Mayor Bill de Blasio Monday defended his practice of speaking tours beyond New York City, arguing that his national focus is "how we change things" locally.
While de Blasio was in Queens to announce an initiative to improve conditions in city homeless shelters, he was scheduled to spend the rest of the week in Washington, D.C., and Northern California, advocating for progressive change.
"We've got to change the dynamics so we can get the federal support we need, and we've got to do the work here every day," he said. "And my job is to do both."
But the mayor's time away from New York City has been met with criticism at home. A Newsday story Monday featured leaders from civic groups who said they wished de Blasio would lead town hall discussions on local issues, not jet set to raise his national profile.
In the past month, the mayor has visited Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin, laying out his proposals for moving the federal government and 2016 presidential candidates leftward.
De Blasio, a Democrat, said he is "open" to the idea of unfiltered public forums, but insisted that he regularly hears the concerns of everyday New Yorkers.
"We do it in a lot of ways, and I'm certainly open to doing it a lot more ways," he said. But, he added, "whether it's walking down the street or in the subway or wherever it may be at different gatherings . . . it's amazing how many conversations I have with people every single day."
He pointed to a meeting last Thursday with City Council members as an example of his interaction with "people who represent a whole host of communities."
Alan Ditchek of Brooklyn's Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association, which hosted de Blasio at a town hall when he was public advocate, and Robert Holden of the Juniper Park Civic Association in Queens, told Newsday they feel de Blasio is neglecting his constituents.
By late Monday, neither had heard from City Hall about their requests for a visit from the mayor.
"Mayor Bloomberg has been to our meetings five separate times, and a lot of past mayors have been here, but maybe you have to wait six months to get a response from this guy," Holden said of de Blasio.
The mayor said New Yorkers can vote him out if they think he hasn't delivered for them.
"They have a really good way to judge me -- they get to have an election in 2017," he said.