While Mayor Bill de Blasio spends the foreseeable future hopping around the country on the campaign trail, one man will be in charge of the city’s day-to-day operations.
Deputy Mayor Dean Fuleihan will be responsible for mayoral duties whenever de Blasio is out of town, according to city rules. But a political expert says New Yorkers will barely notice any difference.
Christina Greer, an associate professor of political science at Fordham University, said Fuleihan’s transition to a more formal role of deputy mayor in charge during the campaign would be smooth considering his more than 40 years of experience in New York politics.
Fuleihan, who joined the administration in 2014 as the city’s budget director, has already been holding down the fort during the mayor’s trips to Iowa, South Carolina and other states this year.
"I am quite optimistic [about him], because the mayor, for the most part, has hired excellent people," Greer said.
Fuleihan began his career as a policy analyst for the state Assembly in 1978 and was the Assembly’s principal staff negotiator for the state budget, according to his bio on the mayor’s website.
His current duties include advising the mayor on managing the NYPD, the Department of Education and the Department of Investigation. He personally oversees several departments including the Office of Management and Budget, the Office of Labor Relations and the Office of Climate Policy and Programs.
The last time a New York City deputy mayor was left in charge of government operations due to a mayoral presidential campaign was when Sidney Davidoff assumed the role during Mayor John Lindsay’s failed 1972 bid.
Greer said Fuleihan and de Blasio have probably worked out plans just in case any major events occur in the city, and the mayor will still have his ear to the ground in the Big Apple.
During his appearance on NY1’s Inside City Hall on May 6, de Blasio reassured host Errol Louis that he would be able to handle any pressing issues while on the road, and he said his staff and modern communications would keep him in the loop 24/7.
"I’m also confident in my ability to make decisions and keep things moving forward wherever I am because I have traveled before and I’ve had to give orders from wherever I was," he said.