The New York City comptroller serves as the fiscal watchdog, which is serious business in a city with a budget of nearly $99 billion. The office oversees the city’s roughly $240 billion in pension funds, approving its contracts and investigating its agencies.
As New York recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic, it will need a steady and experienced hand focused on ensuring that its residents and businesses recover from the trauma caused by the disease. The health and vitality of the city’s economy isn’t just a local matter; New York is a major economic engine that the entire nation needs firing on all cylinders for recovery to succeed. This is a job for Brad Lander, a veteran councilman from Brooklyn who is among the hardest-working and most effective public servants in the city.
Plenty of legislators in the 51-member City Council simply show up. Mr. Lander’s work has often changed New York for the better. Early in his career, he was one of two council members behind the Community Safety Act, among the first significant efforts to curb stop-and-frisk policing under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. In the following decade, Mr. Lander sponsored legislation that expanded paid sick leave, strengthened protections for tenants and increased rapid bus service for New Yorkers. He also took on common-sense measures, like getting air-conditioners into city schools, that made life easier.
Mr. Lander has repeatedly risked his political career to take unpopular stances. Perhaps most significant was his skillful, dogged support of a plan in recent years that successfully integrated Brooklyn elementary and middle schools in his district.
The editorial board does not agree with all of Mr. Lander’s stated positions, such as his call to defund the New York Police Department. (The comptroller does not set the police budget.) While several of the other candidates in the race are attractive, Mr. Lander stands above them as best suited to this particular job. Corey Johnson, the City Council speaker, jumped into the race at the last moment after deciding not to run for mayor. Brian Benjamin, a state senator from Harlem and the Upper West Side, and Zach Iscol, an entrepreneur and U.S. Marine, would be new to city government at a moment when experience counts. David Weprin, a state assemblyman, has some of that experience but lacks Mr. Lander’s intensity. Then there is Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, a former Republican and CNBC anchor who moved to Queens in 2019 to wage an unsuccessful bid against Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
This is no time to elect a political novice or someone who might have preferred a different office. There is a temptation to use the position of comptroller to enact larger agendas that more properly belong with the mayor. We were won over by Mr. Lander’s prudence and competence, and we hope that he keeps his attention focused on the job at hand.
Early voting in the Democratic primary lasts from June 12 to June 20, and Primary Day is June 22. The winner of that contest for comptroller will likely win the general election.
Mr. Lander hopes to use the office’s long reach to make climate-friendly investments that create well-paying jobs. He also promises to audit the city’s public schools more aggressively and ensure that federal aid from the pandemic is invested wisely for future generations.
Mr. Lander has our endorsement.