By Edith Honan
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Liberal Democrat Bill de Blasio cruised to victory on Tuesday in the race to succeed New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, marking the first time a Democrat has captured City Hall in two decades, local media reported.
De Blasio, the city's public advocate, beat Republican rival Joe Lhota after a campaign in which he addressed economic inequality in America's most populous city, CNN, New York 1 and the New York Times reported.
"This election is a very stark contrast between two very different candidates. Mr. Lhota clearly wants to maintain the status quo in the city. I'm calling for fundamental change," de Blasio said after voting in Brooklyn on Tuesday morning.
De Blasio won a hotly contested Democratic primary in September by focusing on the controversial "stop-and-frisk" police tactic endorsed by Bloomberg and by criticizing the billionaire mayor for presiding over "two New Yorks" - one rich, one poor.
De Blasio also promoted expanding access to pre-kindergarten, proposing a tax on the city's highest earners to pay for it, and said he would fight community hospital closures.
Lhota, who was a deputy mayor under Rudolph Giuliani and later headed the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, insisted that de Blasio would lead New York back to its dark days of high crime and poor fiscal management.
Democrats have been locked out of City Hall for two decades despite holding a 6-to-1 registration advantage over Republicans.
(Reporting by Edith Honan; Editing by Dina Kyriakidou and Peter Cooney)
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