As New York City’s Comptroller, my number one priority will be using the office to lead our economic recovery from Covid. And as Comptroller, I will ensure that every penny is spent on serving the people who live in New York City and not wasted through bureaucratic failures or throwing money at ineffective ideas. Covid did not create the unequal and unacceptable conditions we face in New York City. Rather, the pandemic exacerbated and illuminated the waste and mismanagement that disproportionately impact marginalized communities and the local economy. As Comptroller I will view Covid recovery through that lens and focus on long term, holistic improvements to support everyone in New York City.
Traditionally, the Comptroller is the city’s watchdog. They provide oversight of city agencies, auditing their finances and performance, serve as the fiduciary of the city’s five pension funds, settle claims on behalf of the city, and review city contracts. The job requires the highest levels of integrity to ensure tax dollars are spent effectively and ensure we keep our promise to the city’s pensioners, retirees, and workforce. It requires a leader who won’t let policymakers off the hook when they fail to deliver, obfuscate what’s really happening in our city, or strike backroom political deals.
In addition to these critically important responsibilities, I will leverage the position of Comptroller to help lead the city’s economic recovery to get New Yorkers back on their feet, to address disparity and serve our most vulnerable by leveraging resources from the public and private sector, and ensure the city is never again caught unprepared when we need to mobilize.
We need to bring back hundreds of thousands of jobs, spur investment in businesses and the arts, implement effective COVID-19 testing and vaccination plans, close the growing achievement gap in education and catch our kids up on over a year’s loss of learning.
Our city’s economic recovery is of paramount importance. Over half a million people have lost their jobs, we’ve lost a third of our small businesses and nearly half of our restaurants are at risk of shutting their doors. Broadway remains dark. The cascading effects are wide-spread and devastating. From the loss of tax revenue needed to maintain essential services to struggling families to mental health, we need to get our economy going again.
As comptroller, I will leverage the resources and powers of the office to make this happen.
My experience leading through crises taught me that the only way to get to the other side is diagnosing the problems and implementing solutions. I will bring critical thinking and discipline to New York City Government to address the most urgent issues facing New Yorkers, including reviving the economy, job creation, public safety, criminal justice, learning loss and the achievement gap, homelessness, housing, unemployment, and mental health.
During a time of fiscal constraints, it will be even more important that the city does more with less and leverage partnerships with the public and private sectors. Performing financial and effectiveness audits of New York City agencies is among the most important and powerful roles of the Comptroller to make the city more equitable, safe, and whole.
For example, despite the Department of Homeless Service’s $3.2 billion budget, homelessness in New York City has ballooned to the highest levels since the Great Depression with approximately one every one hundred people living in shelters or on the streets. We have a moral obligation to right these wrongs and a financial incentive to make better investments in New York City. Strategies such as eviction prevention funds that help people stay in their homes are both more humane and more cost-effective.
To pinpoint failures and identify solutions, my office will immediately dig in to:
New York City must create a complete and actionable pandemic preparedness plan to ensure city services are uninterrupted, testing and vaccination programs are ready to be deployed, and medical supplies, food, and regulations are at the ready. Delays during the onset of the pandemic caused by infighting and confusion at City Hall caused more deaths. More than 21,000 New Yorkers died of Covid by May of last year. Estimates suggest fewer than 4,300 would have lost their lives had lockdown orders been put in place even one week earlier in March.
Throughout the pandemic, our political leaders have failed to protect us and fight the virus.
Focusing on preparedness is not limited to the pandemic. As Comptroller, I will make sure we are never caught unprepared by the perils of climate change, a terrorist attack, or public health crisis.