Tuesday's election signaled a political sea change in New York City as voters chose a candidate who repeatedly emphasized his progressive vision. The city's public advocate, Bill de Blasio, crushed Republican Joe Lhota in the mayoral race to replace billionaire mayor Mike Bloomberg. De Blasio is set to become the first Democrat to lead the city in two decades. During his campaign, de Blasio's signature message focused on what he called a "tale of two cities" and challenge the police department's controversial "stop-and-frisk" program.
Mayor-elect de Blasio rose to power with the help of the Working Families Party, an independent political coalition sponsored by labor unions and focused on reducing social and political inequality. Democracy Now! spoke at length with the party's executive director, Dan Cantor, to discuss the election.
"We are living in the world Occupy made," says Dan Cantor, executive director of the Working Families Party. "We are the beneficiaries of what they did in terms of making this [about] inequality, which is from my point of view the core issue of our time."
The party's grassroots organizing efforts are not limited to New York. It recently won landmark legislation to tackle the student debt crisis in Oregon, fought the corporate education reform agenda in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and won paid sick days in Jersey City, New Jersey. Voters in New Jersey also approved a constitutional amendment to raise the minimum wage by a dollar to $8.25 an hour and add automatic cost-of-living increases each year.