By CHARISSE HILL
Winning in a landslide, Bill de Blasio was elected Tuesday as the 109th mayor of New York City.
Republican candidate Joe Lhota conceded the election at 9:45 p.m., just 45 minutes after polls closed. Exit polls had projected de Blasio with 73 percent of the vote to 24 percent for Lhota — and with nearly all the votes counted by early Wednesday morning, de Blasio led by that same 49-point margin.
Lhota delivered his concession speech at the Gansevoort Park Hotel in Manhattan, saying that he has no regrets.
“Despite what you might’ve heard, we are one city and I do hope that our mayor elect understands that before it’s too late,” he said.
De Blasio delivered his victory speech at The Armory in Prospect Park, expressing his gratitude to his family and supporters.
“My fellow New Yorkers, today you spoke out loud and clear for the new direction of New York City,” he said. “I will never forget that as mayor, I work for you.”
De Blasio acknowledged that his work has just begun and with the help of a unified city, anything can be accomplished.
Exit polls conducted by Edison Research suggested that the sweep of de Blasio’s victory cut across the city’s traditional divides. He won support from voters regardless of age, race, education, religion and income, according to the exit poll.
In interviews conducted on election night, voters said that de Blasio overshadowed Lhota by giving a voice to New Yorkers yearning for change.
LaCheryl James, a resident of Crown Heights in Brooklyn, said her vote for de Blasio was a plea to end the “bullying of New Yorkers by Michael Bloomberg.”
“Bloomberg’s administration was more like a dictatorship,” she said. “Bill de Blasio is the man that will make positive changes to keep our city safe.”
Ken Estey, a political science professor at Brooklyn College, said the Democratic Party remarkably pulled together its various branches for a greater cause.
“It looks like the Democratic Party in the city was able to unite … and pull together for victory,” he said. “New York Democrats have prevailed for the first time since David Dinkins was elected over 20 years ago.”
De Blasio, the Democratic candidate, and Lhota, running on the Republican line, offered voters sharply contrasting images of the city and its needs. With his “tale of two cities” theme, de Blasio called for raising taxes on the rich, curtailing the Police Department’s stop-and-frisk program and changing the direction of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s education efforts.
Lhota, harking back to his leading role in the Giuliani administration in the 1990s, warned that de Blasio would lead the city back to the days when its crime rate soared and the economy fell. Former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, Jr., who ran on the Independence Party line and received little attention, fell somewhere between the two in his views.
De Blasio and Lhota met for their final debate on Wednesday, focusing on crime prevention, tax reform and efforts to strengthen the city’s economy post-Sandy.
Lhota touted his experience as a deputy mayor and as chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, saying he had the background to provide the kind of management needed during citywide crises. “The city of New York was not fully prepared for what happened a year ago,” he said, reminding viewers of his success in getting MTA operations running after the subway suffered severe damage in Hurricane Sandy. “They were prepared for the evacuation, not the aftermath. I actually believe that I have the experience to keep this city safe and secure and solvent.”
De Blasio, the city’s public advocate who has maintained a commanding lead in the polls, stressed the need to include neighborhood organizations in the effort to help those displaced by the storm.
While crime has hit a historic low in the city, police tactics have remained the subject of an intense debate between the candidates on the campaign trail. In his most recent TV ad, Lhota threatens the return of high crime if his opponent is elected.
The Republican candidate has defended the Police Department’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy, arguing that de Blasio’s support of legislation to condense the practice will only make matters worse for New Yorkers.
“A lot of ideas are pie in the sky, but not one that deals directly with public safety,” said Lhota during a recent news conference in Brooklyn.
De Blasio’s campaign has been fueled by his promise to “end the era of stop-and-frisk.” The Democrat said he will end the “overuse” of the policy and plans to expand surveillance camera use if elected. He also supports the installation of an inspector general over the Police Department, slated to go into effect in January and opposed by Lhota.
In a ruling on Thursday, the 2nd U.S Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily blocked the earlier ruling that was slated to curtail the police stop-and-frisk policy. The initial ruling by Judge Shira Scheindlin found the city’s current implementation of stop-and-frisk unconstitutional.
“We shouldn’t have to wait for reforms that both keep our communities safe and obey the Constitution. We have to end the overuse of stop and frisk and any delay only means continued and unnecessary rift between our police and the people they protect,” de Blasio said in a statement.
Lhota slammed de Blasio’s “naïve public safety approach” in their third and final debate. “This was a critical first step toward uncuffing the NYPD, but we cannot stop here,” said Lhota. ”The next mayor absolutely must continue this appeal. New Yorkers need to know when they go into the voting booth on Tuesday that a vote for me is a vote for a safe city.”
The court removed Judge Scheindlin from the case, with a finding that she “ran afoul” of the judicial code of conduct.
New York City’s next mayor will direct policy for approximately the city’s 1.1 million public school students. Mayor Michael Bloomberg implemented mayoral control of public schools, a change both candidates said they would continue.
Both candidates have been critical of Bloomberg’s reliance on testing and the banning of cell phones from schools.
Lhota supported the closing of failing schools and wanted to double the current number of charter schools throughout the city. “If you oppose charter schools and the programs and the choices that are available for minorities and inner-city children and children of immigrants, you cannot call yourself a progressive,” said Lhota.
De Blasio said he would not increase the number of charter schools. “I won’t favor charters the way the Bloomberg administration did, and I think that’s fair,” he said. In addition, he said he would consider charging rent to charter schools housed in traditional school buildings.
In a statement released by de Blasio’s campaign, President Barack Obama spoke highly of the Democratic candidate’s platform of “progressive change.” The two men made an impromptu visit to Junior’s Restaurant, Brooklyn’s famous bakery and diner, last Friday following Obama’s visit to a local high school.
In a recent interview with WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb, Lhota said he was confident he can pull an upset. “I’m optimistic. I will be spending every hour of every day up until Nov. 5 – including Nov. 5 – getting my message out for what my vision is for the city of New York and it is a stark difference from my opponent,” said Lhota.
Photo: Bill de Blasio.