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De Blasio sitting pretty with New Yorkers, except on hansom cabs: poll

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks to the media after a meeting with Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan in the Manhattan borough of New York,
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks to the media after a meeting with Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan in the Manhattan borough of New York,

By Edith Honan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New Yorkers are overwhelmingly optimistic about new mayor Bill de Blasio though most disagree with his plan to ban horse-drawn carriages in Central Park, a poll shows.

"New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is having a honeymoon," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University poll released on Thursday.

Two thirds of New York City voters expect good things from de Blasio, who took over on January 1 after the exit of three-term mayor Michael Bloomberg, and just over half approve of the job de Blasio has done so far.

But de Blasio's plan to do away with horse-and-buggy rides - a beloved and time-honored tourist tradition that has also drawn the ire of animal welfare groups - does not sit well with a majority of New Yorkers. While de Blasio has described the ban as a priority, six in 10 New York voters are against it.

De Blasio has long argued that hansom cab rides are inhumane, while some see it as bowing to the city's animal rights lobby, which launched a ferocious challenge to a mayoral candidate who opposed the ban.

Nevertheless, it is expected to be included in a City Council bill this month, with supporters saying they are confident it will pass, while representatives of the carriage industry are expecting the issue to end up in court.

Nearly seven in 10 New Yorkers back one of de Blasio's signature proposals: increasing income tax on the city's top earners to pay for pre-kindergarten and after-school programs.

The power to raise taxes lies with state lawmakers and Governor Andrew Cuomo, who favors tax cuts, and the proposal faces an uphill battle in Albany.

Opinions are divided over the role of de Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray, whom he describes as his most important adviser. McCray was a frequent presence on the campaign trail and the couple's bi-racial children were featured in TV ads.

About a quarter of voters say the city's first lady should have a major role in shaping policy, while 36 percent believe she should play only a minor role and 30 percent say she should have no role.

The survey of 1,288 New York City voters was conducted from January 9 to January 15, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.

(Reporting By Edith Honan; editing by Gunna Dickson)

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