NEW YORK (AP) — Bill de Blasio took the oath of office administered by former President Bill Clinton on Wednesday, formally becoming the 109th mayor of New York City while pledging to pursue a sweeping liberal agenda.
"Big dreams are not a luxury reserved for a privileged few but the animating force behind every community, in every borough," he said in his speech.
The moment was the pinnacle of de Blasio's unlikely political rise as a symbol of restoration for the city's Democrats, who outnumber Republicans 6-to-1 in one of the nation's most liberal cites yet have not controlled City Hall since 1993.
De Blasio, 52, was first sworn in 12 hours earlier at a brief modest ceremony outside his home in Brooklyn's Park Slope neighborhood. Flanked by his wife, Chirlane McCray, and their two teenage children, he was administered the oath by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, signed the official paperwork and, with a broad smile, paid the requisite $9 fee to the city clerk.
The events at City Hall were conducted on a far grander scale.
Clinton was joined by his wife, ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is a presumptive White House front-runner in 2016. Another potential presidential candidate, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, also sat nearby, as did former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, just hours into his first day as a private citizen after spending 12 years in office.
Thousands of people braved low New Year's Day temperatures to salute the new mayor, who was holding a receiving line in City Hall after the ceremony. Two other Democrats were also sworn in to hold citywide offices: Letitia James as public advocate and Scott Stringer as comptroller.
De Blasio thanked his family, supporters and the city for "taking on the elite" and pushing for change.
"When I said we would take dead aim at the tale of two cities, I meant it. And we will do it," he said. "I will honor the faith and trust you have placed in me. And we will give life to the hope of so many in our city. We will succeed ... as one city."
The celebrities in attendance were not just confined to the political world: Singer Harry Belafonte opened the event, while actresses Cynthia Nixon and Patina Miller had starring roles. Scores of "everyday New Yorkers" took part, including 11-year-old Dasani, who was featured in The New York Times' multipart series on homelessness from which de Blasio has repeatedly said he has drawn inspiration.
The inauguration was undeniably political. Speaker after speaker, from Bellafonte to Stringer to James, railed against the city's inequality, delivering sharp rebukes to — though never mentioning by name — Bloomberg, who was sitting just a few feet away. Only Bill Clinton and de Blasio offered praise for the former mayor, whose poll numbers remain relatively high.