During our Nov. 12 hour on New York City’s Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio, our guests and callers repeatedly underlined the approachable nature of the new First Family of Gotham.
“They look like New York City of today,” one caller told us, and guest Ellis Henican of New York Newsday agreed. “The use of his family in the campaign was perfect,” Henican said. “They live like people in New York live today.”
So who are the de Blasios, anyway?
De Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, have been married since 1994. Both deeply involved in the city’s political world throughout their college years, they met while working for David Dinkins, the last Democratic mayor in the city and the first African-American to serve as mayor.
Their children, Chiara and Dante, played a big role in the campaign, serving as symbols of his commitment to new family values, affordable housing and an end to outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s controversial “stop and frisk” policy strategy. In one memorable and ultimately winning ad, Dante, a junior at Brooklyn Technical High School, explained how his father would be the candidate most likely to end the policing strategy as mayor. The ad went viral, and so did Dante’s towering afro. Chiara, a sophomore at Santa Clara University, made a big point of casting her first official ballot as a registered voter in New York for her father.
While the verdict is out on what role the family will play in the developing administration — de Blasio named his wife as a key adviser in his transition team, and a New York University urban studies professor told the Wall Street Journal this week that McCray looks set to be New York’s “own version of Hillary Clinton.” The family has said they won’t make their decision as to whether or not they’ll move from Park Slope, Brooklyn to Manhattan’s Upper East Side and the Gracie Mansion until after Thanksgiving.
But still, as our panel noted, the de Blasio family is a story in itself. “They’re not controversial, they’re good press,” Henican said. And, if the de Blasios take the advice of former Mayor John Lindsay’s daughter, Margaret Picotte (“Be as normal as you can, protect your privacy, don’t do stupid things, don’t get caught,”), they’ll keep it that way.