Optimistic de Blasio inspired by New York election turnout, hopeful for change in Washington

Mayor Bill de Blasio waits votes early in the presidential election at the Park Slope Armory YMCA on Tuesday, October 27, 2020.
Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

The strength and success of New York City’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic rides on the results of the 2020 presidential election, Mayor Bill de Blasio remarked on Election Day.

“The stakes couldn’t be higher,” de Blasio remarked at the start of his daily press briefing with reporters on Nov. 3. “This election will decide whether we get a stimulus or not, that we get the kind of stimulus that will help move this city forward.”

The mayor hoped that Joe Biden, if elected president, would provide a far more friendlier ear and economic relief than President Trump, who has repeatedly dissed his hometown and denied the kind of financial aid New York has needed to get beyond the financial strife related to the pandemic.

De Blasio said he has drawn inspiration not just by how New Yorkers responded to the health crisis, but the outpouring of participation in the 2020 election. More than 1.1 million New Yorkers voted early, and long lines were reported at many of the 14,000 polling places when voting began on Tuesday.

Deputy Mayor Phil Thompson reported few issues so far at polling sites across New York City — but noted that some sites wound up opening late.

“We reported these problems to the Board of Elections. As the mayor has said, we will follow up on ways to reform the Board of Elections because New Yorkers deserve better,” Thompson said.

Regardless of the election outcome, de Blasio felt a sense of optimism in the city’s ability to rally around each other and pull through strife.

“I personally have been so moved over these years watching how the people of this city and all over the country have responded to an absolutely unprecedented challenge,” the mayor remarked. “It could have caused people to become depressed or overwhelmed, but I’ve seen people fighting back, and I have to tell you, it has renewed my sense of the strength of our democracy, the sense of community that people have. People care.”

Of course, the outcome of this election may not be immediately known. New York City alone has more than 1 million absentee ballots to verify and count — and while that may not tip the state’s presidential contest, it will impact all the down-ballot races involving Congressional, Assembly and state Senate seats.

The election results may also spark unrest in the city; scores of buildings across Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn have been boarded up in anticipation of post-election protests. 

De Blasio said that neither he nor the NYPD were aware of any credible threats of unrest, but if there are protests to come, he encouraged New Yorkers to act peacefully, refrain from violence and report any individuals causing harm to life or property.

“If there is going to be protest, as always, it needs to be peaceful,” he said. “It will always be respected and facilitated. It is the responsibility of government to step in if anyone commits an act of violence. … Don’t let anyone create the wrong atmosphere.”

Stay with amNY.com all day Tuesday for Election Day coverage.

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