Bill de Blasio Biography

Mayor (1961–)
Bill de Blasio is a liberal democrat best known for being elected mayor of New York City in 2013. The Brooklynite won in a landslide victory over Republican Joe Lhota.

Who Is Bill de Blasio?

Born in New York City on May 8, 1961, Bill de Blasio entered politics in 1989 to work on David Dinkins's New York City mayoral campaign. He later managed Hillary Clinton's 2000 campaign for the U.S. Senate. In 2009, he won New York City's public advocate position. In 2013, under a platform that reflected his liberal Democratic values, de Blasio won the race for the New York City mayorship.

Early Life

Bill de Blasio was born Warren Wilhelm Jr. on May 8, 1961, in New York City. His father, a World War II veteran who struggled with alcoholism, left the family when Bill was 7 years old. Bill was raised by his mother in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and consequently, took his mother's maiden name, de Blasio, in 2002.

De Blasio was schooled at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. He received his undergraduate degree from New York University, where he was a student activist who protested against tuition hikes. De Blasio went on to receive his master's degree from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs.

Political Beginnings

In 1989, Bill de Blasio entered politics to work on David Dinkins's mayoral campaign. After Dinkins won and became the first African-American mayor of New York, de Blasio worked in his administration.

Afterward, de Blasio's career shifted to a national scale. He led Bill Clinton's re-election campaign in New York, and went on to work in the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development under Andrew Cuomo. He then managed Hillary Clinton's 2000 campaign for the U.S. Senate, although he was allegedly pushed out of the campaign toward the end of the race in favor of a more aggressive style.

New York City Government

In 2001, de Blasio joined the New York City Council, where he represented Brooklyn's 39th district. In 2009, he won the public advocate position, making him the second-highest elected official in the city. In his role, de Blasio focused on keeping the government accountable and fought against the city's controversial stop-and-frisk strategy.

In 2013, de Blasio ran for the mayorship of New York City. A liberal Democrat, de Blasio's campaign portrayed New York as a "tale of two cities"—one rich and prosperous, the other poor and neglected—under mayor Michael Bloomberg. His platform advocated for taxing the rich to finance pre-kindergarten programs. On Tuesday, November 5, 2013, de Blasio beat Republican Joe Lhota to become New York City's 109th mayor—as well as the first democratic mayor New York had seen in 20 years. His victory was heralded as a "landslide."

De Blasio faced several challenges during his term, including a Halloween 2017 incident in which a pickup truck driver plowed into several bikers and pedestrians in lower Manhattan, killing eight and injuring 11. It marked the worst act of terror in New York City since the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Family Life

De Blasio is married to an African-American writer Chirlane McCray, who had lived as a lesbian prior to meeting Bill. The couple has two children together, Chiara and Dante, who were 18 and 16, respectively, when their father was named mayor. Dante gained public attention for appearing in one of his father's campaign commercials sporting an afro; the ad was credited with invigorating the campaign.

The de Blasio family lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Bill de Blasio reportedly drives a hybrid car and has a vegetable garden in the backyard of his brownstone.

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