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March 16, 2021 1:59 pm
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Here’s How New York City Can Come Back Stronger After COVID-19

avatar by David Weprin

Opinion

A health care professional walks past an ambulance, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, Nov. 13, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Carlo Allegri.

Catastrophe. Tailspin. Nightmare.

All of these words have been used to describe New York City’s current fiscal situation, one year into the pandemic. While hope is on the horizon — more and more New Yorkers are getting vaccinated every day, restaurants are now at 35% capacity, apartment sales are up — it will take years for the city to fully recover from the damage of the last 12 months.

Now, more than ever, New York City needs strong leaders who will safeguard its fiscal health, root out waste, and ensure municipal agencies serve the needs of all New Yorkers. That’s why I’m running to be the city’s comptroller.

Many people are unaware of what the comptroller does, and judging by some of my opponents, some just see it as a consolation prize for not making it in the mayor’s race. I have no higher aspirations than this job, because I feel the role of comptroller is one I am uniquely suited to based on my background and the work I have done up until this point serving New Yorkers.

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If elected, I vow to be a champion for all New Yorkers, fighting to get this city’s finances back on track. New York has proven time and time again — in the 1970s, after 9/11, and after the 2008 economic crisis — that it will always come back stronger than before, and we can do it again.

But it’s going to take hard work. My life in public service has prepared me for this moment. I have served as Deputy Superintendent of Banks and Secretary of the Banking Board for New York State, watching over nearly $2 trillion and regulating more than 3,000 financial institutions and financial service firms in the state. I’ve worked in the private sector, helping local governments raise the capital necessary for critical projects such as infrastructure, health care, and education.

I’ve fought for the middle class, serving as the Chair of the City Council’s Finance Committee. I’ve helped balance 8 consecutive city budgets. I was in the trenches during the last financial crisis, locking away $2.5 billion to make sure future retirees would receive quality health care, and working with the mayor to get money back into the wallets of middle-class homeowners.

Those are the same New Yorkers I’ve helped during more than a decade in the State Assembly, authoring and co-sponsoring legislation that has helped seniors, children, low-income families, veterans, and small businesses.

First responders and city workers were on the front lines during COVID-19, working to keep this city safe. They shouldn’t be rewarded by having the city’s budget balanced at their expense. Small businesses, particularly restaurants, have taken an extraordinary hit. I have and will work to save them from financial disaster by pushing for indoor dining to return (safely), and I will make certain all businesses that are the lifeblood of this city are offered as much protection as the office of the comptroller can give them.

The comptroller is also the city’s chief auditor, and as such, is required to audit every city agency at least once every four years. I will expand that function and audit on a regular basis, safeguarding our hard-earned tax dollars through this fiscal crisis and saving millions through efficiencies.

When it comes to the Jewish and religious communities, I have been a strong supporter of religious freedom, and fought against religious discrimination. I sponsored a bill that makes it illegal for both the public and private sectors to discriminate against people who wear religious clothing, and I have been vocal in supporting our yeshivas and community.

It’s going to take a lot to get New York City back on track. But by electing someone who will stand up for them, New Yorkers can ensure their best interests will be taken care of as the city takes the necessary steps to recover.

Assembly Member David Weprin represents part of Queens in the state Assembly. He is a candidate for New York City Comptroller and a member of the Committee on Ways and Means, former Chairman of the NYC Council’s Finance Committee, and served as the Deputy Superintendent of Banks and Secretary of the Banking Board for New York State.

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