Comptroller - General Election 2013

Gotham Votes Race Profile

   
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Endorsed Candidate - Scott Stringer - Dem
Age: 53 Occupation: Manhattan Borough President
Education: John Jay College of Criminal Justice (degree not reported)

Scott Stringer has 20 years of experience as an elected official and is currently the Manhattan Borough President. He is seeking election to the office of City Comptroller because he believes he has made a difference in his prior offices and wants to continue serving the City. Stringer believes an effective comptroller must have an independent voice and be a watchdog over the Mayor, yet at the same time work with stakeholders to form coalitions to put proposals into effect. Citing his experience as one who has stood up against special interests and his ability to work with others to get policies enacted, Stringer thinks he can effectively serve in this dual capacity. Stringer’s top reform issues are consolidating the five pension funds into one to reduce expenditures on fees and improve portfolio performance. He will continue to make the office more transparent by furthering Comptroller Liu’s work in creating Checkbook, an online portal for the city budget. He favors abolishing placement agents. Aside from government reform, Stringer prioritizes modernizing the structure and technology of the 18 bureaus within the office, and organizing around improving services in key issue areas such as immigration and sustainability. He wants to curtail excessive spending on contracts by participating in pre-bid conferences and establishing triggers within contracts to ensure goals are met. Stringer will also perform agency audits to identify where costs can be cut and savings can take place. Stringer will use shareholder resolutions and the leverage of the pension fund to improve corporate governance, for example tying executive pay to performance, but only if it results in better returns for the funds. Impressed with his work reforming the office of Borough President and utilizing its powers effectively, Citizens Union feels that Stringer has the skills and demeanor to work collaboratively and implement the thoughtful vision he has laid out for the office of City Comptroller.

 

    

  
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John L. Burnett (R, C, SC)

Age: 43 Occupation: Full-time candidate

Education: New York University (BS); Cornell University (MBA)


A former Wall Street executive, John Burnett is seeking election in order to ensure that there is more than one party on the ticket, as he believes competition is good for a healthy, accountable democracy. Burnett is a former manager at Merrill Lynch with twenty years of experience doing performance reviews of over 800 branches at Merrill. He stresses his independence and outsider credentials, noting he is “unbossed and unbought.” Burnett believes this separates him from his democratic opponent, and sees no disadvantages in his political inexperience, noting the similarities between forming coalitions in business and political settings in order to move things forward. Among Burnett’s priorities if elected is to reduce the millions of dollars in fees the city pays outside consultants in managing its five pension funds. Burnett supports consolidating the five pension funds into one and modifying state law to allow for greater diversity in investments. He is concerned that continuing with the status quo will result in the pension fund payments crowding out other spending in the city budget. He would leverage his audit experience from Merrill Lynch to make city agencies more effective and efficient, noting he would target the Department of Education and focus on improving economic development. Burnett also wants to increase the number of contracts going to minority and women owned businesses, pointing out that only 3.1 percent of contracts go to these groups in the city, which trails the state’s 9 percent. Citizens Union believes Burnett can draw from his business experience to address certain elements of the office, but lacks a broader, more comprehensive vision for the office that his major opponent possesses.

The following candidates were not scheduled for an interview by Citizens Union: 

Richard Bozulich (WV)
Hesham El-Meligy (Lt)
John W. Studer (SW)
Julia Willebrand (G)