No mayor of New York has been elected to a higher office since the 1800s… and those who cannot do, teach.
Former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio took these two truths to heart after fruitlessly vying for the presidency, the governor’s mansion and a seat in Congress.
De Blasio announced that he will begin teaching at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and the and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Institute of Public Health.
De Blasio, a Democrat, occupied the mayor’s office during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. During that time, he faced criticism for displaying mask hypocrisy, enforcing the rules selectively and focusing too much energy on a feud with former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Nonetheless, de Blasio will trek to the public health school to teach an eight-week class on leadership.
De Blasio has decided to teach after failing to snag another elected office. In January, he publicly decided against running for governor, as donor money was pouring toward the much more popular New York Gov. Kathy Hochul.
The former mayor spoke about a run for U.S. Congress. Reporters for The New York Times spotted him campaigning outside schools. However, he dropped out after low polling and a messy battle over redistricting.
De Blasio hinted at his next move last month after ending his congressional campaign.
“It’s clear the people of [New York’s 10th district] are looking for another option, and I respect that,” the former mayor said in a tweet announcing the suspension of his congressional campaign. “Time for me to leave electoral politics and focus on other ways to serve.”
De Blasio worked as mayor for eight full years, from 2014 through 2021. He declined to run for re-election last year, allowing Eric Adams to pick up the torch.
As mayor, de Blasio became known for free school lunches and universal prekindergarten. He left office with sinking approval ratings after mismanaging the pandemic.
Predictably, de Blasio blamed his unpopularity on P.R.
“I mistook policy for popularity,” de Blasio told the Times in an interview. “But in truth, to be an even better leader, you do need to think about the optics and the tone differently than I often did.”
The former mayor is “VERY optimistic” about his new job, and he has thanked Harvard for hosting him.
“I am VERY optimistic about the generation of leaders and activists coming up. It will be a privilege to offer lessons I’ve learned through decades of public service,” de Blasio wrote on Twitter. “My key message to them: we CAN make bold progressive change. I know because I’ve lived it.”
De Blasio grew up in Massachusetts, and he often clashed with New Yorkers due to his support for the Red Sox. He intends to commute to Boston-area school from his home in Brooklyn, New York.
At Harvard, he will join other political has-beens like former Wyoming Gov. Matthew Mead. In addition, Sweden’s former Prime Minister Stefan Lofven will join as a fellow.
“Mayor de Blasio’s decades of experience in local government, federal agencies, national campaigns, and running the largest city in the country will provide invaluable insight to our students and the Harvard community,” Setti D. Warren, the institution’s interim director, said, according to TownHall.com.
“He was mayor of New York City, and within that comes the incredible complexities of policy across the board, whether it’s health, housing or education,” Warren continued, according to the Times.
Warren once served as mayor of Newton, Massachusetts. Speaking to the Times, Warren described himself as a friend of de Blasio’s.
The Horn editorial team