Four city councilmembers are running for the Democratic nomination for comptroller: Melinda Katz, John Liu and David Weprin of Queens and David Yassky of Brooklyn Heights.
All four have been effective councilmembers, offering creative legislative solutions to New York City’s problems.
But the position of comptroller is one that requires a different set of skills, most notably, a willingness to analyze a situation with fresh, independent eyes.
For this reason, we endorse David Yassky for his party’s nomination for comptroller.
Make no mistake — all four candidates are qualified for the job. Weprin, as head of the finance committee of the Council, certainly understands where some of the city’s budgetary bodies are buried. And Liu is an aggressive, likable legislator with talent and magnetism to spare. Had he not recently been caught in a minor fib last month about his supposed child labor in a sweatshop, you could have added impeccable honesty to that list of qualifications.
Katz is also talented — but her greatest talent has been in raising big bucks from the real-estate industry. That neutralizes any claim of independence.
We’ve backed Yassky in his other races, including a failed campaign for Congress two years ago, citing his creative ideas such as hybrid cabs or allowing New Yorkers to bring their bikes up to their offices. He also pushed to mandate below-market-rate units in the Bloomberg administration’s otherwise all-luxury rezoning of the Williamsburg waterfront in 2005 — a rezoning that remains a model today.
Earlier in the campaign, he unveiled a Web site — www.itsyou
Like his opponents, Yassky promises to root out waste and inefficiency. But Yassky also promises to restore to prominence one of the comptroller’s most under-used tools: the right to review and nullify city contracts if they do not create enough local jobs or are doled out improperly.
Perhaps Yassky’s greatest qualification for the office is the very thing that has failed him as a legislator: while he’s gifted at the art of compromise, give and take and getting a bill done, he’s inept at the glad-handing and retail campaigning that make some politicians, like Borough President Markowitz, for example, so popular.
He’s also shown some inability to take a real stand at true gut-check moments, like his bizarre flip-flop on term limits last year.
Being comptroller — the dry, bean counter of the city — will free Yassky from the mundane pursuit of popularity or his desire to seek the politically expedient nuance, and allow him to focus his intellect and considerable skills on the job. Go to his Web site — www.davidyassky.com — and you won’t find mere platitudes about the change he seeks, but page after page of well-thought-out position papers with astounding details and knowledge.
The comptroller job is all about digging through the paperwork and hammering away outside the limelight. This is where David Yassky excels. He’s earned the Democratic nomination.