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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio, First Lady McCray Deliver Remarks at 2018 Inaugural Ceremony

January 1, 2018

First Lady Chirlane McCray: Hello, everyone and welcome. Bienvenidos a todos! 

Even though it’s bitterly cold out here I can wish you a Happy New Year with enthusiasm and hope because we are blessed, blessed to be alive and celebrating in the greatest city in the world.

[Applause]

New York has always been a city of big dreams. People from all across the globe and different walks of life come to make it here from the immigrants, artists, and strivers who have made this their home to the social justice movements that have rooted and bloomed here.

This city has shaped our world and our history.

And all of you, the people of New York City, have helped carry on this powerful legacy by leading, by voting, by serving as activists, as community members, as citizens. 

We thank you and we need you to keep it up in the coming years because folks are looking to New York City for leadership and inspiration now more than ever.

While some politicians in Washington try to push our country in the wrong direction, New York City is the light that illuminates a better way forward. 

[Applause]

We don’t build walls here, we open our doors wide.

[Applause]

We stand against racism and misogyny, and we stand with those who are transgender and gender nonconforming.

[Applause]

We don’t put profits for the few ahead of prosperity for all. And when we bring people together to tackle big challenges, people with different perspectives but shared values, we achieve what others have said is impossible.

New York City has made extraordinary progress by building stronger relationships between police officers and the people they serve. New York City’s crime is at historic lows.

[Applause]

By promoting positive public conversation about mental illness and substance misuse, we’re moving away from stigma and punishment, and responding with compassion and care.

[Applause]

And by bringing more women and people of color into the decision making table, policies to expand family leave, to close the wage gap, and invest in minority and women-owned businesses have become common sense priorities.

[Applause]

So, just look around you today and see the diversity that is our strength.

[First Lady McCray speaks in Spanish]

[Applause]

That’s right. Just look, look around you.

For me, this work is deeply personal. New York City is the first place I ever truly felt at home. It’s where Bill and I chose to raise our family, build our life together. I love this city and what it represents to the world.

And even in this time of national tumult, I find reasons for hope all across the five boroughs in the bright-eyed three- and four-year-olds so excited to learn at school for the very first time, in the women who march in Harlem each year for an end to domestic violence, in the people equipping themselves with naloxone to save their loved ones from opioid overdoses, in the social workers and clinicians working together to bring mental health services into the communities that need them most, in all the people who strive every day to make a life for themselves and their families here in the greatest city in the world.

[Applause]

Today we swear in three leaders who believe strongly in our city and its potential – Tish James, Scott Stringer, and of course my wonderful husband, Mayor Bill de Blasio.

[Applause]

And we all pledge together to continue fighting for a better city.

[First Lady McCray speaks in Spanish]

And thank you all.

[Applause]

[...]

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Happy New Year, everyone.

Audience: Happy New Year.

Mayor: [Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]

Okay, I’ve got a question for you up front here and I want to hear what you think. I can do a very brief speech if you prefer –

[Applause]

Okay, the people have spoken.

[Laughter]

Let me thank everyone for being here. You are the most distinguished frozen group of people I have ever spoken to before.

But I thank you – all of you for what you do for this city every day. I want to thank the people of this city for entrusting me with a second term as their mayor.

[Applause]

I embark upon this mission with humility and with gratitude. I want to express my deepest love to my family.

[Applause]

To Chirlane who is the love of my life, who is the partner in all I do, and is the creator of Thrive NYC.

[Applause]

To Chiara and Dante, who are the lights of my life and who oftentimes are my consciouses.

To my beloved extended family, especially my brothers Steve and Don who have guided me throughout my life. And we never forget our ancestors, and I offer a warm salute to the hometowns of my grandparents, Sant'Agata de' Goti and Grassano in Southern Italy. We thank the ancestors always.

[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Italian]

[Applause]

To Bernie and Jane Sanders –

[Applause]

These two proud Brooklynites have changed America in a profound way. Bernie and Jane, you have proven that the voices of the people are what matter most. And the political process in this country will never be the same. It will be better. It will be more democratic because of what these two have done. Let’s thank them.

[Applause]

I want to give a warm thanks to the man who gave Chirlane and I our start in this work and who did so much for this city, Mayor David Dinkins.

[Applause]

I want to thank all the elected officials who are here. I want to thank the members of my administration who have worked so hard for this city. 

And a very special congratulations to Council Member Corey Johnson, I look forward to four great years of partnership together.

[Applause]

And my congratulations to my partners in government, Scott Stringer and Tish James, and I guarantee you in the next four years we’re going to agree on everything.

[Laughter]

And my special thanks to the people who serve this city every single day – our police officers, our firefighters, our Correction officers, our Sanitation workers, our teachers.

[Applause]

All the public employees of this city who do so much for us. Give them a big applause.

[Applause]

Now, I have only a few minutes to tell you the essence of what the next four years will be like. So, here’s what I want everyone to know. Something big is happening in New York City, something new, something different, something that has begun a new progressive era in this city’s history.

Every one of you are a part of it. Something is being done here that matters to all of us but is also being felt far beyond our borders. Here’s what we can say more proudly than ever as we start the year 2018.

We are the safest big city in America.

[Applause]

My friends, we are safer than at any time since the 1950s.

[Applause]

The most powerful commandment in human history is thou shalt not kill. As of midnight, New York City recorded the lowest number of homicides for any year since 1951. 

[Applause]

We have brought police and community together like never before. We have dedicated ourselves to a vision of true neighborhood policing and it works.

[Applause]

And this is the vision that will be the future of policing in this city and that will one day be the future of policing in this nation.

Our country has seen too many tragedies too many times when the relationship between police and community was broken. Our city has felt that pain as well. But we now leave an unjust past behind. 

Every time a new officer is trained to de-escalate a conflict we step into the future. Every time a Neighborhood Coordination Officer greets a store owner or a tenant leader or a family sitting on their stoop, we create a new reality. Every time a precinct commander meets respectfully with Cure Violence activists, we build a new and deeper kind of community.

Yes. We are the safest city in America and we look forward to holding that title for many years to come.

[Applause]

But I have another hope for this city. I want us to be the fairest big city in America.

[Applause]

And I know we can do it because we are called in a time of vast overt disparities to do something different, to be something better. For too many years our city descended into growing inequality numbly allowing our social fabric to be torn more and more.

The message conveyed to thousands upon thousands of our fellow citizens was that they didn’t count, they could never get ahead, they didn’t really belong. 

And so the theme of our campaign just passed, was simple and clear – this is your city.

[Applause]

It is a reminder that the true owners of this beloved place are not the big landlords and developers, not the titans of Wall Street, and the one percent. The deepest, truest stakeholders of this town are the people who do the work, who every day make this city come to life but have too often not reaped the rewards.

We commit ourselves today to making sure this is always their city and that it will never be taken away from them.

[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]

For hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, we will make sure that this city that is now too expensive for them becomes theirs once again. 

We will give them the affordable housing they need.

We will create for them the good-paying jobs they deserve.

[Applause]

We do all this for the people who do the work, people who have always made New York great but have never gotten the credit. We do this because anything less threatens our very future as a city. 

Abraham Lincoln once warned, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” It is now clear that a society where only the one percent can get ahead is truly a house divided against itself and it is a reality that cannot be sustained.

We, in this city, in our time will prove that there is a better way. And we should also note that Lincoln’s words could well have been written for this raw moment in our nation’s history, in this heyday of hatred, this new dawn of divisiveness.

We, in our city, refuse to be dragged down to a place we know is beneath us. We know that the gaudy celebration of discrimination based on faith or color or nationality is simply un-American.

[Applause]

It is a violation of who we are. We know the overt and gleeful prejudice that is suddenly in vogue, spits in the face of all that has made our city great. And we will not be passive in the face of regression. 

We will not ignore or deny the threat. We will confront it head on. To do anything less would be an affront to our very identity as New Yorkers. 

I conclude today – before my fingers stop functioning –

[Laughter]

– With a simple call to arms. We have a responsibility, every one of us, to ensure that New York remains a beacon to our nation and to the world.

[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]

In a time when religious faith is somehow painfully, paradoxically being used by some to sow conflict, we show every day that being a New Yorker means not being held down or pulled back by the sad bonds of history.

We prove that there could be healing. We provide evidence that a place can be greater than the sum of its parts, and we demonstrate this without even thinking about it. It comes naturally to us in our schools and in our workplaces, at the deli and in the subway. We live and let live.

We have one common identity that makes us particularly proud, that gives us a special confidence, a certain swagger.

And even if it isn’t stated out loud, somewhere inside we know we live at the forward edge of history. We, here today, inhabit a reality that is some day to come for so much of the rest of the world. 

We live – we live in an unspoken state of hope because every morning we get to wake and say, “I’m a New Yorker.”

[Applause]

And I can’t think of a better way to start a new day and the New Year. Thank you. God bless you all. Stay warm, everyone. Thank you.

[Applause]

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