NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — In his victory speech as mayor-elect of New York City on Tuesday night, Democrat Bill de Blasio declared a mandate to repair the inequality he said has left the city suffering, and said as mayor, “I work for you.”
De Blasio, currently the city’s public advocate, on Tuesday night became the first member of his party to be elected to the office since 1989.
In addressing the crowd at his Park Slope headquarters, he talked about the need for a commitment to rise to “the challenge of our time.” That challenge, he said, is inequality.
“I’ve spoken throughout this campaign of a tale of two cities. That inequality, that feeling of a few doing very well, while so many have slipped further behind, that is the defining challenge of our times,” de Blasio said.
The problem needs to be addressed, or the city will suffer, de Blasio said.
“Our greatness is not accidental, but neither is it inevitable,” he said. “To maintain that greatness, and to ensure that our brightest days are ahead of us, we must commit ourselves to progressive ideas that will lift us all up,” he said.
De Blasio told his supporters that achieving his progressive mandate would not be easy, but he would not rest until it was undertaken.
“New York’s resilience is legendary, our toughness is unmatched, and our will is unbreakable,” he said. “So I say to you tonight, the road ahead will be difficult, but it will be traveled.”
He continued: “I will never stop fighting for the city I love – the city we all love so much — and I will never forget that as mayor, I work for you.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a statement congratulating him.
“Tonight New York City voters have opened an exciting new chapter in our State’s largest city with the election of incoming Mayor Bill de Blasio,” Cuomo said. “On a personal level, it is particularly gratifying to see Bill, a true friend and former colleague, win tonight. He has the experience to run New York City, a compelling vision for its future and he and his family epitomize the New York story. As New York City’s next Mayor, I know Bill will be a tremendous partner in moving this great City forward.”
Earlier, Republican Joe Lhota conceded the race, using a biblical quote to sum up his campaign.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have kept the faith,” he said.
Lhota said he would “not spend one moment of my future regretting what might have been,” but he also expressed concern about maintaining the stability of the city.
“Our city has been transformed over the last two decades. Crime is at historical lows. The economy has expanded, and we have seen emerging industries that are providing not just jobs, but good-paying jobs,” and those all must be maintained, Lhota said.
During the campaign, Lhota repeatedly expressed concern that if the stop-and-frisk critic de Blasio became mayor, the city would return to a crime-ridden, decaying state reminiscent of the 1970s, ’80s and early ’90s.
Lhota said the mission now is to look ahead.
“New Yorkers never quit. New Yorkers never surrender. New Yorkers never hide from history. New Yorkers make history, so let’s move forward,” Lhota said.
As CBS 2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, the minute the polls closed at 9 p.m., a crowd packed the de Blasio’s headquarters in hopes of a victory announcement.
Meanwhile, Lhota’s campaign had squeezed into a nightclub in Midtown. On the record, his campaign remained optimistic for an upset until he conceded.
Election Day was the beginning of the city’s farewell to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who helped define New York since 2002. Voters had a choice between two different visions for the future.
“I think the city is ready for a new face, new energy, new approaches, and that’s what we’re going to get” said former New York City Comptroller Harrison J. Goldin.
PHOTOS: Election Day 2013
Earlier in the day, Lhota was accompanied by his wife, Tamra, as he cast his vote in Brooklyn. He voted by paper ballot, which he said is probably faster than voting by machine.
LINK: NYC Board Of Elections
De Blasio’s family joined him as he cast his ballot Tuesday at a public library branch in Brooklyn. He said his daughter, Chiara, surprised him by flying home from college to vote with her parents.
“I opened the door this morning, and Chiara jumped out from behind the trash cans and surprised me,” de Blasio told reporters, including CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer. “And this is the greatest gift I could have on Election Day to have my daughter with us today.
“I was not sleeping in,” de Blasio said of being late for a morning appearance. “I was surprised by my daughter arriving from 3,000 miles away, and we spent some family time together first. Sorry, Joe Lhota.”
De Blasio’s family has played a big role in his campaign. Both Chiara and son Dante have appeared in commercials for their father.
Lhota, a former aide to Rudy Giuliani and ex-MTA head, largely sought to continue the policies of Bloomberg and his former boss. De Blasio wanted a break from the Bloomberg years and is calling for improved community-police relations and a tax increase on the rich.
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