UPDATED 10/02/15 5:12 p.m.
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio may be the chief executive of New York City, but when he holds a presidential forum on income inequality this fall, he will travel to Iowa to do it.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, it is hardly the first time. De Blasio has been in office 21 months, and has had one town hall meeting — a parents’ night — in all of that time.
It has become a running joke in certain political circles – what would be an appropriate campaign song for the mayor if he runs again? The suggestions include, “Travelin’ Man,” “On the Road Again,” and “Leaving on a Jet Plane.”
Indeed, it seems the mayor’s thirst for the national stage has rubbed some the wrong way, even among some fellow liberal Democrats.
“When I voted for Bill de Blasio, I voted for him to be here in New York City as an executive, and not to be the face — or the poster boy, so to speak – of progressive politics,” said New York state Assemblyman Matthew Titone (D-Staten Island).
Titone stiffly criticized de Blasio’s decision to hold the presidential forum in Iowa. He offered the mayor “tough love” advice, saying de Blasio should stay home and deal with local problems such as homelessness, the schools, and the 9/11 first responders who are now threatened with loss of federal medical benefits as the Zadroga Act has expired.
“For me, it’s frustrating that he would portray to be the voice of this liberal Democrat, as well as many others, while the city right now is in need of executive authority,” Titone said.
In his 21 months in office, the mayor has been the quintessential “travelin’ man,” not only going to Nebraska; Washington, D.C. and Iowa, but also to Italy, Paris and the Vatican.
But his decision to return to Iowa for the presidential forum appears to have touched a raw nerve, given that he has only had one town hall meeting in New York City.
“I think town hall meetings in New York City are just a great tradition,” said city Comptroller Scott Stringer. “Mayors from Koch to Giuliani to Dinkins couldn’t get enough of the interaction with people.”
So Stringer is going to provide a little local competition for de Blasio’s Iowa forum.
“We’re going to be doing a town hall meeting on the same night in this city, in Brooklyn,” Stringer said. “I think it’s so crucial that we use this opportunity to talk about urban America and to showcase the struggles, but yet the aspirations, of our great city of New York.”
De Blasio’s political opponents also called on the mayor to focus on the city.
“Crime’s going up, quality of life is going down, and the public schools are a real embarrassment,” said New York State GOP Chairman Ed Cox. “He needs to come here and pay attention to the people of this city.”
Added Anthony Arias of Harlem, “He should have stayed in New York, but he does bonehead stuff like that all the time.”
On a radio show Thursday, the mayor defended holding the forum in Iowa, saying he wants the candidates to talk about what they do for cities and what federal investments they will make in urban America.