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De Blasio sworn in as New York mayor

The Democrat ends billionaire Michael Bloomberg's 12 year term in office, and pledges to narrow city's economic divide.

Last updated: 01 Jan 2014 06:53
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De Blasio was sworn in at a ceremony at his home just after midnight on Wednesday [Reuters]

New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has been sworn in to the position held by Michael Bloomberg for the past 12 years.

De Blasio, a Democrat who campaigned to reduce crime and continue the city's prosperity while reducing the gap between the rich and poor, was sworn in at a ceremony at his home on Wednesday, shortly after midnight.

He will be formally inaugurated later in the day at City Hall, where former US President Bill Clinton will administer the oath of office using a Bible once owned by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Democrats Scott Stringer, the city's new comptroller and Letitia James, the new public advocate, will also be sworn in at the ceremony.

Michael Bloomberg has said that he will remain active in public health, gun control and government innovation [Getty Images]

De Blasio began his career in government working under David Dinkins, the city's first black mayor who was elected in 1986 and was the last Democrat to hold the post. In 2000, when former US first lady Hillary Clinton ran for US senator in New York State, de Blasio was her campaign manager.

He went on to serve two terms on the New York City Council and four years ago was elected public advocate - a citywide office with a budget of just $2m that is generally seen as a springboard for the job of mayor.

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who led the city through its response to the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the recession six years later, and whose policies have been credited with making the city safer, greener and more livable, is leaving City Hall after 12 years.

Bloomberg said he had done everything he could to improve life for more than eight million people in the city.

"Every day over the past 12 years, I've awakened thinking about how to make our city stronger and safer, healthier and greener, freer and fairer, more just and compassionate, more innovative and forward-looking, with more opportunity for all," he said.

Bloomberg has said he will focus on his charitable foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and remain active in public health, gun control and government innovation.

De Blasio's campaign trail

On the campaign trail, de Blasio presented himself as an anti-Bloomberg, decrying the "tale of two cities" that emerged as New York shed its reputation, from the 1970s and 1980s, as a gritty and dangerous place.

After a resounding victory in November with more than 70 percent of the vote, de Blasio has pledged to confront the affordability gap that has led to those in the middle and at the bottom of the economic ladder struggling to pay for basic services such as housing and mass transit.

His signature proposal of creating universal access to pre-Kindergarten and middle school after-school programs depends on the approval - by state lawmakers and Governor Andrew Cuomo - of an income tax increase on the city's highest earners.

De Blasio has also pledged to improve police and community relations to continue New York's historic drop in crime, as well as to fight the closure of community hospitals.

While Bloomberg has left the city with no budget deficit for the current fiscal year, contracts for all of the public sector unions have expired. In a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, de Blasio said he hoped to have the new contracts in place within a year.

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