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De Blasio, Malliotakis court black voters at annual Harlem parade

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Republican mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis march in the 48th Annual African American Day Parade in Harlem, Manhattan, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

The race for mayor made its way through Harlem on Sunday as Democratic incumbent Bill de Blasio and Republican mayoral hopeful Nicole Malliotakis marched in the annual African American Day Parade.

De Blasio, whose strongest support comes from black voters according to polls, told parade-goers in brief remarks that the city would “continue being a city for everyone.”

“We’re going to respect everyone,” de Blasio said before taking aim at President Donald Trump without mentioning his political foe’s name. “We don’t care about what’s happening in Washington D.C. We are going to respect everyone here in New York City.”

Malliotakis, a Staten Island assemblywoman looking to build her name recognition, spent nearly an hour before the parade introducing herself to prospective voters gathered at the start of the parade route, and answering many of their questions one-on-one.

“I want everyone to keep an open mind,” Malliotakis said when Brooklyn resident Ethel K. Wilson-Diallo asked why the GOP candidate’s campaign flier did not mention her Republican affiliation.

Wilson-Diallo, 60, who said she voted for de Blasio four years ago, said she was reluctant to re-elect the mayor for a second term, in part because of his support for the Bedford-Union Armory redevelopment project. Wilson-Diallo, echoing the concerns of many longtime Brooklynites, said she is concerned the project will drive-up rent prices and drive out low and middle-income residents.

De Blasio has said the project, which would refurbish the armory into a 386-unit residential complex with a recreation center, will provide the area with new park facilities, including a swimming pool and soccer field. His administration has also noted that, if the project is approved, a portion of the units will be set aside for affordable housing.

“I’m open to voting for someone who is going to say what they’re going to do,” Wilson-Diallo said when asked if she’d consider voting for Malliotakis after their brief discussion.

Along the parade route, de Blasio shook hands and stopped to pose for pictures with a generally friendly crowd. Several spectators shouted “I voted for you!” as he walked down Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard.

Rachel Ewell, 45, a parade-goer from the Bronx who shook hands with the mayor, said she planned to vote for him again because of his successful effort to provide free Pre-K for all city 4-year-olds. Her daughter and niece are enrolled in the program, she said.

“There’s so much he had to undo, there’s so much he had to change, that four years is not enough time,” Ewell said.

A July 31 Quinnipiac Poll found 70 percent of black city voters polled had a favorable opinion of de Blasio, compared to 3 percent who had a favorable opinion of Malliotakis. The poll, underscoring Malliotakis’ name recognition gap, found 86 percent of black voters had not heard enough about her to rate their approval of her candidacy.


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