Bill de Blasio, the New York City mayoral candidate who ran on fixing inequality and raising taxes on incomes over $500,000, took a fairly even number of votes across the income scale in yesterday’s primary. Which is to say, Democrats rich and poor like the guy. It’s unclear yet if he’ll have a runoff with opponent William Thompson, the former city comptroller.
I think de Blasio’s vision for the city isn’t as progressive as all the campaign coverage has made it out to be. Still, his affordable housing plan sets him apart from his Democratic foe. As Dana Rubinstein wrote at Capital New York last week:
For his part, in April de Blasio made a big housing speech in which he said that he would create 100,000 new affordable units and preserve nearly 90,000 over the next eight years, which means he would build or preserve nearly 24,000 units a year, more than [former candidate Christine] Quinn’s proposing and more than [Mayor Michael] Bloomberg has achieved.
More importantly, de Blasio has been a supporter of mandatory inclusionary zoning. Rather than doling out incentives to developers who build affordable units for low- and middle-income families, it would make including those units law. If the city upzones a neighborhood, therefore, some of the new housing will have to be affordable. Basically, de Blasio wants to ensure that with development comes some effort to keep the neighborhood diverse.
And any pedestrian in New York — pretty much everyone — should be thrilled that de Blasio has a plan to reduce traffic fatalities. Two hundred and seventy-four people in the city were killed by cars last year. Of those, 148 — more than half — were pedestrians. De Blasio wants to improve at least 50 dangerous corridors each year and quadruple the number of 20-miles-per-hour “slow zones” in neighborhoods.
Thompson, meanwhile, is all about cars, tolls and parking.
But don’t book the parade yet. Joe Lhota, the former MTA chairman who won the Republican primary, has his fingers crossed for a runoff. If it happens, he can spend the next month campaigning for the general election while the two Democrats bicker.
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Bill Bradley is a writer and reporter living in Brooklyn. His work has appeared in Deadspin, GQ, and Vanity Fair, among others.