NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio is trading City Hall this week for Staten Island Borough Hall.
As CBS2’s Andrea Grymes reported, Staten Island is often called the forgotten borough, and now Mayor de Blasio has set up shop there in a move to take city government on the road.
He will be working there through Friday.
“Really happy to be starting this week here in Staten Island,” the mayor said.
Staten Island is the mayor’s first stop as he kicks off a new initiative called “City Hall in Your Borough.”
“I think what it’s allowing us to do is to go out and hear from people all over Staten Island about their concerns and needs; tell them the things we’re doing,” de Blasio said.
The Democrat is entering Republican waters.
“I don’t know what kind of a reception he’s going to have,” said Carol Helt of Staten Island.
Staten Island voted for President Donald Trump in 2016, and de Blasio’s GOP opponent Joe Lhota in the 2013 mayor race.
Some Staten Islanders even told CBS2 they are glad the mayor came, but they said they were ready to give him an earful.
“Traffic — traffic is terrible,” Helt said.
“He should really get down with the drugs more down here,” said Nancy Calise. “It’s really getting bad — a lot of kids are dying.”
“I’m a retired correction officer a lot of things he’s doing with (Rikers) Island isn’t right,” said Al Forestier of Staten Island. “You can’t close it.”
When asked what it would take to vote for de Blasio this time, Carl Giacalone of Staten Island said, “Well, any man that has to represent New York has to represent the Police Department of New York.”
The mayor is launching a borough-centric initiative just months before he seeks a second term. One of his challengers, Paul Massey, called it a “taxpayer funded campaign stunt.”
But the mayor insisted that it was not. Grymes asked him what he would say to conservatives on Staten Island who think he is trying to win them over before the election.
“No, I’m not here to try to win over folks who philosophically disagree,” he said. “think what would be bothersome would be if I started ignoring this borough because of political differences.”
De Blasio said he plans on taking City Hall on the road to Queens, the Bronx and Brooklyn too, but no dates have been set yet.
As part of his outreach program, mayor was expected to help repave roads on Staten Island Monday night.