Thompson Takes on the Bronx
April 3rd, 2009

When mayoral candidate and current Comptroller William Thompson told a crowd of 100-plus in a dank Bronx American Legion last night that he was from Bedford-Stuyvesant, he was greeted by boos.

That didn’t last long, though.

To the rhythmic chant of “Billy, Billy,” the leading candidate for the Democratic ticket found a supportive crowd, thrusting blue “Bill Thompson: Democrat for Mayor” signs into the air, and a key endorsement from State Assemblyman Peter Rivera. The endorsement could signal off the start of a coalition of Hispanic and black voters that many political observers say is imperative to Thompson’s mayoral campaign.

What was a noticeably more energized comptroller, Thompson seemed to withdraw from the reserved city official many have come to know. He came with bigger gestures. He came with slang. He even came with an extra decibel or two — all of which the crowd took to.

Pointing at the crowd, Thompson said, “This race is going to be about people, not about power.”

He quickly went through his career in public service. He talked of his tenure as president of the Board of Education, his work in the comptroller’s office, his adeptness on the economy and his pursuit of a classroom-focused education department and sustainable public housing. He capitalized on his common man characteristics: His mother was a public school teacher and so is his daughter.

Striking a familiar note, both Thompson and his supporters in the audience equated this run for mayor with another black politician — whose name needs no mention — and another unforeseeable victory. “Yes we can,” was ruminating throughout the crowd.

That election, Thompson said, was a defining moment in his campaign. A day after Mayor Michael Bloomberg successfully shepherded through an extension of term limits completely changing the face of the city’s 2009 mayoral race, Thompson, like thousands of other New Yorkers, headed to the polls. He said he stood on line for more than an hour and a half.

It was then he made his decision, Thompson told the crowd.

“When I finished voting, I said, ‘You know something, I’m running to be the next mayor of the city of New York,'” he recalled.

You can bet he’ll bank on that momentum, sans billions.

By on April 3, 2009, 10:39 am
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