EDITORIAL: Hey, Bill! Can the campaign

For many New Yorkers, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s delayed response to the Manhattan blackout on July 13 — as he continued his quixotic campaign for president a thousand miles away in Iowa — was the last straw.

Since the days when Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia rode on a police motorcycle sidecar to get to major incidents around town during the Great Depression, New Yorkers have come to expect their mayors to be on the spot for any major crisis that may strike.

But when the lights went out in Manhattan on Saturday night July 13 — trapping people in elevators, suspending subway service in Queens and beyond, and bringing the heart of the city to a standstill — de Blasio was nowhere to be found.

Mayor de Blasio speaking at Lower East Side town hall in 2017, when he pledged the city would try to regain control of the old P.S. 64, a former Puerto Rican-led arts and community center, at E. Ninth St. and Avenue B. (File photo by Tequila Minsky)

While on yet another taxpayer-funded junket in his long-shot quest to become president, he phoned in the response, then waited hours before deciding he should get out of Iowa and come back to the city he was elected to serve.

But by the time he returned, the crisis was long over. Surrogate leaders stepped up during de Blasio’s absence, including City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The blackout may have happened in Manhattan, but the rage over de Blasio’s no-show can be felt in every corner of the city. New Yorkers know that such a crisis could easily happen to them — and where would they be without the mayor’s leadership?

Some have said it’s time for de Blasio to step aside, but we don’t think that’s required.

Rather, it’s time for de Blasio to live up to the oath that he took to serve the people of New York City. And, yes, it’s time for him to drop out of the presidential race.

Being mayor of New York City, it has been said, is the second-toughest job in America — second only to the presidency itself. De Blasio may be term-limited in 2021, but there are no limits to the very real challenges this city faces.

Residents are dealing with myriad problems, including a higher cost of living, public transportation breakdowns, overcrowded schools, income inequality and more.

Undocumented residents around the city also feared the worst over recent reports that ICE would be conducting a major deportation sweep. While the raid never materialized in the predicted large scale, the mayor decided to skip town anyway and campaign in Iowa — sending a message that he cares more about his fantastical White House hopes than he does for some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.

Indeed, de Blasio’s blasé handling of the blackout weekend’s crises — not to mention past public policy blunders on everything from public education to public housing — indicate that he’s not ready for the White House at all. The Democratic field, crowded as it is, has far more competent and more qualified candidates for the presidency than our current mayor.

No one on the campaign trail will miss de Blasio except for the mayor himself. Clearly, he can’t both be New York City’s mayor and run for president. Something’s got to give. Bill, get real — throw in the towel and stop being an absentee mayor — unless that is the legacy you truly want to leave.

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