New York Mayor Bill de Blasio joined the crowded field of Democrats vying for the 2020 presidential nomination Thursday when he announced his plans to run for the White House.
“As president, I will take on the wealthy. I will take on the big corporations. I will not rest until this government serves working people,” he said in a video announcement of his candidacy. “As mayor of the largest city in America, I’ve done just that.”
Here are seven things to know about de Blasio:
- De Blasio was born May 8, 1961, in Manhattan as Warren Wilhelm Jr. He was raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He took his mother’s maiden name, de Blasio, in 1983, after graduating from college, according to Politico. He had originally been named for his father, who he had become estranged from, the news site reported.
- De Blasio earned his bachelor’s degree from New York University. He went on to obtain a master’s degree in International and Public Affairs from Columbia University.
- De Blasio began his work in New York City government after 1989, when he served as volunteer coordinator for David Dinkins’ mayoral campaign.
“I was literally the lowest person on the totem pole,” he told The Huffington Post in 2012. “If you go and find the old organizational chart, I was the lowest ranking, lowest paid.”
After Dinkins won the election, becoming New York City’s first African American mayor, de Blasio became an aide at City Hall. He told the Post the position, which he held for four years, was “foundational for everything I’ve done since then.”
- He was elected in 2002 to serve on New York’s City Council, a role he held for eight years. During his time on the council, he focused on improving public education and expanding affordable housing, among other issues.
- In 2009, New York City voters elected de Blasio to serve as public advocate for the city, a position in which he served “as an ombudsperson for all New Yorkers.”
“I think it was an important opportunity to have checks and balances,” he told Spectrum News NY1 last year. “And public advocates have done that with whoever’s mayor, whether it’s the same party or a different party.”
- De Blasio was elected to serve as New York City mayor in a landslide victory in 2013, besting his nearest rival by a margin of about 49 percentage points, according to The New York Times. He was subsequently reelected to a second term.
- De Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, have two children: Dante and Chiara.