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‘Will not wait’ on inequality, Bill de Blasio tells New York

Bill De Blasio was ceremonially sworn in as the 109th mayor by former president Bill Clinton Wednesday. With them were De Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, and children, Chiara and Dante.

Carlo Allegri/REUTERS

Bill De Blasio was ceremonially sworn in as the 109th mayor by former president Bill Clinton Wednesday. With them were De Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, and children, Chiara and Dante.

NEW YORK — Claiming his place as the 109th mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio delivered an inaugural address Wednesday that focused on the issue of inequality, promising that the attention he gave to the subject when he was running for office was not merely campaign rhetoric.

Outside City Hall — in front of an audience that included members of his family, luminaries like former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton, and hundreds of New Yorkers — de Blasio spoke of the city’s history of embracing liberal causes, and he laid out a mayoralty that emphasized social and economic justice.

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“We are called to put an end to economic and social inequalities that threaten to unravel the city we love,” he said. “And so today, we commit to a new progressive direction in New York. And that same progressive impulse has written our city’s history. It’s in our DNA.”

He called on “millions of everyday New Yorkers, in every corner of our city,” for their help.

“Our work begins now,” de Blasio told the audience, saying he would push for the development of affordable housing, the preservation of local hospitals, and the expansion of prekindergarten.

De Blasio, 52, was formally sworn in shortly after midnight in front of his family’s rowhouse in Brooklyn. Later Wednesday, he was ceremonially sworn in by Bill Clinton, in whose administration he had served as a regional official in the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

He spoke for about 20 minutes, during a ceremony that began with hip-hop music and ended with an invitation for New Yorkers to meet the new mayor.

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A Democrat, de Blasio begins his term as an emblem of resurgent liberalism, offering hope to progressive activists and officeholders across the country — but also as an untested chief executive whose management of the city will be closely scrutinized.

Previously the city’s public advocate and before that a city councilor, de Blasio rose out of obscurity in a crowded Democratic primary field as he shaped his campaign around the “tale of two cities” — a succinct summation of the rising income inequality he vowed he would urgently address as the next mayor.

“We will make this one city,” de Blasio said in his inaugural address. “And that mission, our march toward a fairer, more just, more progressive place, our march to keep the promise of New York alive for the next generation, it begins today.”

The mayor also spoke of his proposal to expand prekindergarten and after-school programs by increasing taxes on high-earning New Yorkers.

“We do not ask more of the wealthy to punish success,” he said. “We do it to create more success stories.”

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