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Reclaiming Gotham

Bill de Blasio and the Movement to End America's Tale of Two Cities

by Juan González

In November 2013, a little-known progressive stunned the elite of New York City by capturing the mayoralty by a landslide. Bill de Blasio’s promise to end the “Tale of Two Cities” had struck a chord among ordinary residents still struggling to recover from the Great Recession.

De Blasio’s election heralded the advent of the most progressive New York City government in generations. Not since the legendary Fiorello La Guardia in the 1930s had so many populist candidates captured government office at the same time. Gotham, in other words, had been suddenly reclaimed in the name of its people.

How did this happen? De Blasio’s victory, journalist legend Juan González argues, was not just a routine change of government but a popular rebellion against corporate-friendly policies that had dominated New York for decades. Reflecting that broader change, liberal Democrats Bill Peduto in Pittsburgh, Betsy Hodges in Minneapolis, and Martin Walsh of Boston also won mayoral elections that same year, as did insurgent Ras Baraka in Newark the following year. This new generation of municipal leaders offers valuable lessons for those seeking grassroots reform.

Juan González is on a national speaking tour. Find an event near you!

Juan González

Juan
Juan González has been a professional journalist for more than 40 years and a staff columnist at the New York Daily News since 1987. He is a two-time recipient of the George Polk Award for commentary (1998 and 2010), and the first reporter in New York City to consistently expose the health effects arising from the September 11, 2001 attacks and...