- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, D, said cities should take advantage of the power they have at their disposal, as it is often more than city leaders may realize.
- In a keynote address at the Smart Cities New York 2018 conference, de Blasio said when it comes to fighting climate change and the opioid crisis, as well as preserving net neutrality, the onus is on cities to lead whenever the federal government fails to provide leadership.
- "I always say to my dear friends in cities all over this country and all over the world: look at your own power, understand it fully, utilize it fully," de Blasio said.
This speech, which helped kick off the two-day conference at Pier 36 on New York City’s Hudson River, is in keeping with de Blasio’s recent emphasis on activism at the local level and coming out against many actions of President Trump and his administration.
In his remarks, de Blasio said cities are "taking matters into our own hands," but that can only manifest thanks to the support from residents at the grassroots, who he said see policies being enacted at the national level and want their other elected leaders to resist. "I think if you look at history, it is less the history of the great names and the moments that are considered significant, it is more about the history of people and the decisions they made," de Blasio said.
And in the coming months, de Blasio said he plans to go even further in his activism. Already, the first-term mayor has led coalitions of city mayors who have pledged to uphold the terms of the Paris climate accord, has fought against the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision to repeal net neutrality and has led litigation against fossil fuel companies to demand compensation for their actions damaging the environment. But he said cities can do even more and must take strength from their residents.
"I ask you also to reflect on some of the power you may not yet have fully tapped into: the power of the grassroots, that power of local to change the dialogue and achieve things we thought weren't impossible, but guess what, in this day and age, they are," de Blasio said.