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Yetta Kurland Headshot

Countdown to a New Year in New York City

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This is for my progressives. My fellow activists and outside the boxers who are rightfully disillusioned with the electoral process, but courageous enough to stay in the game.

Tomorrow morning, we take a big step forward.

Many of us could not have imagined the spin of 2013 that led us to a new chapter in NYC. Tomorrow, we will welcome the first ever African-American woman to Citywide office, and a fierce progressive as our city's first Democratic Mayor in over 20 years.

This would not be possible without the work so many have done during the Bloomberg years to stand up to injustice and imagine what City Hall could look like if it reflected more of our values. Lest we forget what Mayor Bloomberg brought us I have compiled my top 10 list. I encourage you to add to it;

10. New Yorkers wanting to exercise their First Amendment right to freely assemble must get prior permission from the NYPD.

9. A racist, ineffective policy of Stop and Frisk.

8. A serious fiscal deficit that Mayor de Blasio will now have to fix.

7. A third term despite two referenda and a promise to respect the will of the people.

6. A loss of more affordable housing than in any administration in NYC history.

5. Countless "Public-Private" partnerships that wrongfully use eminent domain to divest the public of resources rather than protect them.

4. Millions of dollars wasted by the City defending wrongful, unconstitutional arrests of thousands of New Yorkers from the RNC to Occupy and more.

3. The closure of a dozen NYC hospitals, including St. Vincent's.

2. Ignoring a court order to let protesters back into Zuccotti Park.

1. Suing to overturn a Supreme Court Judge's ruling for Marriage Equality in New York, and quoting Leviticus in the legal briefs to do so.

I could go on. But here is my point -- we now have a profound chance to do something different. So what is it about us idealistic lefties that make us want to hate on everything before it has even started, tear it down before we try to build it up?

Caught between the grumblings of those who worry de Blasio will turn this city back into the crime-ridden haven of graffiti of the 1980s (really?) and our left leaning friends who bemoan the appointment of Police Commissioner Bratton (when I ask who instead they thought should be NYPD Commissioner they can never seem to give me an answer) one has to wonder what is going to make New York City happy in 2014? Have we forgotten the Bloomberg administration we leave behind or are we just too steeped in the cult of personality to direct our ire anywhere other than our new leaders?

What if we could focus our concerns on the system itself rather than being intolerant of those we elect to represent us? In other words, what would it look like if we chose in 2014 to set our newly elected officials up for success?

This city deserves strong progressive leadership to start to put into place some of the innovative ideas that are already out there. For example, the state of Utah (Yes, Utah) is on the road to ending homelessness by providing people with homes and counseling. Cincinnati has dramatically improved schools and student outcomes by providing holistic "wraparound" services to children and families. Los Angeles has dramatically reduced its carbon footprint and energy consumption, and created many living-wage jobs in the process. This and more can happen here, with the leadership of people like Bill de Blasio (and dare i suggest Melissa Mark-Viverito?) but only if we show up for it.

If Occupy Wall Street taught the political class anything, it is that we must commit to a process in our politics. If President Obama taught us activists anything it is that one elected official does not a democracy make, but working together we can achieve greatness in government and inroads such as marriage equality, Lily Ledbetter and the Dream Act.

We must commit to being part of the process of change. Too often we Democrats figure out how we fail, and fail to notice when we succeed.

To that end, lest we not forget, here is my top 10 list for Bill de Blasio. Again please feel free to add;

10. Stood up against the extension of term limits, and sued to stop it.

9. Stood in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street.

8. Is a committed feminist who has appointed as many women as men to the powerful government positions of this city.

7. One of the strongest voices fighting for Child Services.

6. Stood up for marriage equality and LGBTQ rights even when it was not politically expedient to do so.

5. The first elected official I saw in the Rockaways after Super Storm Sandy hit -- and he didn't just show up for photo op.

4. Deeply committed to racial justice issues and an early, strong voice opposing Stop and Frisk.

3. Stood with our communities against the closure of hospitals.

2. Has pledged to ban carriage horses in NYC and is a committed advocate for animals.

1. Is deeply intelligent, humble and a passionate public servant.

We have serious work to do to correct systematic problems in this city, to combat sexism, racism and homophobia and make sure that working and middle class New Yorkers can exist. And at times, we will find ourselves in opposition to, as well as in support of, the new administration. But of course we challenge, we push the envelope and we fight for social justice. Now we get to do it with a friend in City Hall.

A Happy New Year indeed.