Comptroller - Democratic Primary

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Preferred 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 be an independent voice that is able to 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 stands up against special interests and his ability to work with others to get policy passed, 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 good 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 like 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, Citizens Union feels that Stringer has the skills and demeanor to implement the thoughtful vision and specific plans he has laid out for the office, which is why he has earned our preference.

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Eliot Spitzer - Dem
Age: 54 Occupation: Spitzer Engineering
Education: Princeton University (degree not reported), Harvard Law School (degree not reported)

As a former Attorney General and Governor of the State of New York, Eliot Spitzer is seeking election to the office of Comptroller because he believes he has the necessary skill set and experience for the job. Spitzer believes his independent voice and knowledge of capital markets gained from his experience prosecuting Wall Street as attorney general positions him to be an effective comptroller. Spitzer believes he can use the leverage of the city’s pension funds as a major shareholder to achieve reforms in corporate governance, for example, separating the position of board chairperson and chief executive officer, arguing that ownership is more powerful than regulation. Spitzer envisions the office being a thought leader on urban policy by auditing agencies to determine if money is being spent to maximize service delivery and agency performance. He points to the seminal report the Attorney General’s Office issued in 1999 on stop, question and frisk as the type of policy products the office would produce. Spitzer will also audit the MTA and assess the use of bike lanes. Spitzer supports Mayor Bloomberg’s and Comptroller Liu’s plan to consolidate the five pension funds into one to reduce the $400 million the city spends on fees. In response to Citizens Union’s queries regarding restoring public trust in his leadership following his resignation as Governor, Spitzer believes the voters will assess the totality of his record and make their decision. Citizens Union believes that Spitzer brings a commanding intellect and an interesting perspective to the office. Yet we believe his opponent has shown himself very capable of bringing his own, even more detailed vision for reimagining the office and has a better track record of working collaboratively with other stakeholders to bring about change without the checkered past Spitzer brings to public life.