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Originally Published: August 27, 2013

Daniel Squadron and Scott Stringer win group’s support for public advocate and Comptroller

Good Government Group touts choices as votes for “competence, character, and capability”

Citizens Union today announces its preferences in the Democratic Primary Elections, choosing to support Bill Thompson for Mayor, Daniel Squadron for Public Advocate and Scott Stringer for Comptroller, as well as Joe Lhota in the Republican Primary for Mayor.

“2013 is a critical year for New York City. After 20 years, two mayors, and a terrorist attack on September 11th, New York has been challenged and transformed. Yet its future is full of other remaining challenges as New York faces a monumental change in city government,” said Dick Dadey, Executive Director of Citizens Union. “We need leaders who can bring the city together and show the competence, character and capability to continue New York City’s progress and ensure that no New Yorker is left behind in the future.”

In the Democratic Primary for Mayor, Citizens Union evaluated a diverse array of experienced, qualified individuals, all of whom Citizens Union has supported for election to past offices. In the end, Citizens Union prefers former Comptroller Bill Thompson.

Thompson and Speaker Christine Quinn stood out to Citizens Union and apart from the other candidates for the way in which they expressed their visions for our city’s future, choosing to speak in unifying terms that do not divide New Yorkers into camps. They did so while also acknowledging that work still needs to be done as we create a better city that is more inclusive of and responsive to all New Yorkers.

Citizens Union believes Thompson is well prepared to be Mayor of the City of New York given his diverse know-how and breadth of experience. He has managed large entities and brings both public and private sector executive experience. While he should have done more to prevent the CityTime scandal as Comptroller, he restored integrity to an office that had been plagued by the corrupt practices of his predecessor. His understanding of and relationships in education are critical to making improvements to our educational system, an important objective with school spending comprising nearly a third of the city’s budget. He will bring a pragmatic and focused approach to governing, which holds appeal to Citizens Union and had the clearest and most practical set of ideas on what he would focus on during the first days of his administration and how we would accomplish them.

Thompson possesses the right temperament to build consensus with the business community, advocates, labor, and other stakeholders to forge common ground in addressing issues, much like he did when he led the effort to centralize the city’s education system back when we was President of the Board of Education. Citizens Union believes Thompson is trustworthy, consistent, and reliable. He possesses the character, competence, and capability to lead the city as its next Mayor, which is why Citizens Union prefers him in the Democratic primary over other well-qualified candidates.

Citizens Union also found Speaker Christine Quinn an appealing choice given her overall record of accomplishment as City Council Speaker working collaboratively with the mayor to get things done and acting in the best interests of the city.   During her tenure as Speaker, the City Council gained a more meaningful role in governance of the city. As speaker, she brought about improvements to our campaign finance laws, made lobbying activity more transparent, provided oversight of election administration,  improved transparency of Council proceedings and enhanced access to city data. Quinn is a worthy and well-qualified candidate for mayor, but her role in extending term limits by overturning the will of the voters and stalling action for too long on important issues before the council that commanded strong support contributed to our decision to prefer her opponent.   

The Public Advocate, Bill de Blasio, impressed Citizens Union as well. Citizens Union respects de Blasio’s candidacy and believes that he is arguably the most eloquent of the candidates in conveying a vision of what he will tackle as mayor. There is no doubt that de Blasio as mayor would be dedicated to a transparent administration engaging all stakeholders and residents in the solutions he seeks. His focus on income inequality is admirable but it could be presented in a manner that is more inclusive and unifying for the city.

Citizens Union believes Comptroller John Liu possesses management experience for the mayoralty, having run the 700-person comptroller’s office along with work as an actuary. He can point to significant accomplishments in modernizing the comptroller’s office and making it and city spending more transparent. Citizens Union respects the good work Liu has done as comptroller and his admirable zeal to include the underrepresented, but believes his solutions to the very real issues facing New York do not speak inclusively to all the important stakeholders whose support will be needed to enact the changes he proposes.

In the Republican Primary for Mayor, Citizens Union prefers Joe Lhota. Citizens Union believes Lhota’s executive experience running the MTA and as Deputy Mayor of Operations will enable him to hit the ground running if elected. He has good track record of running operations and Citizens Union believes he is well suited to move agencies to administer his agenda should he be elected, an important skill in governing a city as large as New York, which is why we prefer him. His performance in leading the MTA’s response to Hurricane Sandy provides reassurance that Lhota could respond effectively if another calamity was to strike New York, as well as manage other important aspects of the city. His main opponent, John Catsimatidis, is passionate and his business success admirable, but he lacks in-depth knowledge about the issues and how he would run city government.

In the Democratic Primary for Public Advocate, Citizens Union prefers Daniel Squadron. Squadron has a strong record on reform issues, along with a proactive yet pragmatic vision for the office of the Public Advocate, including a detailed plan on how to ensure that the public has access to government data and information. Of the other candidates, Citizens Union believes that Letitia James brings considerable passion to the issues she champions, and has detailed knowledge of the powers of the Public Advocate, but felt that she was unrealistic about her ability to work on as many issues as she wishes given the limitations of the office. Reshma Saujani has many unique and appealing ideas for the office and for city government, but lacks enough direct experience in government compared to other candidates that would be necessary to accomplish her ambitious list of goals. Citizens Union likes Cathy Guerriero’s energy and commitment to serve the public, but feels she lacks policy knowledge to advance reform issues and her inexperience in government raises questions about her ability to effectively and productively work with city agencies and other elected officials as the second highest ranking elected official in the city.

In the Democratic Primary for Comptroller, Citizens Union prefers Scott Stringer. Impressed with his work reforming the office of Borough President, Citizens Union feels Stringer has the skills and demeanor to implement the thoughtful vision and specific plans he has laid out for the office. Citizens Union believes that his opponent, former governor Elliott Spitzer, brings a commanding intellect and an interesting perspective to the office. Yet Stringer has shown himself very capable of bringing his own – and even more detailed vision – for reimagining the office and has a better track record of working collaboratively with other stakeholders to bring about change, without the checkered past Spitzer brings to public life.

Citizens Union evaluates candidates’ support for government reform and ability to implement such an agenda, as well as their ability to wage an effective and competitive campaign and their ability to grasp state, local, or community issues specific to the race’s jurisdiction, as well as propose thoughtful solutions to effectively serve their constituents’ interests. Incumbents are held accountable for their record of reform and promises made in office. Candidates are evaluated without regard to political party and in a nonpartisan manner.

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