Last week’s mayoral election came and went.
Although the race was a lot closer than expected, with Bloomberg receiving 51 percent of the votes and Thompson receiving 46, the turnout was shockingly abysmal.
According to the Board of Elections, only about 25 percent of registered New York voters actually came out and voted on Election Day, making it quite possibly the lowest voter turnout for a mayoral election in recent history. Had more people voted, it could have effectively changed the outcome, especially since the race turned out to be so close.
This was an important election for New Yorkers, and one that more people should have cared about given the economic condition of the city. Jobs are scarce and there is a record amount of New Yorkers living in homeless shelters, according to the Coalition for the Homeless, an advocacy and service organization.
I was torn between the two candidates until the last minute. Thompson seemed refreshing; I liked what he had to say about education, and I thought that he could offer a fresh perspective on running the city. And the fact that Bloomberg overturned term limits and spent a sickening amount on his campaign (more than $90 million) was off-putting. During their first debate, Bloomberg evaded giving an explanation as to why he was running for a third term, merely stating that if New Yorkers didn’t like what he did, then they didn’t have to vote for him on Election Day. Some people may have not voted that day because they thought Bloomberg had the election in the bag, since he spent so much money on his campaign.
At the same time, though, I felt that Bloomberg had done a good job over the last eight years maintaining, and even improving, the quality of the city. Back in June, the mayor announced that New York City was the safest of the 25 largest cities in the United States and violent crime rates were dropping. Bloomberg has also worked tirelessly for the environment; in 2007, he implemented PlaNYC, partnering with many local colleges and universities, including St. John’s, to make this city a greener place.
But ultimately when I voted last week, the country’s economic recession was the deciding factor for me because I’ll be going out into the job market relatively soon. According to exit polls, “the economy and jobs” were the largest deciding factors for other voters as well.
In his victory speech, Bloomberg addressed the economic crisis by stating: “Now, we’ve come so far in these past few years by staying united, and that’s how we’re going to climb out of this national recession together. Over the past year, in the subway and in diners all around the city, I’ve talked with men and women who are struggling to get by. Some have lost their jobs, others fight every month to pay the rent or the mortgage. I know it’s not easy out there. But I also know this: while we can’t fix the national recession, we can and we will get our city through these tough times. And we’ll come out stronger than ever.”
We’ve seen Bloomberg in action for eight years, and in this time of economic crisis, this city needs stability. Sure, his actions may have been underhanded when it comes to term limits, but I think given the situation we’re in, he’s done a good job, and will hopefully continue doing a good job, as mayor. The city is going through tough times, and we need a strong, dynamic leader who is going to actively work to bring the city out of the economic funk that it’s in right now.
The mayor summed it up best in his victory speech when he spoke about Thompson and his supporters: “…we all agree on a heck of a lot more than we disagree on, especially our love of New York City.”
More New Yorkers should have come out to the polls on Election Day. Regardless of where you stand politically, this was an important election for this city and one that could easily have been affected by more votes.