The comptroller debate between John Liu and David Yassky was more confrontational than in the past, with the main issues being who tells the truth and who flip-flopped on term limits.
Each said he was “sad” that his opponent wasn’t talking about the issues.
Speaking to reporters after the debate, Yassky said his decision to support term limits after initially signaling otherwise was “very different from making factual claims that are simply untrue. I think that does raise issues of honesty and integrity.”
Liu dismissed Yassky’s charge, saying he’s being accused of dishonesty “five days before the election,” making the charges last-minute stunts rather than substantive criticisms. “Obviously they’re a tactic. I’m going to stay on the issues, issues that matter to voters.”
The main policy issue separating the two is whether or not to create a new pension tier for future municipal employees that would help drive down the city’s pension costs. Yassky says he’s open to the idea, and says Liu—who is being backed by labor and the Working Families Party—would give union leaders the authority to reject the plan, which in essence would kill any chance at creating it.
After the debate, Liu said that two major unions, the CSEA and the UFT, both reached deals with the governor and mayor, respectively, proving that union consent on such deals doesn’t necessarily mean they oppose reforms.
Liu has tried emphasizing his record in the private sector, and contrasting it with that of Yassky, whom he portrays as an incorrigible office-seeker. Liu said that in addition to the City Council and city comptroller, Yassky was interested at various times in running for Brooklyn district attorney, Brooklyn borough president and “there was an office he ran for in Washington, D.C.” (That Washington, D.C., office, I’m told, was for a seat on a local school board.)
Liu was thought to be running for public advocate before Mark Green jumped into that race.
My favorite part of the debate, other than seeing NY1 staff trying to accommodate the unusually large entourage Liu brought with him (Ferrer, McCall, Arzt, Seto, Lee!), was watching Yassky field a not-unexpected, Epoch Times-y question about Liu.
In a scrum with reporters after the debate, an Asian television reporter asked, “From the Chinese community we have overheard, having some information of John Liu, his connections with the Chinese Community Party—”
“Not something I know anything about,” said Yassky, shaking his head and walking away.