Thank you. I love all of you...Thank you very much. But mostly, thank you New Yorkers for reelecting me to a job I love so much. I am humbled by the level of support you've given me, not only in this election, but over the last four years, the last eight years. And I give you my personal commitment that we will be even more successful together in the next four years, than we have been in the last four.
I asked Fran Reiter if we could please have our victory celebration in the same place that we gathered four years ago, at the Hilton. I did that because I remembered what the city was like four years ago. It was a city that was defined by fear and doubt. It used to be called the city that was unmanageable and ungovernable. It was a time when people didn't believe in their city. Many of them didn't believe in themselves. And they would not permit themselves to dream. So we said together during that campaign and in this room, that we were going to change that. Many doubted that we could change it. Cynics made fun of us. But look where we are today.
Together, we molded a vision and in pursuance of that vision, we all came together, all of us. We worked hard, very hard, to improve the quality of life for our great city. We made the world realize that change is possible. So today, New York is a better place to live than it was four years ago. Today, our quality of life is improved and we're much more united as one city, one standard. And most New Yorkers believe, as I do, that our best days are yet to come.
Four years later we can stand here tonight and we can say, 'We did it!' 'We turned this city around!' Boy, did we turn this city around. Just yesterday, yet another national magazine, after so many, found what we always knew to be true, New York City is the most improved city, New York City is the greatest city in North America! Together, the people in this room and the people in this city worked hard over the last four years to reestablish our city as America's premier city, America's first city, as the Capital of the World. That happened because we found the strength to come together, to generate fundamental change, to redefine ourselves as a city, to reform ourselves.
And what did we care about? We cared about improving our quality of life. We cared about reducing crime. We cared about making our streets safer again. We cared about establishing higher standards. We cared about reforming education and replacing a culture of nonperformance with a culture of performance. We cared about nurturing and loving our children. We cared about reducing the cost of government. We cared about building private sector jobs, we cared about encouraging businesses and we cared about lowering taxes. The list that we cared about and still care about is all but endless. What matters most is that we cared about each other -- about New York, about a great city and a wonderful city.
But vision alone was not what inspired us and moved us. It also demanded perseverance and performance and accountability. But not for one moment do I think that we're finished! In fact, there is much more work that lies ahead than anything that we've accomplished so far.
On January 1st, of 1998, what we're all celebrating tonight is that the electorate will return this administration to office. However, much more important than that, January 1st, 1998, is the 100th anniversary of Staten Island and Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, and Manhattan being one city! Our 100th anniversary. That's a time for to us consider our future.
We have much, much unfinished business. And we have some very new important business that we have to undertake. We must continue to keep our priority on crime. We must continue to reduce crime. This year when it ends, if god is good, will be the safest year -- even safer than last year -- in 30 years in New York City.
Day in, day out, month after month, we have to continue to improve our quality of life. We must continue to restore jobs. We have restored 173,500. We have hundreds of thousands more jobs that we have to restore. And I'm not going to rest until we restore every single one of them that we lost in the early 1990's. We must work and continue to work with schools Chancellor Rudy Crew, who is doing a great job, to continue the transformation that he started. To build more schools, to improve reading and math, to restore arts education to all of our classrooms, to all of our children. So that we can bring beauty into the life of our children as well as all of the academic subjects that they need to learn to compete and succeed in the next century.
Today as I speak to you, we have 330,000 fewer people on welfare than two and a half years ago. And just like New York City has gone from being considered the crime capital of America to being considered the capital for improving the quality of life in America, New York City is now moving from being considered the welfare capital of America to being considered the welfare reform capital, a capital for opportunity and a capital for independence.
But we have lying ahead new business that's going to challenge us even more. That's going to ask more of us, demand more of us, require us to work harder, require us to have more courage and dedication and require us to put aside the fears and the doubt of the cynics. We have to dedicate ourselves to reducing drugs in our neighborhoods and in our schools the way we have reduced crime. We'll do it with much stronger law enforcement. We'll do it with accountable drug treatment programs, which we'll expand, and we'll do it through education and more education and even more education. But the way we're going to do it is by committing ourselves to it. You have my personal commitment that I will not rest until we drive drugs out of this city. No more heroin, no more cocaine, no more marijuana. Let's move as close as we can to the platonic ideal of a city, of a city of neighborhoods and children that are drug-free, rather than dependent on drugs.
And the most important part of our new business is to have the spirit of pride in New York City and the spirit of success and opportunity that has reached so many New Yorkers -- to make certain that it reaches all New Yorkers. I pledge to you that although over time and experience we have learned better methods and better ways to guide people from poverty to opportunity, I am dedicated to fulfilling New York's historic and most important role as America's most caring, most compassionate, and most generous city. A city in which we care about people, love them enough to help them for as long as they need help -- but never ever without moving them from dependency to independence, to fulfilling their identity as free individuals and human beings. We want for all New Yorkers -- realizing that we can't achieve it for all -- but if we aim in that direction, we'll achieve it for most, freedom from welfare, freedom from dependence on government, freedom from dependence on others. We want them to be able to take control of their own lives and then be able to take control of the lives of their children and their families and help their neighbors. That's the direction we're moving in now. And that's the direction that we will move toward even more aggressively.
And always, always, always, New York will be open to people. New York will not be afraid of people because the color of their skin may be different. We will not be afraid of people because they speak different languages. We will not be afraid of people because they worship god differently. We will be the city of your parents, my grandparents, our great grandparents. A city that opens its arms to people unafraid of difference, understanding that in the process of immigration, this city has become not just the greatest city in America, but the best-known city and the greatest city in the world.
I am so proud that New York City stood up to the anti-immigrant fear and bashing that went on throughout the country. I am so proud -- even more proud than I am of our reductions in crime and the restoration of a quality of life -- I am even more proud than I am of the way in which we've restored jobs and reformed welfare. Do you know what I'm proudest of? I'm proud that a year ago, when the federal government wanted to throw 70,000 legal immigrants off S.S.I. Benefits, no one stood up but New York! And we won! And we led America, we led America to a fuller, to a wiser, to a historically more accurate understanding of the value of new people. For all the talk of redefinition and reformation, for all the talk about redefining government, do you know how New York City is redefined and reformed? Not by processes, not by abstractions, but by people, people from all over the world coming here to build a better life for themselves and their families. The next four years will be dedicated to reaching all New Yorkers.
Tomorrow, a poll is going to be released. It's not a poll about elections. That's over now. There will be a poll released that says the following. Let me just read it to you for a moment. Sixty five percent of the people who live in New York now believe that we are more together and more united than we were four years ago. Eighty three percent believe that the city is better off than four years ago. And seventy nine percent think that New York City's best years are yet to come. But when I read that poll, I don't just think about the sixty five percent and the seventy nine percent and the eighty three percent. I think of the people that have been left out and the people that have been left behind. The people that don't feel that things are getting better, the people that have not had success and opportunity reach their lives. And I give you my personal commitment that we will dedicate this second administration, that the electorate was kind enough and gracious enough to give to us, to reach out to all New Yorkers. Let's try to reach all of them. Let's try to have the spirit of success, the spirit of opportunity, that fills this room enlighten this entire city. No New Yorkers should be left out. No New Yorker should be left behind!
We've made so much change. Perchance, someone might ask, who's responsible for all that we've accomplished and all that we hope to accomplish? The answer is each and every one of you, every man, every woman, every child, every New Yorker who participated, every immigrant ancestor, every New Yorker whether you were there at the start or have yet to join us. The doors to New York City are open to all people seeking renewal and redefinition. To all new people who come here to find a better life, and in so doing, renew us. I've spent the last 48 hours -- actually 50 or 60, I don't remember now -- going into every borough, every neighborhood. The purpose was to go into a new administration with a renewed spirit, with a new sense, a heightened sense of one city, one standard. To make certain that every person in this city knew, whether you voted for me or against me, whether you voted or didn't vote, that I'm your mayor, this is your administration, we have to do a better job of serving all of you. We have to reach out to all of you. And if we haven't, I apologize, I'm sorry, and it is my personal commitment that we will try endlessly and tirelessly to bring all of you into the kind of success and optimism we have in this room. Tonight, if you haven't felt the spirit of this room, I think maybe you feel it now.
Tonight isn't just an election celebration. It has a deeper significance. Deeper than one mayor, deeper than one group of two or three thousand people. It's a celebration of New York, a celebration of yesterday's promise becoming today's reality. A celebration of the turnaround of the greatest city in the world. And it's the reemergence of cities across our land because what's happening here in New York is happening elsewhere in other cities. People had written off urban America. No more! It's the cities that now are going through the resurgence.
Thank you, thank you so much, all of you in this room, all New Yorkers for giving me the opportunity to be your mayor again. For this evening, and for this victory, the people that I have to thank are endless. Let me first congratulate Vito Fossella on being elected to Congress and representing our city in Congress. And, I want to commend Ruth Messinger. She called me earlier before she made her speech. And she conceded her election and pledged to work to help the city in the future. Ruth Messinger and I [applause] -- we should applaud Ruth Messinger. She and I may disagree on philosophy, but we're united in our dedication and love of the City of New York. She's had a long career in government. And I respect that. And I respect her for having the courage to run for mayor of New York City.
Many people have contributed to this victory and I would be remiss if I didn't name some of them. First of all, to my wife Donna, who has supported me and helped me and loved me. To my son, Andrew, New York's number one Yankee fan. And to my daughter Caroline, who is New York's number one opera fan, or soon-to-be. Caroline may now be asleep, she said she was going to try to stay up. Thank you for your love and for your support, and, thank you to my mother, Helen, who taught me all of the things that I now need to be mayor of New York City, and to my father Harold. My mother gave me the academic and educational background that I needed to be mayor and my father gave me the courage to be mayor... [ACKNOWLEDGMENTS]
I really enjoyed the 48-hour tour, it was absolutely great. Tomorrow we will go to each one of the boroughs to thank people for their support. Because, I believe that one of the things that we have restored to this city, and now we have to build on it is, we're not a separated city. We're not separated by race, religion or ethnic background. We're not separated by borough. There is something that brings us together that is stronger, more powerful than all those differences. We are one, as proud New Yorkers. Thank you very much.