The stated purpose of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s first visit to Riverdale since taking his current office was to encourage parents to enroll their children for universal preschool.
But his repeated praise for state Sen. Co-Majority Leader Jeff Klein, who faces a potential primary challenge from former Councilman G. Oliver Koppell, seemed just shy of being a campaign endorsement.
“I want to single out and thank Senator Klein for the leadership role he played in Albany,” Mr. de Blasio told community members and journalists on Monday at the Riverdale Neighborhood House, a multi-purpose social services agency which has offered pre-kindergarten programs for years. “If it weren’t for Senator Klein’s leadership, it would never have been possible to get the state Senate to fully support our vision for full-day pre-k and afterschool” programs.
After weeks of intense debate earlier this year, Mr. Klein helped shoehorn $300 million for universal preschool in New York City into this year’s state budget. His support appeared crucial in earmarking the funds after Mr. de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo — Democrats, like Mr. Klein — publicly fought over how to fund the initiative.
While Mr. Koppell was yet to announce his intentions one way or another as of press time, getting Mr. de Blasio on board before a campaign is actually underway would be in keeping with Mr. Klein’s proactive style.
Other measures to lock in support from Riverdalians arguably include the anti-Montefiore Medical Center legislation that also went in the budget passed at the end of March. That measure gives the state Department of Health the power to approve, deny or suggest changes to proposals like Montefiore’s controversial plans to build a large ambulatory facility in south Riverdale.