New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has picked his wife to lead one of the task forces planning for the city’s eventual reopening.
De Blasio announced on Sunday that New York City’s first lady Chirlane McCray will co-chair the Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity, according to the New York Post. Deputy Mayor J. Phillip Thompson will join McCray in leading the committee.
“The ideas originated here from Deputy Mayor Thompson of why a task force like this could be crucial at this moment when we have to make sure every part of the city government is coordinated in addressing the immediate disparities,” de Blasio said in a statement, explaining why he chose McCray and Thompson to lead the task force.
“The first lady, when she became involved in those discussions, added a set of ideas as to how this could be played out and the urgency that was needed,” de Blasio continued. “As we had the discussions over the last few days, it was clear to me that the two of them were the perfect people to bring this larger effort together.”
Local officials suggested that de Blasio’s decision to put his wife on the task force was ultimately a political maneuver, as she is reportedly considering a run to be the borough of Brooklyn’s next president.
“This is political. I wish de Blasio would stop doing this,” NYC Councilman Robert Holden, a Democrat, told the New York Post. “Let her win the Brooklyn borough presidency on her own merits.”
“Her track record on Thrive and the statue commission hasn’t been so good,” he said, referencing two previous initiatives that she has spearheaded for the city.
Republican Councilman Joe Borelli also questioned the decision and McCray’s credentials. Borelli has struggled with ThriveNYC, an initiative to treat mental health in the city started by McCray. The councilman has alleged that the group, which has received hundreds of millions in taxpayer funds from the city, has done nothing to address mental health concerns among the city’s police force.
Last year, Police Commissioner James O’Neill said the NYC Police Department was in “crisis” as the rate of suicides among officers roughly doubled over the previous year.
“Chirlane doesn’t have an impressive track record running task forces or agencies … This is too serious an issue to use it as profile raiser,” Borelli said, referring to her rumored run for president of Brooklyn.
When asked whether McCray’s leadership of ThriveNYC gave de Blasio any misgivings about her ability to head a task force responsible with a part of New York City’s reopening, de Blasio defended his wife and said her experience running the mental health initiative qualified her for the job.
“I think what Chirlane has done over these last six years is take this issue, put it in the light, open up access for millions of people and then continue to build out a structure that could focus on effective delivery and equity,” de Blasio said.
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