Needed: A Progressive Agenda

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The Mayoral election of November 2013 presents New Yorkers with a critical turning point and an important opportunity. For the first time since 2001 – and only the second time since 1977 – it is an open seat, with no incumbent running for reelection. As a result, it opens the political space for defining the future of governance in New York City wider than at any time in the previous decade. The next mayor's policies and initiatives will reflect the diversity of constituencies that help him or her to win office. At this critical juncture, it’s important that progressives begin a conversation about their vision for New York City’s future. Proposals for progressive big-city governance cannot rely on past models. Instead, we seek to elaborate and communicate a new, creative, and flexible model of city government that matches the era in which we live. An emerging progressive coalition will not just be about housing or crime or education or taxes, but about the kind of a city in which we wish to live.

After decades of City government policies that have focused primarily on restoring law and order, ending welfare as we knew it, promoting growth, and reforming the public school system – all reasonable and necessary goals that we must continue to pursue – we believe the next mayoral administration must also make take creative steps to make New York City government more equitable, inclusive, and responsive. In short, we need a progressive government, not just good government. At the local level, people need government services, especially in the face of stagnating real incomes, persistently high levels of inequality, and the life challenges facing those of lesser means. It is a real challenge to provide high-quality basic city services while simultaneously promoting equality and inclusion. We reject the notion, however, that these goals are incompatible. We can make city government muscular while including our citizens more deeply in the project of governing.