November 6, 2018
Pat Kiernan: You have a lot of hours to vote today. Polls, now open until 9:00 pm tonight. When you get to the voting booth, it is a two-page ballot. It’s a little bit complicated and on the backside in fine print are the proposals that will affect New York City’s charter. Here to discuss Election Day, Mayor de Blasio joins us. He has the ballot in hand.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: I have my prop ready. So, as you were saying, Pat, on this side you will find the candidates, which people are used to, but then you got to flip your ballot. Three ballot questions, all about how to make this a city with more civic engagement; a better, stronger democratic system. And I want to particularly point out question number one. This is something I believe in strongly – reforming our campaign finance system, getting big money out of politics, creating more matching funds for everyday people’s donations to help candidates including candidates who don’t know a whole lot of rich people to run for office.
Question one has been endorsed by the New York Times. It’s been endorsed by Bernie Sanders, by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. A whole range of people believe this is important because we’ve got to get money out of politics and we’ve got to help everyday New Yorkers believe that the political system can work. That’s what’s going to increase people’s voting habits and engagement.
Kiernan: Jamie and I were talking about this early and her suggestion was use this time you have at home this morning to get online, read about those three questions, decide whether people want to go along with your recommendation on there or whether they have another view on this. But at that moment in the ballot is probably not a great place to be reading that fine print for the first time.
Mayor: Well, you know, it’s not too much but I agree with you. If you can do your research in advance it makes a lot of sense. So, just a quick summary because I think it would help people. Question one, again, is about campaign finance reform.
Question two creates a Civic Engagement Commission and it does some amazing things. It provides translation services so people can vote more easily, know information about voting in a range of languages, but also creates something called Community Participatory Budgeting. This means taxpayers who send their money to the government year after year now get a chance to actually vote on what some of the priorities should be in terms of the use of their own tax money. It’s been done at the local level in Council districts – very popular, really engaging to make [inaudible] citywide.
And finally question three, this is about term limits for community board members and it says we really value what community boards do and the people who serve on them but we want to make sure they represent the whole community. We want to make sure different folks get a chance to serve including younger folks getting a chance to exhibit their leadership.
I think all three of these sum up as making our democracy more vibrant at a moment in history where people really want to get engaged. So, I say vote yes on one, two, and three. But you don’t get to vote yes until you flip your ballot.
Kiernan: So it is a ballot filled with important races. You said to Errol Louis on Inside City Hall last night that despite any differences you may have with Governor Cuomo –
Kiernan: You are voting for him but making a point of voting on the Working Families line.
Mayor: I’m going to go down the Working Families line voting for Democrats who are co-endorsed by the Working Families Party.
Kiernan: Let’s talk about Election Day and the motivation people have to get out this year to send a message on either side. This is a very partisan election year.
Mayor: It’s a partisan election year and I think you’re hitting the nail on the head. The most important thing is to participate. One thing we’re seeing is that people had a stronger sense of ownership than we’ve seen in many years. Some of the early voting totals in states like Georgia and Florida are astounding. They’re pushing three times as much voting as just four years earlier. As much as this is based in a lot of anger and frustration about some of the things that have happened in the last couple of years, the silver lining is this shows people deciding it’s time to get involved like never before. And so I think the very act of voting this year, the very act of coming out and participating, says that people are going to determine their own destiny and not just let whatever happens in Washington happen.
Kiernan: What are you hearing New Yorkers as they went into these last few weeks of the campaign?
Mayor: Yeah, a lot of energy, a sense that – look, I think New Yorkers understand that some of the races that are the most essential for our future – like what’s going to happen to the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House, the State Senate here in New York – most of them are not in the five boroughs. People get it. But they also understand how important it is to participate at this moment, to not sit it out, but to show that we are actively involved and engaged.
So, I find there’s a lot of energy for getting out and voting, a lot of people are very hopeful that you’re going to see changes. I believe you’re going to see a Democratic State Senate. I believe you’re going to see a Democratic House of Representatives. And people have gotten engaged not just on the candidate side but also as I’ve talked to them about the ballot measures – their excitement on the notion of making democracy more vibrant through these questions on the back of the ballot.
Kiernan: You’re five years in as Mayor now. You have made trips to other states wanting to be part of the national conversation. Are you feeling left out of that today?
Mayor: Not at all. This has been an amazing year. Look, my goal at the beginning of this election cycle was to help Democrats, help progressives in any way I could, and I’ve tried to be involved in a number of different ways. We’ve held fundraisers here for candidates like Stacey Abrams and Randy Bryce, for example, out in Wisconsin. I’ve gone and campaigned around the country, went down to help Andrew Gillum in Florida. Been focused, here, on our State Senate and our local races.
This is a year that I find to be extraordinary because of that participation, because of that energy, and that the sense that finally some things are going to change. Look, a Democratic State Senate opens the door for stronger rent laws, for fixing our election laws in this state that are amongst the most backwards in the country, for fixing the MTA once and for all and getting our subways to work. I find this to be an extraordinary year.
Kiernan: I have 30 seconds left because you have another interview to run to. Is Amazon going to end up with its headquarters here?
Mayor: Well, you’ll have to ask them. They have not made a final decision that I’ve heard of but I can tell you that it’s been a long detailed process in which the City of New York has tried to make very clear the reasons why this is a great place for a company to be because we have the talent base here – I mean, number one reason. That’s why they said they wanted a second headquarters to begin with [inaudible] talent-based. Also a city now – and we’re proud of this – that’s becoming an international tech hub like never before. I think we’re a good fit for them but they have to make their final decision.
Kiernan: You have 16 minutes to get to Hot 97 for your radio interview. I will let you go.
Mayor: The two places to be in New York City this morning, NY-1 and Hot 97.
Kiernan: Okay. Mayor de Blasio, thanks for being here.