For twelve years, our city has been dominated by the perspective and policies of Michael Bloomberg. His legacy is decidedly mixed. Though he has proven effective on issues from curbing smoking to surface transportation, the city has become a much more difficult place to be working or middle-class. This is clear in Lower Manhattan, where skyrocketing rents and massive, ill-conceived development projects are pushing us out and threatening what we love about our neighborhoods. It is urgent that the next mayor take another direction.
John Liu is the best candidate to build a post- Bloomberg city for all New Yorkers.
Liu has consistently been the most progressive and community-oriented candidate in the field. On stop and frisk, the corporatization of our schools, improving mass transit and affordable housing, Liu has been a voice for a more livable New York. He is the only candidate who has consistently opposed massive projects like Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, the West Side Stadium and others. After 12 years of mega-development besieging our neighborhoods, we need a mayor who views communities and development holistically. Liu was a champion of raising the minimum wage and a fairer tax structure long before it became the fashion. More recently, he has proposed sensible and long-overdue reforms to our insane marijuana laws.
John Liu has also been a leader on environmental issues. He categorically opposes hydrofracking, and the building of pipelines to bring that gas into our neighborhoods. Liu has also supported retrofitting city buildings – including NYCHA – for solar power. This would not only reduce costs and our carbon footprint, but would be a vital emergency power source for the next storm. That’s why he’s been endorsed by the Sierra Club.
While all the major Democratic candidates for mayor are clearly qualified, John Liu has the most impressive public record of accomplishment. Liu has been the best Comptroller the city has seen in recent memory. His audits and investigations have saved the city nearly $4 billion taxpayer dollars – mostly on hastily bid outsourcing contracts like CityTime. With every single municipal labor contract expired, budgets will be tight over the next four years. A skeptical, watchful eye like Liu’s can make a big difference.
More locally, Liu has been an advocate for Lower Manhattan neighborhoods. His recent audit of the Howard Hughes Corporation at South Street Seaport exposed that deal for what it was. He’s been with us on issues from NYU to St. Vincent’s to Petrosino Square. Liu would also be the first Asian-American mayor of a major American city. The Chinese community is rightly proud of John Liu, just as my grandmother was of Herbert Lehman. As home to America’s greatest Chinatown, Lower Manhattanites should celebrate this opportunity to make history.
There are, of course, concerns. Recently, Liu’s treasurer and a fundraiser were convicted on campaign-finance violations. While the charges only amount to a pittance in terms of the millions spent on campaigns, they are serious. However, this too has an upside. Liu is now the most investigated candidate for mayor in our history. After 3 years of wiretaps and a massive federal investigation, not one charge has been leveled against Mr. Liu, and no evidence links him to any malfeasance.
There is also the matter of polls. While voting for the “lesser-of-two-evils” is often the only course of action, we are not forced to make that choice. New York’s runoff primary system ensures that we’ll have another bite at that apple. On September 10th, we can vote for the candidate who best represents our values. If Mr. Liu does not make it past the first round, we can make another choice in the runoff on October 1st.
This year’s mayoral race has often been a circus. But it is a serious matter. With neighborhoods becoming unlivable and working and middle-class New Yorkers struggling to stay here, we need a competent mayor with genuine pragmatic, progressive principles. John Liu is that candidate.