Mayor Bill de Blasio and his ranked choice pizza toppings ballot
NYC Mayor’s Office
It's June, voting for the Democratic primary starts in just a few days, and a lot of people still don't understand how ranked choice voting works. Oh, I'm not talking about you, beloved Gothamist/WNYC readers—you've already practiced voting on fictional NYC mayors and favorite Big Apple books. But there are still many New Yorkers who don't quite get it. So Mayor Bill de Blasio tried to break it down today in the most relatable terms possible: By demonstrating rank choice voting on pizza toppings.
De Blasio has been loathe in recent weeks to reveal exactly who he is voting for in the upcoming primary, so he instead started a contest in which all New Yorkers can weigh in on their favorite pizza toppings—just go here to vote now, the winner will be announced next week—to try to illustrate how ranked choice voting works.
"Just speak from the heart, think from the heart – rank," de Blasio said on Thursday morning. "And I don't know what's going to win when we're starting this contest. I want all New Yorkers to weigh in, I think this could be an important moment to clarify what New Yorkers really want for the future of pizza in the city."
Credit where credit's due: Some people say that de Blasio has been leaning into this whole "senioritis" thing as of late, with pressers in which he feasted on Shake Shack fries and showed off Knicks and Nets gear, but this demonstration really worked for me. It was a fun, interactive way of clearly explaining ranked choice to the public, one in which de Blasio got to vamp in a, dare I say, charming way.
But of course, his specific topping choices were completely wacky. That started with passing over favorites such as pepperoni for…green peppers.
"Now, a lot of people don't appreciate green peppers enough," he said. "I have Southern Italian roots, roasted peppers are a very big, important part of our life—number-one in a big way for me, okay? I didn't even have to question what my number-one vote would be—green peppers."
He went on to rank olives second ("This one's a little controversial…some people think always belong on a pizza, some people are really against it, but I have had very good experiences with olives"); sausage third ("[But it] has to be good – really good. There's a place in Brooklyn, and also in the Village, Faicco’s – incredible sausage, I’d recommend that"); mushrooms fourth ("Congratulations, mushrooms – you're often maligned, you're misunderstood, but you still got on my ranking"); and pepperoni fifth.
He also took a few moments to lambast his least favorite choice, pineapple, which came up a few times throughout the presser.
"Let me tell you what never, ever, ever should be voted for," he said. "This is ridiculous, okay? Pineapple doesn't belong on pizza. We're not in California. Okay? It is like—this is sacrilegious in Italy to put pineapple on a pizza.
He also reflected on his "sacrilegious in New York City" act of eating a pizza with a fork and knife just 10 days into his first term as mayor. "I didn't feel it was controversial. I, you know, I felt like I was living my truth," de Blasio argued. "Okay. And there's some pizzas that should be eaten with a knife and fork and some that shouldn't. And I'm okay with that. So, if anyone wants to have that debate. I mean, that's right up there with the pineapple debate, obviously. But I'm ready for that. Bring it. That's my message."
Toward the end the press conference, one reporter tried to get de Blasio to weigh in on the actual mayoral race by asking which candidate is his pineapple.
"I appreciate the clever, thoughtful question," de Blasio said after clapping for the reporter. "You took the moment, you went with it, but, again, I'm going to watch very carefully all of the candidates, and I'm going to make my own decisions personally. Of course, I'm going to be voting. I'm going to be doing five candidates. And I'm going to think about if, how, when to share my thoughts with the people of New York City. But we're just not there yet, but we are there on pizza."
"Let me just say: pineapple, I respect you greatly, just get the hell away from pizza. Okay. Live your own life. Go independent. Do your own thing. Get away from my pizza," he said at the very end of the presser.
It should be noted that pizza toppings isn't the only way in which the city is trying to reach out to people to explain the intricacies of ranked choice. There's also Ranked Choice Dim Sum, which has popped up for some people as an ad on Instagram.