversees a mayoral charity fund, advocated for her husband’s signature pre-kindergarten plan, and has helped edit his speeches and choose senior staff members.

Voters have expressed warm feelings toward McCray: She got a 52-19 percent favorable-to-unfavorable rating in March.

But the Quinnipiac poll found 71 percent of voters feel any mayoral spouse should play little or no role in policy; only 24 percent want a spouse to have a major say.

“Mayor Bill de Blasio is making his job a family affair, and voters aren’t enthusiastic,” said Quinnipiac assistant polling director Maurice Carroll.

Voters also gave the city’s police commissioner the lowest approval rating — 47 percent, with 35 percent disapproving — in more than 12 years. Voters approve, 54-39 percent, of the job police are doing citywide.