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Election 2013 profiles: Mayor, Comptroller and Public Advocate

COMPILED BY DENISE ROMANO AND HELEN KLEIN

 

Mayor

Adolfo Carrion – Independent

Former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion is running as the Independence Party candidate for mayor.

“I think we need a mayor who will focus all of his energy on where the majority of New Yorkers live out their lives, in the neighborhoods of the city outside the central business district,” Carrion said.

He said that during Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s tenure, “he has done a good job,” but did not focus on concerns of everyday New Yorkers.

If elected, Carrion said that he will focus on making sure that the education system is “not reformed, transformed” so that our “kids are fully prepared to participate in a modern global economy.” This means that schools should have better programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Carrion said his second priority was to “address the affordability challenge” especially when it comes to housing.

“We are losing the middle class rapidly because they are having to make the choice of leaving the city to afford a home or apartment,” he explained. “We are having kids coming back home. My daughter graduated [college] two years ago and had to find two to three other roommates to cram into a relatively small apartment so she can live in the city.”

Carrion’s third priority if elected is “making sure that we do not add one more tax on New York businesses and New York families.” He said that small businesses have complained of “predatory enforcement.”

In addition, he said that the city must remain safe.

“I have to tell you, I worry about going back to a city that I grew up in,” Carrion said. “When I was a teen in the ‘70s and in my early 20s in the ‘80s, the city has almost more than 2,000 murders per year. Last year we had 414.”

“Anyone who says they will eliminate stop and frisk is irresponsible,” he went on. “But it’s more than that. We need to respect the neighborhood beat cop and restore their relationship with young people and local residents.”

Carrion said that he would hire new cops and put them in precincts. “We have to pack them in cars. Drive-by policing instead of community policing,” he said.

Transportation is also important to Carrion.

“It’s hard to commute, whether you are in Bay Ridge or City Island. It’s hard to get to midtown,” he said, adding that he would try to “universalize mass transit system with all options connected to the MetroCard.”

Bill de Blasio – Democrat

Why did Bill de Blasio decide to run for mayor? “As a former City Hall staffer, school board member, city councilmember, and now as public advocate, I’ve spent my life working to ensure that New Yorkers across all five boroughs get a fair shot,” he said.  “I am a proud public school parent and having lived in Brooklyn for the last 20 years, I have a firsthand knowledge of the challenges facing New York City families and outer-borough residents.

“There is a crisis of inequality gripping our city,” he continued. “Currently, 46 percent of city residents are living at or near the poverty line, while 400,000 millionaires also call New York home. I am running so that we can end this Tale of Two Cities and build one New York, where everyone rises together.

“As mayor, my number one priority will be addressing our city’s crisis of inequality, which manifests itself in myriad ways including income levels, housing prices, hospital closures and the overuse and abuse of stop and frisk,” de Blasio went on.

“Circumstances have only worsened for New Yorkers struggling to stay in their homes, with sky-high rent and inadequate affordable housing,” he contended. “I have a plan to build 100,000 new affordable housing units and preserve an additional 90,000 over the next eight years by legalizing basement apartments, promoting outer-borough constructions, and ending giveaways for big developers.

“The crisis of inequality is also affecting our city’s safety,” de Blasio said. “The overuse and abuse of stop-and-frisk has been disproportionately applied to outer-borough young black and Latino men, driving a wedge between police-community relations. I am the only candidate who supports the reforms necessary to keep our street safe while mending policy and community relations. As mayor, I will name a new police commissioner, appoint an independent inspector general to oversee NYPD policies, and enforce a strong legislative ban on racial-profiling.

“New Yorkers have a choice in front of us,” de Blasio concluded. “We can’t afford another four years like the last 12, where the politics of inequality have affected everything from housing prices to healthcare. It is time to end this Tale of Two Cities.”

Joe Lhota – Republican

Joe Lhota, whose last position was chair of the Metropolitan Transit Authority, said that he is running for mayor because he wants to see the city continue to progress.

“I have the vision to move the city forward, the principles, as well as the experience at executive levels in city government,” Lhota said, adding that he served as the finance commissioner, budget director and deputy mayor for operations during the Giuliani administration.

Lhota added that his experience working in the private sector will help “move the city in the right direction.

“I will focus on making sure our economy expands, by creating really good paying jobs in good industries,” he said, adding that Mayor Bloomberg already “planted seeds” with new college campuses popping up all over the city, including NYU and Polytech’s applied sciences campus in Downtown Brooklyn and Cornell University’s new campus on Roosevelt Island.

“I want to reform the public school system,” Lhota added. “It’s better, but we have a long way to go, making sure our children are properly educated to survive in the 21st century.”

Lhota said he would also continue enhancing the city’s quality of life, by keeping “the city affordable and have the crime rate drop and not allow it to go up.”

Comptroller

John Burnett – Republican

John Burnett is the Republican-Conservative candidate for comptroller.

Born in Brooklyn and brought up in Queens, he now lives in Harlem, and considers himself “a government outsider, looking to come in and hold the government accountable.”

Burnett comes out of the private sector. Without having completed college, he got “his start,” he recalled, at Dean Witter, “with no formal training, but I took the opportunity and worked my way up. I rose to be divisional compliance manager at Smith Barney then I went back and earned my four-year degree while working full time.” Burnett subsequently moved over to Merrill Lynch, where he continued to progress, “So I have a full financial background,” that he said would be useful in doing the job that the comptroller, the city’s chief financial officer, is charged with doing.

As comptroller, Burnett said, he would “reduce fraud and waste so I can enhance public services needed by New Yorkers.”

The current health care benefit system that the city utilizes is “not sustainable,” because so many employees “don’t pay for health care,” Burnett contended, adding, “We have to negotiate a new structure.”

In addition, he said, the pension funds have to be put in a new direction because they are significantly underfunded. “We have to avoid becoming the next Detroit,” Burnett said, stressing that his goal is to “manage pension funds to achieve an annual return of seven percent.”

Smart management can help reduce costs, Burnett said, noting that he would consolidate the city’s five different pension funds “to reduce redundant administrative costs.” He also said he would “restructure the contracts we have with investment fund managers” to save additional money. “We should be able to save at least 15 to 25 percent of the annual fees we pay to Wall Street,” Burnett asserted.

Burnett assailed the idea of raising money through issuing violations. “I want to make sure we have business not being harassed by city agencies,” he said. “The way to grow the economy is to make sure we’re not taxing them to the point we are almost driving them out of business and taxing residents to the point we are driving them out of the city. We can’t tax our way to prosperity or spend our way to being wealthy. We need to make sure we are creating a sustainable economy that provides opportunities.”

Scott Stringer – Democrat

Born and raised in Washington Heights, Scott Stringer, currently Manhattan borough president, graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. In 1992, he was elected to the New York State Assembly, representing Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

In 2006, he became Manhattan borough president, from which position he has raised concerns about issues ranging from government waste and mismanagement to creating economic opportunity for New York’s middle class.

Stringer has also worked hard for equal rights and opportunities for all New Yorkers. He was one of the first co-sponsors of a 1995 bill to provide marriage equality, he passed landmark legislation protecting victims of domestic violence and helped establish a Manhattan Family Justice Center.  Stringer’s Bank On program helped more than 12,000 “unbanked” people in Manhattan sign up for bank accounts and participate in the city’s economy.

According to Stringer, in order for our economy to grow, the city must have a five-borough transportation plan to connect residents to developing jobs and housing centers. He has promoted the integrity and professionalism of the pension fund and has worked to create more comprehensive risk assessment and management and further diversify pension investments to ensure the fund’s long term sustainability.

Letitia James

Public Advocate

Councilmember Letitia “Tish” James, who represents the 35th Council District in Brooklyn, was born and raised in Brooklyn. After graduating from Howard University, James began her career in public service as a public defender with the Legal Aid Society. She later served as an assistant attorney general for New York State and was elected to the City Council in 2003.

As public advocate, James wants to expand the office by creating a Citywide Advocates Network, Crisis Intervention Center, Parental Education and Empowerment Program, Cyber Awareness and Protection Unit, Immigrant Support Unit and a Public Advocate at “Your Doorstep Initiative.”

James will stand up for poor people and working families who are being squeezed out of the city. She will fight for women’s rights and immigrants’ rights. She will take on power interests on behalf of everyday New Yorkers.

She will keep fighting to reform stop and frisk, and end racial profiling. James has done all of these things throughout her public service career and will continue to do so. She will continue to be the fighter for all New Yorkers as New York City public advocate.

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