Public Advocate Bill de Blasio officially announced his Democratic candidacy for mayor Sunday afternoon, telling supporters gathered in front of his home in Park Slope, Brooklyn that he would be a "mayor for our neighborhoods."
Introduced by his wife Chirlane and son Dante in front of their family home of two decades, de Blasio said he wants to be the first mayor to have a child in the public school system while serving in office. He stressed his own humble background and childhood in a one-parent household, and said he would fight for the working class people who live outside of Manhattan.
"It requires average New Yorkers who simply refuse to allow their community voices to be stifled. Its their spirit that I intend to sweep into City Hall. A spirit that shouts that all boroughs were created equal," de Blasio said.
De Blasio, who was elected public advocate in 2009 after serving in the City Council, said he supported some of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's policies, such as public health initiatives and mayoral control of the Department of Education, but said other policies by the Bloomberg administration have harmed the city.
"This city is not living up to its potential. Not by a long shot," de Blasio said, noting that one in five city residents live in poverty. "We've gotten so used to the elitists of City Hall that the notion of government of and for and by our neighborhoods may seen to have perished."
De Blasio's mayoral platform includes raising taxes on the wealthy to pay for universal pre-kindergarten classes and getting the New York City Police Department to reduce and reform its use of stop-and-frisks.
He also wants friendlier relations between City Hall and the teachers' union and more favorable policies for small business owners.
Recently, de Blasio also criticized the Bloomberg administration's response to Hurricane Sandy.
Without mentioning names, the new mayoral candidate attacked his Democratic rivals during his first campaign speech. He said some were too willing to continue Bloomberg's policies -- hinting at the Democratic forerunner, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn -- or only appeared during election years -- making a subtle dig at former City Comptroller Bill Thompson.
"There are really differences among the Democratic candidates," de Blasio said. "And the choice we make among them will define our future."
Before serving on the City Council, de Blasio worked as a staffer under former Mayor David Dinkins, was part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and was the campaign manager for Hillary Clinton's first U.S. Senate campaign.
Some supporters view de Blasio as the candidate who is farthest to the left.
"I am just a huge fan of Bill de Blasio. I want him to be the next mayor of New York City," said actor Cynthia Nixon, who attend the Sunday rally in Park Slope. "I think he would be one of the most progressive mayors New York City's ever known."
The public advocate is building his candidacy around his block, saying he is the one that can best represent the city's neighborhoods.
"We deserve a city government that actually believes in our neighborhoods," said de Blasio.
In fact, after his announcement, NY1 found the public advocate around the corner at a local diner, eating eggs with his family.
Not all of the public advocate's neighbors, however, were sold on his candidacy.
"They really don't have much of a presence on the block. My partner and I really want to see Christine Quinn become the next mayor. She has heart and a brain that both function at the same time," said Robin Epstein, a neighbor of de Blasio.
A Quinnipiac poll of likely city Democratic voters released last week finds de Blasio only has support from only 11 percent of respondents, placing him a far second behind Quinn, who gets the nod from 35 percent of respondents.
Before Sunday, former City Comptroller Bill Thompson and former City Councilman Sal Albanese had declared intentions to run on the Democratic ticket, and City Comptroller John Liu is also expected to join the primary race.
Former Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joe Lhota and newspaper publisher Tom Allon have announced they are running as Republicans.