Brad Lander and Helen Rosenthal

A CARIBBEAN TIMES NEWS IN FOCUS:

It’s still two years away but the New York City Comptroller’s race is now “on your mark.” The political starting pistol has not yet been fired but at least two term-limited City Council members are starting their races very early. Reports reaching CARIBBEAN TIMES newsroom say that New York City Council Member Brad Lander, a Brooklyn Democrat, has declared his intention to run for city Comptroller in the 2021 election.  He joins fellow council member Helen Rosenthal, a Manhattan Democrat, as the only declared candidates in what is predicted to be a hotly contested race to replace Scott Stringer the present comptroller who is term limited.

In fact the 2021 municipal elections will see a seismic political  change in New York city government, with all three citywide positions on the ballot along with the five borough president posts and all 51 City Council seats, about three dozen of which will be “open seats” due to term limits. Among the citywide positions that will be up for grabs: both Mayor Bill de Blasio and Comptroller Scott Stringer will be closing out their second terms and unable to run for another term.

Lander and Rosenthal are among the City Council members who are serving their final terms, many of whom will be seeking higher office through the 2021 elections. The first political salvo has already been fired with several council members facing term limits now running in the special election for Public Advocate, which will be held February 26, 2019.

In this keenly contested race to fill the incomplete term of now New York State Attorney General Letiticia James, the winner of this race will have to run for the office again this September and, if victorious, will serve the remainder of now-Attorney General Letitia James’ term. That candidate could potentially serve two full terms in that office from 2022 till the end of 2029.

In the comptroller race match up a number of skills will be required. The New York City Comptroller is the city’s chief fiscal officer tasked with auditing city agencies and monitoring city finances, among other responsibilities. Lander and Rosenthal are among the most policy wonks in city government, with clear expertise and love of crafting policy, examining budgets, and evaluating contracts. Both represent especially politically-engaged areas of the city that are often home to high voter turnout in contrast to historically and pervasive low turn out areas. For Lander, it’s parts of brownstone Brooklyn and for Rosenthal, the Upper West Side in Manhattan.

Brad Lander is also a huge supporter of Participatory Budgeting and currently serves as the City Council’s deputy leader for policy. He has master’s degrees in social anthropology and city planning, and was elected as one of a younger crop of progressive candidates in 2009 after leading a neighborhood group focused on affordable housing and social services. He was co-chair of the Council’s progressive caucus, which he helped create, and previously chaired the Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges in the last Council session, 2014-2017.

His district, previously represented by Mayor Bill de Blasio, covers Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Gowanus, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Borough Park, and Kensington.

Rosenthal, who chaired her Upper West Side community board and worked in the Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget for seven years between 1988 and 1995 before running for the City Council in 2013, filed her paperwork for comptroller in 2018. This term she chairs the City Council’s Committee on Women, having previously headed up the contracts committee through which she conducted several probing oversight hearings, particularly with regard to contracting at the mammoth Department of Education and problems with how the city contracts with human services nonprofits.

Rosenthal has touted her work leading the Council’s contracts committee, particularly the role she played in breaking up an over-inflated contract awarded by the Department of Education in 2015 — after she raised the issue, it was reduced from $1.1 billion to $472 million.  She also said the next comptroller must be independent of the mayoral administration, a quality she said she showed in the school desegregation battle in her district when she stood with elected parent representatives pushing a rezoning plan to desegregate schools.

OTHER POTENTIAL

CANDIDATES:

• State Senator Kevin Parker

of Brooklyn

• Assemblymember Robert

Rodriguez of Manhattan.

The comptroller’s office, with more than 800 employees, is a big step up from the City Council or state Legislature, where members have roughly ten staffers working under them. As the city’s top fiscal officer, the comptroller’s duties include auditing the work of city agencies, overseeing management of the city’s $160 billion-plus pension system, analyzing city spending and revenues, and reviewing and approving city contracts.

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