With de Blasio’s presidential bid over, NYers say he should focus on these NYC issues

Mayor Bill de Blasio should focus on improving transit, cost of living, affordable housing and public access to greenspaces now that he's no longer running for president, according to New Yorkers. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Residents say it’s time for Mayor Bill de Blasio to focus on quality of life concerns after he ended his bid for the Oval Office on Friday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio should focus on improving transit, cost of living, affordable housing and public access to greenspaces now that he's no longer running for president, according to New Yorkers.
Mayor Bill de Blasio should focus on improving transit, cost of living, affordable housing and public access to greenspaces now that he’s no longer running for president, according to New Yorkers. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Justin Sullivan

Mayor Bill de Blasio may no longer be running for president but there’s still plenty of work to be done in New York City.

In announcing the end of his presidential bid Friday morning, de Blasio said he felt he contributed all he could to the Democratic primary but that it was “clearly” not his time.

“So I’m going to end my presidential campaign, continue my work as mayor of New York City and I’m gonna keep speaking up for working people," he said on MSNBC’s "Morning Joe."

As de Blasio turns his full attention back to the city, New Yorkers had some ideas on what the mayor should focus on, including mass transit, the cost of living, affordable housing and public greenspace.

“The subway and housing are important,” said Kareen Taylor Bates, 31, of Harlem. “The subway is a big problem because every day there is an issue with the subway, and I feel like they need to improve on that.”

While the MTA is a state-run agency, de Blasio does wield some power in the form of funding allocations as well as several appointees to the MTA board, which oversees the transit authority.

Gramercy resident Erich Marcks said de Blasio could do a better job of working with Gov. Andrew Cuomo to improve subway service.

“I think [de Blasio] could improve his relationship with Andrew Cuomo in several regards, but specifically if they could work together on this I think it would definitely be beneficial,” Marcks, 35, said. “We definitely need more resources and more money poured into the MTA so they can improve across the board.”

The MTA has made strides toward improving service over the past two years. MTA data released earlier this month show subway service in August was the most reliable it has been in the last six years, and the number of delays dropped by 52% compared to August 2018.

The statistics, however, don’t seem to correlate to commuters’ experiences.

“I think improving transportation and the subway system [is important]," said 34-year-old Brian Record, of Greenwich Village. "There seems to be an awful lot of delays and it would be great to refocus our energies on that."

Above ground, Upper West Side resident Niza Yanay said she’d like to see de Blasio work on making cultural spaces more easily accessible for low-income New Yorkers.

“Public spaces and the parks, I think he should extend the focus on greenspaces and places where people from poor families can go and enjoy culture and participate in cultural events that are free,” the 68-year-old said. “There are many possibilities but I think that extending it and making it a focus is very important. It also promotes a city’s cultural collaboration.”

Affordable housing and cost of living in New York City were other big issues on the minds of New Yorkers Friday morning.

“It’s hard for someone who doesn’t have great credit to get an apartment,” Taylor Bates said. “Even if it’s affordable, it’s still difficult. You have to pay extra money … like two months’ rent for a deposit."

Andrew Martinez, 41, said more could be done to keep the cost of living in check.

“For me, being a young family in New York … quality of life and the balance between how crazy and outrageous the cost of living is and just trying to make it,” he said as he pushed his son in a stroller through Bryant Park. “Anything from the price of homeownership and rentals to raising a child — all of that.”

Martinez added that he feels the mayor has done a good job with addressing some of the racial justice and inequality issues in the city. "I think it’s great.”

De Blasio is about halfway through his second and final term as the city’s mayor. The next mayoral election will take place in 2021, and some hopefuls have already thrown their hats into the ring.

Lauren Cook