**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**
Contact: Matthew Wing
Before I begin, I want to thank the people who inspire me most and who are my partners in all I do-- my wife Chirlane McCray and my children Chiara and Dante. Their support, guidance and love are the reasons I am here today.
I also want to thank Congressman Jerry Nadler. His relentless efforts for social change and his impassioned defense of constitutional rights have always been powerful examples of leadership.
It is my honor to share this stage with my colleagues in government, Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Comptroller John Liu. I congratulate them both and look forward to working with them.
And we all owe one more thank you to our outgoing Public Advocate, Betsy Gotbaum, for her years of service. She dedicated herself to the most vulnerable among us -- the homeless, the hungry and children with special needs -- and I pledge to continue that mission.
In the summer of 1990, just months after being released from 27 years of political imprisonment, Nelson Mandela came to speak to the people of New York City.
He told New Yorkers, “You the people, never abandoned us.” His words reminded us that we believed in his fight for justice and democracy as if it were our own. And the values and activism of New Yorkers helped to overcome injustice in South Africa, and so many other parts of our nation and the world.
As we look to the future, we need to have the same faith in ourselves that people around the globe have had in us. We must never abandon each other. We know that this city – once so divided, once deemed “ungovernable” – is more resilient than it has ever been. In the last decade, we recovered from the most devastating attack of our time and withstood the greatest economic crisis in generations.
In each instance, the commitment of the people, the palpable sense of collective ownership, has proven we no longer have to make a false choice between a government that serves the people efficiently, or a government that intently listens to them. We can and must have both.
My office will be a place where the voice of the people speaks loudly. A place that helps organize communities to play a more meaningful role in our city government. A place that unlocks the mystery of government and refuses to stand by when a New Yorker could have been helped, but wasn't. And, in the instances where government fails, my office will be the place that demands accountability and change.
The issues that will define our future are clear:
Over ten percent of New Yorkers are out of work and over twenty percent are living in poverty. We are already becoming a city where the middle class, let alone the poor, cannot afford to live. And that means we have to reform our approach to development. From this point on, every piece of land we develop has to achieve more for the people of this city. I pledge to work with the City Planning Commission to give our citizens a greater voice in the decisions that shape their neighborhoods. Together, we can create a new approach that delivers more affordable housing and provides jobs in each community where development occurs.
Our future will also be framed by our public schools. There is no question that we have come a long way in the past eight years and I commend the Mayor for his dedication to improving our education system. But I am convinced we can do better if we involve the parents of this city more fully. If we want to engage all parents, including those who should play a greater role in their children's lives, we must welcome their voices in the schools that define their children's possibilities.
And, our future will be based on the quintessentially New York ideals of tolerance and compassion – and we cannot live up to those ideals if we do not recommit ourselves to protecting our most vulnerable.
Tonight, almost 16,000 children will go to sleep in a homeless shelter – more than ever before in our City’s history. For the last eight years, I have worked to prevent New Yorkers from becoming homeless and to help families in shelter get permanent housing. Continuing that work will be one of my highest priorities.
Finally, our future will be determined by the quality of our democracy. The next phase of New York City’s growth and its greatness will be meeting the rising tide of public engagement and ending the disconnect between the people and City Hall. The wisdom, creativity and involvement of the people will help move us forward.
As your Public Advocate, it will be my honor and my obligation to ensure our government listens to and responds to our people each and every day.
Thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to serve. And God bless the people of New York City.