City Councilman Dan Garodnick came right up to the line of declaring himself a candidate for City Comptroller at a news conference on the City Hall steps this morning, telling reporters that it is something he is “strongly considering.”
Mr. Garodnick took something of an odd tack in explaining his reasons for (almost) seeking the job as the city’s chief fiscal officer–mainly that a new, inexperienced mayor is coming into office in 2014, and so an experienced hand will be need in the comptroller’s office.
“The city has real challenges right now,” he said. “We have not only a budgetary challenge with a structural deficit. We have new mayor who is coming in, whoever it is, it will be somebody who is untested as an executive, dealing with a $67 billion budget. So it is a moment in which I think it is important to have independent, reform minded people assuming the roles to protect those taxpayer dollars.”
There is of course somebody who has even more experience than Mr. Garodnick at managing the comptroller’s office: current city comptroller John Liu, who has yet to indicate if he will seek another term or if he will run for mayor. There remains a decent chance however that Mr. Liu will be able to do neither, especially if he becomes enveloped in the growing scandal surrounding his campaign fundraising.
In his press conference however, Mr. Garodnick refused to discuss the incumbent.
Asked to evaluate Mr. Liu’s term in office, he again cited his experience.
“This is not something I am really going to get into today,” he said. “But I will say that when I consider my own background here—I am a second term councilman, a six year member of the budget negotiating team, somebody who before I came to the Council was a securities litigator, was trained to and did internal investigations of companies to be able figure out what challenges they were facing from regulators—and the moment in history we are in, I think it is important time for me to be taking a hard look at this.”
Asked if was willing to run if Mr. Liu decided to seek re-election, he cited his time in the Council.
“I am looking at this from my own perspective, looking at my own background and credentials as an independent minded reformer in the Council.”
Asked to comment on Mr. Liu’s string of scandals, he said, “It is not the right moment for me to speculate about the comptroller. I am looking at this as a possibility for me based on my own background, my own credentials, and the fact that I think the job is extremely important and will be coming increasingly important in January 2014 when we have a new mayor.”
It would certainly make for an interesting campaign if Mr. Garodnick ran against Mr. Liu. The incumbent’s fundraising scandal has made him toxic to large swaths of the electorate, but he remains popular among some key constituencies of a Democratic primary–minority and labor voters.
Councilman Domenic Recchia is also considering a bid for the office.