An Eye Toward Albany, de Blasio Chooses a Fighter — and a Friend

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With an eye toward Albany and the battle to pay for universal pre-k, de Blasio tapped a legislative fighter and a Cuomo ally in his latest round of appointments.

The fighter is Sherif Soliman, who will head up the city's state legislative affairs office, "I do have my hard hat ready to go and my fatigues for my most recent deployment up to our state Capitol," Soliman said.

Soliman, who is currently the spokesman for the New York City Employees' Retirement System, said his top priority, not surprisingly, will be de Blasio's plan to tax the wealthiest New Yorkers to pay for universal pre-k, plus after-school programs for middle school students. That plan requires state legislative approval and runs up against Gov. Andrew Cuomo's ongoing efforts to cut taxes statewide.

Cuomo has said he supports the policy, though not necessarily de Blasio's tax plan.

De Blasio also picked a Cuomo friend — Peter Ragone — as his senior advisor. They worked together under then-Secretary Cuomo at the Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Clinton adminstration.

At a news conference, Ragone made a point to say thank you to Cuomo and his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, "for showing me the nobility of public service."

Others named at Monday's announcement include Bill Chong as Commissioner of Youth and Community Development, Marco Carrion to head Community Affairs, Mindy Tarlow as head of the Office of Operations, and Max Sevillia as head of Federal Legislative efforts.