Here’s your guide to an ongoing series of posts with all you need to know about the races that could help shape New York City for years to come.
- The primary — where many Democrats all but clinch their win in our blue city — is set for June 22, 2021.
- The deadline to register to vote is Friday, May 28 and early voting begins on Saturday, June 12. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is June 15.
- Why so soon this year? An early-voting bill signed into law by the governor in January 2019 also moved New York’s primary from September to June.
- The general election is set for Nov. 2, 2021.
Who’s Running for Mayor, and Why Should I Care?
The mayor is the city’s top executive and gets to set the agenda. For example: the mayor can choose to prioritize development of affordable housing or making sure every school has a nurse — and drafts the city budget that serves as a blueprint for how we pay for those things. That alone is a massive task; New York City’s budget serving 8.4 million residents is currently $92 billion, more than the gross domestic product of the Dominican Republic, Sri Lanka or Luxembourg. The mayor also chooses the heads of every city agency, like the Department of Social Services, Department of Education and the NYPD, and can approve or veto each piece of legislation passed by the City Council. The mayor took over control of city schools in 2002, though is dependent on the state Legislature to retain that role.
See the complete list of who's running for mayor here.
(Other) Big Seats to Fill
Finding a new mayor is not the only high-stakes choice voters will make in 2021. The other citywide offices up for grabs include comptroller — who manages and audits the city’s coffers, while playing a key oversight role on city contracts — and many of the borough president seats. Four of five borough president slots are open, and the fifth, filled recently by Donovan Richards in Queens, will go to the voters again in 2021.
What to Know About the 2021 City Comptroller’s Race in New York
What does a city comptroller do? And who is running for the seat this year?
The Office of the Comptroller does several things, but its chief responsibilities are to prepare audits and oversee how city agencies are spending their money, manage the city’s public pension funds — the largest in the world at $224.8 billion as of October, Stringer’s office says — and issue bonds to help pay for large projects. The comptroller also reviews city contracts. To do all this and more, the comptroller employs a staff of about 800. The comptroller has another important role: serving as second in line of succession to the mayor, after the Public Advocate.
Duties Of The Comptroller
Comptroller Scott M. Stringer is New York City’s Chief Financial Officer. An independently elected official, he safeguards the City’s fiscal health, roots out waste, fraud and abuse in local government, and ensures that municipal agencies serve the needs of all New Yorkers.
The Comptroller’s responsibilities include:
- Conducting performance and financial audits of all City agencies;
- Serving as a fiduciary to the City’s five public pension funds totaling approximately $239.8 billion in assets, as of November 2020;
- Providing comprehensive oversight of the City’s budget and fiscal condition;
- Reviewing City contracts for integrity, accountability and fiscal compliance;
- Resolving claims both on behalf of and against the City;
- Ensuring transparency and accountability in setting prevailing wage and vigorously enforcing prevailing wage and living wage laws; and
- Promoting policies that enhance City government’s commitment to efficiency, integrity and performance for all New Yorkers.
The Comptroller leads a staff of about 800 employees—including accountants, attorneys, economists, engineers, IT professionals, budget, financial and investment analysts, claim specialists and researchers, and administrative support staff. His office works collaboratively to boost communities across New York City, through its many critical functions:
Auditing for Performance and Efficiency
As the City’s Chief Auditor, the Comptroller is required to audit every City agency at least once every four years. The Comptroller’s audits examine the operations of all City agencies and evaluate initiatives to preserve and develop affordable housing, deliver quality public education, ensure access to public benefits, provide preventative homeless services and protect the rights of individuals and communities.
Ensuring Integrity and Preventing Abuses in City Contracting
The Comptroller’s Office reviews all City contracts and is committed to upholding the highest standards of accountability, transparency and strict fiscal compliance. Each contract is closely examined to make sure the City has enough money to pay its bills and that corruption has not tainted the award process or the vendor.
Responsible Asset Management to Protect Retirement Security
The Comptroller is the investment advisor to and custodian of assets of the City’s five public pension funds, which provide retirement security for more than 700,000 current and former City employees. He is also a trustee to four of the five City Pension Funds. The City’s pension assets are invested to generate strong and consistent returns, while managing risk and volatility in their investment portfolios. The Comptroller’s Office also reviews the City’s payment of fees to outside investment managers to ensure the pension funds’ long-term sustainability. In order to improve the long-term financial performance of public corporations in which the City’s Pension Funds invest, the Comptroller’s Office also addresses corporate governance policies and practices.
Resolution of Claims against the City and Managing Risks
The Comptroller may settle claims against or on behalf of the City before a lawsuit is filed in court, and he has final settlement authority at any stage of litigation, where there is a monetary component to the settlement terms. In connection with this authority and his role as the City’s chief fiscal watchdog, his office closely analyzes claims data to identify areas of recurring problems and propose reforms to City government policies and practices that create liability.
Promoting Fiscal Health and a Sound City Budget
As the City’s Chief Financial Officer, the Comptroller scrutinizes the Mayor’s budget, examining the soundness of its fiscal and economic assumptions and advising on potential developments affecting the City’s fiscal outlook. The Comptroller’s Office also sets a uniform system of accounting and reporting for all City agencies, based on generally accepted accounting principles, and prepares the City’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (Annual Report).
Managing Issuance of City Bonds
Along with the Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget, the Comptroller issues and sells all bonds to support the City’s capital needs. The Comptroller’s Office therefore rigorously monitors the City’s credit rating and debt levels, and identifies sound refinancing methods to reduce costs to taxpayers.
Determining Prevailing Wage and Enforcing Labor Rights
The Comptroller is mandated under State law to set and enforce prevailing wage and benefit rates for workers, laborers and mechanics employed on New York City public works projects and building service employees on City contracts and certain properties that receive tax exemptions. The Comptroller’s Office engages in extensive outreach and educational work to inform the community of prevailing wage and living wage requirements.
Who’s running for Comptroller?
These are the 10 candidates, all Democrats, currently running for comptroller according to CFB records:
Brian Benjamin Benjamin, a Harlem native, is the current State Senator representing Harlem, East Harlem and the Upper West Side. The former investment banker and affordable housing developer pledged to return some donations in early January after THE CITY found donors named in campaign records who said they’d never given money to his campaign.
Michelle Caruso-Cabrera Caruso-Cabrera is a former longtime financial journalist for CNBC. She ran against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a congressional Democratic primary bid last year, although she has formerly registered as a Republican.
Zachary Iscol - Iscol is a former Marine who has worked on veteran mental health issues through his nonprofit Headstrong, according to this profile from City & State, and co-founded the armed services-focused media site Task & Purpose. Until late January, he had been a candidate for mayor.
Brad Lander - Lander currently serves as the City Council member representing Carroll Gardens, Park Slope and Kensington. Previous to government work, he directed a community planning center at Pratt Institute.
Terri Liftin - Liftin is an attorney and legal compliance expert who has worked for private investment firms and an asset management company.
Chris McNickle - McNickle is a Manhattan native and current Bronx resident who has worked in finance and banking for much of his professional life, served on Riverdale’s community board and is a historian and author.
Alex K. Pan - Pan is a college student at Denison University according to his campaign’s Instagram page where he says he is a “son of immigrants” and “lifelong New Yorker.”
Reshma Patel - Patel is the president of the Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club of Manhattan, board member for Chhaya CDC — an advocacy group for South Asian New Yorkers — and has worked in “public finance, e-commerce and data analytics,” according to her profile with the organization.
Kevin Parker - Parker, a Brooklyn native, is the current State Senator representing Flatbush and surrounding neighborhoods from Ditmas Park to Park Slope. Before taking elected office, Parker worked for local officials, including the then-state Comptroller H. Carl McCall and then-Flatbush Council member Una Clarke. the state’s Banking Board.
David Weprin -Weprin, a native of Queens, currently serves as the State Assembly member representing northeast Queens. He previously represented the area in the City Council, worked in the financial services industry and, in the 1980s, served on the state’s Banking Board.
Source: THE CITY: https://www.thecity.nyc/22233447/what-you-need-to-know-now-about-the-2021-elections-in-new-york-city