Mayoral candidates are rather quiet on the budget they want to inherit

Campaign Confidential is a weekly newsletter that goes out on Wednesdays.
Campaign Confidential is a weekly newsletter that goes out on Wednesdays.
Alex Law/City & State
Campaign Confidential is a bi-weekly newsletter that goes out on Wednesdays and Fridays.

Mayoral candidates are rather quiet on the budget they want to inherit

And more coverage of key 2021 races.
April 30, 2021

The only time mayoral candidates ask for less money 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio rolled out a $98.6 billion “recovery budget” on Monday – the largest budget in the city’s history – but he’ll only get to spend half of it. Because six months into the next fiscal year, a new mayor will be taking office. So it seemed odd that the mayor’s executive budget was met with near silence from the eight leading Democrats who are hoping to inherit the city – and the $3.9 billion budget gap that de Blasio’s bean counters predict for the next mayor’s first full fiscal year. Shaun Donovan, who once managed the $4 trillion federal budget, was the only candidate who even put out a statement, criticizing de Blasio for failing to make progress on key issues like police reform and “passing the buck to his eventual successor and ultimately, the NYC taxpayer.” (Unlike his arguably misdirected finger-pointing at de Blasio for the census results, Donovan’s budget statement went largely unnoticed.)
There would have been near-total silence on the proposed city budget if it weren’t for Politico New York’s Sally Goldenberg’s question at a Monday night mayoral forum hosted by the Met Council. The budget has grown by more than $20 billion over de Blasio’s tenure. Is it the right size, or too big? And if it’s too big, what would you cut?

The four candidates in attendance all questioned whether the mayor has been spending efficiently. New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer said his office would be coming out with a deep dive in the coming weeks, but was happy to say, “I told you so,” noting that he argued against the city borrowing $5 billion before federal aid was secured. “(De Blasio) finally agreed with me,” Stringer said, seemingly forgetting that he was the one who had actually softened his previous opposition and argued in favor of borrowing in September.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams was clear, saying the budget is too large and that it needs to look “at a 3% to 5% cut to all of our agencies” because federal pandemic aid will not last. Kathryn Garcia pointed to revenue, saying property taxes have been “going up incredibly fast,” which means “we need to rein the government in.” But Garcia has done that before, saying she “cut $100 million out of the operating budget without a layoff” as chief operating officer at the Department of Environmental Protection.

Andrew Yang talked about growing the budget, saying that the current spending is too much “if it’s business as usual (but) if you’re trying to spend on actually catalyzing a recovery, then we could be spending much more than we’re spending now.”

McGuire didn’t attend the forum, but when asked, his team sent a previously unreleased statement saying “far too much” of the federal aid “is going to more bloated programs and payroll rather than directly to the New Yorkers who need it most to restart our economy.” He named a few areas that could use increased spending, such as tutoring programs. Maya Wiley and Dianne Morales didn’t attend the forum, and didn’t release statements on the budget. A spokesperson for the Morales campaign said they “didn’t feel rushed” to respond. After all – almost none of the other candidates did.

Four opponents call on Stringer to withdraw

After Jean Kim’s sexual abuse allegation against Scott Stringer rocked the mayoral race, all seven other leading Democratic candidates applauded Kim for her bravery to come forward – but most of them stopped short of calling for Stringer to drop out of the race. Shaun Donovan and Kathryn Garcia were the first two candidates to call for Stringer to drop out on Wednesday in light of Kim’s allegations, with Donovan giving the most pointed statement calling on Stringer to not only withdraw from the race but also “resign his office.” By Thursday, Maya Wiley followed Donovan and Garcia, saying that after hearing Kim and Stringer’s sides of the story – with Kim saying the sexual advances were not consensual and Stringer saying their “on and off” relationship was consensual – it was clear to her that “Scott Stringer doesn’t understand when someone has said ‘no.’” Late Thursday night, Dianne Morales joined the chorus, releasing a statement saying “a mayoral race is not the right platform to dissect the many layers this situation warrants,” and called on Stringer to withdraw from the race and resign as comptroller.

Stringer loses endorsements

Progressive Women of New York, a 4-year-old organization with 1,600 female and nonbinary members, tells Campaign Confidential it has rescinded its endorsement of Stringer following the sexual assault allegation. Stringer had been the group’s third-ranked endorsement, behind Dianne Morales and Maya Wiley. A few of Stringer’s many endorsers also pulled their support, including state Sens. Jessica Ramos and Jabari BrisportUFCW Local 1500The Jewish VoteFood & Water Action – which had planned to support him with a super PAC – and a group of Democratic district leaders in Queens. But some of Stringer’s most prominent supporters, Rep. Jerry Nadler and the United Federation of Teachers, both tell Campaign Confidential they’re sticking with their candidate. “The UFT has a long history of working with Scott Stringer and has always found him both supportive of educators and an advocate for women. At the same time, any accusations of this nature need to be listened to and carefully weighed,” a UFT spokesperson said in a statement.

“It makes so much sense to me that she would be running for office”

When asked for her record, Maya Wiley’s response becomes a run-on sentence. The “visionary” Wiley is unquestionably experienced, especially in the realm of civil rights, but some of that experience – especially in the de Blasio administration – hasn’t left a positive impression on the progressive base she’s courting. Read more about Wiley’s professional history in that latest edition of City & State’s For the Record series, this one written by staff reporter Rebecca C. Lewis.

Club to Jay Jacobs: get lost

Things haven’t quieted down between New York progressives and the politically moderate leader of the state Democratic Party, Jay Jacobs. First in Campaign Confidential, the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, a progressive LGBTQ political club based in Manhattan, is demanding his resignation, with the club’s President Allen Roskoff saying Jacobs is “subservient” to Gov. Andrew Cumo and “is not the strong, ethical and independent voice needed by increasingly progressive, diverse and forward-thinking party members.” Jacobs most recently caught progressives’ ire for publicly pouncing on the candidacy of Rana Abdelhamid, who plans to challenge Rep. Carolyn Maloney next year, and for defending critics of the “excluded workers” fund, which was included in the state budget.

Endorsement Watch

Borough Park United – a coalition of Hasidic Jewish sects – endorsed Andrew Yang for mayor … and a story in response, claiming a number of ultra-Orthodox supporters for Eric Adams, had to be fact-checked by Hamodia, which reported that some of the leaders named denied endorsing Adams … TWU Local 100, however definitely did endorse Adams, and not Yang, who had been courting the union … women’s rights activist Gloria Steinem and civil rights lawyer Roberta Kaplan endorsed Maya Wiley for mayor … the Stonewall Democrats of New York City released another round of endorsements, including Dan Quart for Manhattan district attorney, Jo Anne Simon for Brooklyn borough president and Donovan Richards for Queens borough president – making it the third LGBTQ club to back Richards over Jimmy Van Bramer, who is gay … Richards and comptroller candidate David Weprin have cross-endorsed each other … Rep. Nydia Velázquez endorsed Mark Levine for Manhattan borough president … state Sen. John Liu endorsed Linda Lee ranked first and Jaslin Kaur ranked second in District 23 in Queens, and in District 19, Liu’s endorsing Austin Shafran over his old foe Tony Avella.

Got tips? Email or or send a DM to @JCColtin or @SydneyKashiwagi

Poll Sight

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. isn’t the only resident of the borough who likes Eric Adams for mayor. That’s according to a massive landline phone poll of 14,290 likely Democratic voters who live in the Bronx, conducted by consulting firm Consense Strategies from April 20-24. Adams being in first isn’t too surprising, but the rest of the results were eye-raising – including Scott Stringer sitting in last place (and that was before the sexual assault allegation). Big caveat: The results weren’t weighted, meaning the results of the robocall survey reflects a significantly older – and altogether different – population than the people expected to vote in the Bronx in June. So the poll is an outlier, but there’s always information to be gleaned. And in this case, a cool map of geographic support.


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Image Credit: 
Alex Law/City & State

District Data


City Council District 50
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City Council District 50
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City Council District 50
City Council District 50
City Council District 50
Image Credit: 
Alex Law/City & State

City Council District 50 in the middle of Staten Island, covering the neighborhoods of Todt Hill, Westerleigh and Bloomfield

Current council member: Steven Matteo since 2014, who is term-limited at the end of this year and currently running for borough president

2010 census demographics: 71.2% white, 13.1% Hispanic,  11.7% Asian and Pacific Islander, 2.3% Black

Housing: 64.5% owner-occupied, 35.5% renter-occupied

2013 primary election results: Matteo: 55.2%, Lisa Giovinazzo: 44.8%

2017 general election results: Matteo: 78.5%, Richard Florentino: 20.1%

Who’s running: David CarrSal AlbaneseJordan HafiziMarko KepiSam PirozzoloKathleen Sforza and George Wonica. The race to replace the term-limited New York City Council minority leader has been underway for nearly two years. It will be a crowded Republican primary, and the lone Democrat, Sal Albanese, will be waiting for a challenger once the winner of the primary is declared. The race will be another test of whether an incumbent’s protege can become his boss’s successor. Before Matteo won the seat in 2013, he served as the then-Council Member James Oddo’s chief of staff. Before Oddo won the same seat in 1999, he served as the chief of staff to then-Council Member John Fusco. Now David Carr – Matteo’s chief of staff – is trying to replicate what has proven to be a winning formula. Carr received Matteo’s endorsement as well as the endorsement from the Staten Island Republican Party. And political observers see Carr as a top contender. “It’s certainly the formula that’s worked in the district, the transmission line stretching back to Oddo,” College of Staten Island political science professor Richard Flanagan said. “So we’re talking a generation of Republican aides running pragmatic centrist, slightly right of center campaigns – a lot of emphasis on constituent service with union backing – and then holding on to that seat even though there’s a lot of registered Democrats there.” George Wonica won the endorsement of the borough’s Conservative Party, which backed Matteo in 2013 and 2017. However, Albanese has not only the backing of the island’s Democratic Party but also politically powerful police unions: the Police Benevolent Association, Sergeants Benevolent Association, Lieutenants Benevolent Association and Detectives’ Endowment Association.

Twitter Posting

Please stop saying “I’m not a politician” when you’re running for an elected position.

– Navjot for New York #FreeCUNYNow @SikhVotes

Jeff Coltin
is a senior reporter at City & State. He covers New York City Hall.
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