Bill de Blasio (Warren Wilhelm Jr.) was born in Manhattan, New York to Maria (née De Blasio) and Warren Wilhelm. He was baptized Catholic, but is non-practicing. He does speak Italian though!
De Blasio was raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His mother graduated from Smith College and his father, from Yale. He has two older brothers, Steven and Donald.
He had previously shared publicly that his father was an alcoholic who, in 1979, had committed suicide while suffering from incurable lung cancer. His parents had separated in his youth, and he was raised by his mother's family, the de Blasios.
In 1983, he legally changed his name to Warren de Blasio-Wilhelm. In April 2012 he said: "I started by putting the name into my diploma, and then I hyphenated it legally when I finished NYU, and then, more and more, I realized that was the right identity."
By the time he appeared on the public stage in 1990, he was using “Bill de Blasio.” He explained that in his personal life, people called him "Bill" or "Billy." But, he did not legally change over to this new name until 2002, when the discrepancy was noted during an election.
De Blasio received a B.A. from New York University, majoring in metropolitan studies. The program included courses like “Politics of Minority Groups” and “The Working Class Experience.” De Blasio was also awarded a Master of International Affairs, from Columbia.
His started his first job in 1984 as part of the Urban Fellows Program for the NY City Department of Juvenile Justice. In 1987, he was hired to work as a political organizer by the Quixote Center in Maryland.
A year later, he traveled with the Quixote Center to Nicaragua for 10 days to help distribute food and medicine during the Nicaraguan Revolution. He was an ardent supporter of the ruling Sandinista government, which was at that time opposed by the Reagan administration.
Upon his return from Nicaragua, he moved to New York City, where he started working for a non-profit focused on improving health care in Central America. He also continued support for the Sandinistas in his spare time, joining a group called the Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York.
His introduction to City politics came during David Dinkins' 1989 mayoral campaign, for which he was a volunteer coordinator. Following the campaign, he served as an aide in City Hall. In 1997, he was appointed to serve as the Regional Director for the US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (‘HUD’) New York and New Jersey, under the Clinton administration. As the highest ranking HUD official in the tri-state region, he led a small executive staff and took part in outreach to residents of substandard housing.
In 2000, he was appointed as campaign manager for Hillary Rodham Clinton's successful Senate bid.
The Washington Post reported:
“In his inaugural address, Mr. de Blasio, an unabashed ‘progressive’ who ran on a pledge to end the Big Apple’s glaring income inequality, did not trim his vows to raise income taxes on high-earners, expand preschool, require mandatory sick leave and require developers to build affordable housing. His goal, he said, is ‘that New Yorkers see our city not as the exclusive domain of the 1 percent but a place where everyday people can afford to live, work and raise a family.’”
THE NEW YORKER added:
“The roadblocks have been removed from Chambers Street, and the new occupants of Michael Bloomberg’s second-floor “bull pen,” whence he ran the city for twelve years, are faced with the same dilemma that confronts all progressive politicians these days: Rising inequality is easy to analyze and bemoan, but what do you do about it?”
NYDailyNews.com offers 25 facts about New York City’s new Mayor, Bill de Blasio.