A crowd of over 1,000 people began lining up outside of City Hall’s gates hours before the formal and festive pomp of Inauguration 2014 began at noon. They came from all walks of life and all five boroughs, but Brooklynites were well-represented—in the crowd just as much as in the halls of City Hall.
“This is an important inauguration [because] Bill de Blasio represents what we represent. I have known him for years and he’s very accessible. You could tell he really cared and he got things taken care of,” said Aaron Dean, board chair of Brooklyn Community Services. “We’ve talked for many years about the tale of two Brooklyns. [Hopefully now] we’re going to have a more inclusive city than we’ve had the last 12 years. This is a chance for everyone to come together.”
For Lisa Cacciola of Carroll Gardens, the arrival of the de Blasio administration means the prospect of keeping her job at Long Island College Hospital (LICH).
“Bill de Blasio helped a lot [with LICH] so we are here to show him that we support him fully [and that] we want him to keep his promise,” said Cacciola, referring to de Blasio’s campaign promise to prevent hospital closures and his legal efforts as public advocate to halt LICH’s closure and sale. “He’s been doing a good job with LICH and Interfaith [Medical Center]. Without him, we would be closed by now.
“Our neighborhood is overcrowded and we don’t need more housing,” Cacciola added. “Methodist and Maimonides hospitals are overwhelmed [with extra patients].”
Goosewatch NYC founder David Karopkin is also hoping that Mayor de Blasio follows through on his campaign promises, including the one to ban horse-drawn carriages from the city and Central Park in particular.
“He has been fantastic in fighting for animal issues,” said the Flatbush activist. “De Blasio has a platform [that includes] reforming Animal Care and Control of NYC, so hopefully we’ll be able to work with him in the new year.”
De Blasio also appealed to many voters based on his promise to tackle what many New Yorkers consider to be a floundering education system under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his choices for schools chancellor: Dennis Walcott, Cathie Black and Joel Klein—all of whom needed a state waiver as they did not meet state requirements for the job.
“[De Blasio] wasn’t my first choice—I supported [Bill] Thompson—but I worked on his campaign and I hope he can get this education [agenda] going, especially universal pre-k,” said Christine P. of Fort Greene. “My own grandchildren went and I could see the difference.”
“Children need to be motivated and want to be there,” added Zelphia Phillips, a high school teacher from Crown Heights who has been teaching for almost 20 years. “When things go wrong, the blame is always on the teachers. We need accountable parents, as well as cultural and art programs.
“[For example, growing up] I knew I wanted to go to school for photography and art class, but once there, I would go to all of my classes,” said Phillips. “We need to get kids to love education early.”
According to Valerie B. of Clinton Hill, de Blasio’s choice of former District 15 Superintendent Carmen Fariña as chancellor is a good sign. “She’s an educator who has worked up through the ranks,” she explained. “She understands teachers, parents, principals and superintendent’s points-of-view.”
This general sentiment of hope and cautious optimism is what we need, said Kings County Democratic Party Chair Frank Seddio. That, and the “greatest thing that [he] brings, which is common sense.”
“It is a new era in New York politics, with a cooperative effort between all agencies and governments to make the city better,” Seddio said. “He is bringing on good, quality people who are professional, not philosophical. As his deputy mayors are selected, I think we’ll see a continued efficiency in government.”