Spend any time on the campaign trail with New York City mayoral aspirant Bill de Blasio, a towering man the height of the average NBA player, and you will understand why the married father of two is climbing steadily in the polls.
His approach with voters is part professor, part father, and part friendly neighbor next door. By far the most liberal of the candidates, the city’s Public Advocate shows a soft approach to tough questions hurled at him by voters exasperated with a city that seems to work lovely for some and not so for others.
On a recent Saturday afternoon campaign stomp in El Barrio, the legendary birthplace of Marc Anthony and Tito Puente, the former Brooklyn councilman engaged in deep conversations with residents on a wide range of issues—from the city’s crumbling infrastructure, the NYPD’s stop and frisk policy, healthcare, affordable housing, gentrification, education and jobs. He got deep into the nitty gritty of policy and governance. The approach seemed to work.
“He got my vote,” declared Evelyn Jacome, 50, who cornered de Blasio, who speaks Spanish and has a degree in Latin American studies, and spoke to him about her teenage son with special needs. “I like his style. He seems sincere and his kids go to public school.”
As de Blasio sees it, the last twelve years under the current Republican mayor Mike Bloomberg have been a disaster for working families, particularly Latinos and people of color. De Blasio hopes that with his grand scale vision to transform city, in particular education, (he wants universal pre-k and will pay for it by taxing the rich) affordable housing plan, monitoring the police, and even immigration policy, he will win many of the city’s Latino votes.