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New York City Mayorbriefly addressed his decision to sign a bill allowing noncitizens to vote in city elections despite having issues with it.
In an interview withde Blasio admitted that he is not 100% behind the concept of allowing noncitizens to vote, then immediately shifted to what he said is a more pressing concern: dealing with the pandemic.
“I have mixed feelings. I’ve been very open about this law, and I think there are big legal questions, but I also respect the City Council. They made a decision,” de Blasio said.
This echoed what he told a local radio show in September – months before the council approved the bill – in which he claimed the council likely does not have the legal authority to pass such a measure and that doing so would discourage people from becoming citizens.
The bill will allow roughly 800,000 noncitizens to vote in city elections, including green card holders and those with work authorization, provided they have lived in the city for at least 30 consecutive days before an election.
As mayor, de Blasio has the power to veto the bill, but he made clear that he is not interested in doing so.
The mayor acknowledged that “this is an important issue,” but said his “central issue” is overcoming COVID-19 and the omicron variant.
“That’s where my focus is,” de Blasio said.
De Blasio also addressed his controversial vaccine mandate for private sector workers. The mayor defended mandates in general, stating that every mandate he has imposed has resulted in more people being vaccinated, and as a result, “the city is open and thriving.”
The mayor also claimed that despite increased numbers in several violent crime categories, New York City is “a much safer city than we were eight years ago.”
According to NYPD statistics, the city has had more murders and rapes to date in 2021 than in 2013, although the total numbers of “index crimes” – murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, grand larceny and grand larceny of an automobile are down. Index crimes in 2021 are up by more than 1,000 compared to 2020, which de Blasio described as a “horrible patch” during the pandemic.
The mayor, who will leave office when his term ends at the end of the year, now has his sights on the governor’s office. While he has yet to officially announce his candidacy in the Democratic primary race against incumbent Acting Gov. Kathy Hochul and others, de Blasio admitted he’s considering it despite low poll numbers.
“Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace pointed to polling data showing that just 6% supported him compared to 36% for Hochul, and that 55% had an unfavorable view of him.
De Blasio was unfazed, stating that the low numbers at such an early date “pretty much reminds me of every election I’ve ever been in,” and he is used to being an underdog.
“It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish,” he said.