US & Canada

Profile: New York Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio

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Media captionBill de Blasio on victory: "Our work is just beginning"

New York's mayor is a liberal who started his career in the politics of America's biggest city during the leadership of its first black mayor.

Bill de Blasio, 52, has made the centrepieces of his early tenure promises to stem the city's rising income inequality and reform a city police policy that critics say violates the civil rights of minorities.

In November, Mr de Blasio, a Democrat, defeated Republican candidate Joe Lhota by a 49-point margin, one of the largest in the city's modern history.

He had already survived a nine-way Democratic mayoral primary.

He is New York's first Democratic mayor since 1993, in charge of governing one of the world's most high-profile metropolises and its diverse, often quarrelsome population of 8.3 million people.

Latin American politics

Mr de Blasio was born in New York's Manhattan borough in 1961, then raised in Massachusetts by his mother's family after his parents divorced. His father, a troubled Navy veteran, later killed himself after being diagnosed with incurable lung cancer.

His original name was Warren Wilhelm Jr. Mr de Blasio later took his mother's maiden name.

He returned to New York to study Latin American politics at New York University and later gained a master's degree in international affairs from Columbia University.

The internationally minded young Mr de Blasio travelled to Nicaragua as part of a social justice group in the 1980s.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Bill de Blasio's family were especially active in his campaign for mayor

According to the New York Times, he was once an admirer of the country's ruling Sandinistas - at a time when President Ronald Reagan was harshly criticising the party.

In 1989, Mr de Blasio joined the mayoral campaign of David Dinkins, who was soon elected New York City's first black leader. He then joined Mr Dinkins's city hall staff.

While working for Mr Dinkins, Mr de Blasio met his future wife, Chirlane McCray, an African-American writer and political activist who had previously identified as a lesbian. They married in 1994 and have two children, Chiara and Dante.

President Bill Clinton appointed him to be a regional director of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) during the 1990s.

He re-entered New York City politics by successfully running for the school board in his neighbourhood in the borough of Brooklyn.

'Clean break' from Bloomberg

Shortly afterwards he became campaign manager for Hillary Clinton's successful 2000 run for the US Senate, though he did not follow her to Washington.

Instead, Mr de Blasio was elected to New York City Council in 2001, representing an area of Brooklyn that was both increasingly wealthy and increasingly diverse.

After two terms in the council, Mr de Blasio was elected as the city's public advocate - a sort of all-city ombudsman - often placing him in direct opposition to Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

He entered a crowded Democratic primary in the 2013 mayoral race advocating for increased income taxes on wealthier New Yorkers to fund education programmes and a "clean break" from the Bloomberg era.

His rise to the top of the primary pack was aided by the implosion of the campaign of former Congressman Anthony Weiner.

His biracial son Dante also appeared in a crucial television ad which promised Mr de Blasio would end New York's controversial stop-and-frisk policy, which has been criticised over disproportionate targeting of black and Hispanic men.

He took office on 1 January 2014 and soon cheered his liberal supporters by declaring he would boycott an annual St Patrick's Day parade because its organisers forbid marchers from carrying gay-pride signs.

In his first major policy speech as mayor in early February, he again reiterated the themes that won him election, pledging his administration would "honour" the work of all New Yorkers, not just the wealthy, and vowing that undocumented immigrants would not be forced to live and work "in the shadows".

Image copyright AP
Image caption The Mayor-elect has promised to "break" with the policies of his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg (right)

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