During just 100 days in office, Mayor Bill de Blasio persuaded state lawmakers to bankroll a campaign pledge to vastly expand prekindergarten, claiming, in his own words, a "historic victory."
But de Blasio's first three months have also been marked by some amateur missteps, according to political observers, and the mayor still faces significant hurdles in the days ahead.
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"He's getting his footing," said Christina Greer, an assistant professor of political science at Fordham University. "That's not easy after a 12-year reign of an individual that had a certain control over people."
Greer said de Blasio's inexperience was particularly apparent in his dealings with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who spurned several of the mayor's proposals, such as raising taxes on wealthy New Yorkers to fund prekindergarten and after school programs.
"No mayor has ever run New York City without having some people in New York City unhappy with some things that they've done," First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris said of the criticisms. "That's life in New York."
Shorris said the de Blasio administration has fulfilled several key campaign promises, most notably universal prekindergarten.
Even without the proposed tax hike, the city's securing of $300 million for prekindergarten in the state budget was widely recognized by observers as an early success for the mayor. De Blasio's display of leadership after a deadly explosion in East Harlem and legislation to expand the number of workers eligible for paid sick days were also noted.
"He didn't necessarily get all that he wanted, but, in a sense, he fulfilled the spirit of his campaign promises," Baruch College political science professor Doug Muzzio said.
De Blasio, who was not available for an interview, will commemorate successes in his first 100 days and discuss what's to come during a speech Thursday at Cooper Union in Manhattan.
In the next few months, the administration will focus on affordable housing, raising wages and workplace benefits, reducing fines on small businesses and increasing broadband access, according to Shorris.
"We would be the first to admit we didn't accomplish everything the mayor promised in the first 100 days of his administration," Shorris said, noting that "important steps" have still been taken.
De Blasio's biggest challenge may be open contracts for the city's municipal unions, and new agreements could cost billions in back pay or wage increases, said Nicole Gelinas, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
Negotiations with the unions are underway, according to Harry Nespoli, president of the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association and head of the Municipal Labor Committee, which represents the city's public sector unions.
"Just that alone is a plus for all the unions — that we're back to bargaining again," Nespoli said.
Going forward, the business community is eager to see how the administration plans to compete with other cities for jobs and talent, said Kathryn Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City, a nonprofit business association. Wylde said business leaders are also looking forward to discussing the city's business climate, regulations and other issues with officials.
"We are hopeful that those are conversations that will take place in the coming months," she said.
New Yorkers themselves are mixed about the direction the city is going, according to a New York Times/NY1/Siena College poll released earlier this week. Roughly half of city residents polled believe things in the city are generally going in the right direction, while 42 percent said they "feel things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track."
The poll, which had a margin of error plus or minus 2.8 percent, also found New Yorkers mixed on de Blasio's handling of his job, with 49 percent approving.
"He's not doing great and he's not doing terrible — he's doing okay," Muzzio said, commenting on the poll results.
In the past and future, Shorris said he believed New Yorkers will judge de Blasio on his accomplishments.
"Elections have consequences and our election reflected a public demand for some change," he said, adding, "I think we've demonstrated that we've made some real progress."
But Greer cautioned that New Yorkers might want to see a change again.
"Let's be clear: If in two years things aren't better, he's looking at another election," Greer said. "There's enough people waiting in the wings."
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