De Blasio Says No Contradiction in Keeping Bloomberg Development Commissioner

Kyle Kimball. (Photo: Twitter)
Kyle Kimball. (Photo: Twitter)

Amid a flurry of last-minute appointments before he’s sworn in at 12:01 tomorrow morning, Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio made at least one eyebrow-raising choice: Kyle Kimball, the current president of the city’s Economic Development Corporation and a veteran of Bloomberg-era governance, will keep his job.

Mr. de Blasio, who framed his liberal candidacy in opposition to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s economic vision, said today that one of the longtime members of one of Mr. Bloomberg’s most prized agencies–and a target of Mr. de Blasio’s criticism–was in fact in line with his progressive values. 

“I think I’ve tried to articulate repeatedly the theory under which we’re working here. I’m sure I’ll get this question more than once but I’ll keep repeating the answer,” Mr. de Blasio told Politicker this afternoon, responding somewhat testily to a question about whether retaining Mr. Kimball could be considered hypocritical.

“I’ve set forth an exceedingly clear, aggressive, progressive agenda. It’s there: black and white. It’s the exact same one I put forward in the primary and the general election–it ain’t changing,” he stated.

Mr. de Blasio, arguing he would only appoint people in line with his own values, earlier hailed Mr. Kimball–the second Goldman Sachs alum to join his team–as someone who would spearhead job growth in the emerging tech sector, the outer boroughs and spur far-reaching developments like the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx.

“I needed someone who understood how to get the work done, who had the values and an ability to put those values into action,” Mr. de Blasio said of Mr. Kimball. “He’s been doing it with great distinction.”

Mr. de Blasio praised Mr. Kimball, who took over for longtime EDC President Seth Pinksy in July, for his role in securing a deal to turn the Kingsbridge Armory into an ice arena and bringing a tech campus to Roosevelt Island.

Tweaking Mr. Bloomberg, Mr. de Blasio further said the corporation under his aegis would take a “different tact” that would “look at every single development deal as an opportunity to right some wrongs” and ask the private sector to “do a little more.”

Under Mr. Bloomberg, the EDC was transformed from a relatively low-key organization into one of the chief development arms of the city. Instrumental in many major projects like Willets Point in Queens and the rezoned stretch of Hudson Yards in Manhattan, the development corporation handed out controversial subsidies to developers in order to spur building. The Bloomberg administration also opposed a City Council bill to grant a “living wage” for many EDC projects–a progressive-backed proposal Mr. de Blasio favored. During his own remarks today, Mr. Kimball made sure to note he was on Mr. de Blasio’s side on this issue as well.

“We’ll be making sure we use all the tools we have in economic development to link all New Yorkers up to give them quality jobs,” he said. “We will look at every tool have to make sure we are introducing the right kind of economic development.”

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