Katz begins comptroller run

Councilwoman Melinda Katz (l.) holds her son, Carter, while talking to a constituent outside her home after kicking off her campaign. Photo by Stephen Stirling
By Stephen Stirling

City Councilwoman Melinda Katz (D−Forest Hills) formally launched her campaign for city comptroller Sunday afternoon, opting for the front lawn of her home for the occasion instead of the more typical steps of City Hall.

“I could’ve had dozens of reporters here if I did that,” Katz said. “But this is my neighborhood, this is where I grew up. And I wanted to show where my values come from.”

State Assemblyman Jose Peralta (D−Corona), Councilwoman Melissa Mark−Viverito (D−Manhattan), Councilwoman Maria Carmen Del Arroyo (D−Bronx) and about 100 supporters joined Katz outside her Forest Hills home as she formally joined the crowded race to become the city’s next chief financial officer.

Katz, who has been registered for the race for two years with the city Campaign Finance Board, faces a tough battle against two fellow Queens officials—Councilmen John Liu (D−Flushing) and David Weprin (D−Hollis)—as well as Councilman David Yassky (D−Brooklyn) in the Democratic primary in September.

Incumbent William Thompson is vacating his seat to challenge Mayor Michael Bloomberg in November’s election.

During what could be considered her first stump speech, Katz stressed the need to create jobs and bolster affordable housing and aid reeling small businesses and homeowners.

“We need someone who’s going to use the tools of the comptroller’s office perhaps in ways they’ve never been used before,” Katz said.

Katz has been a fixture in Queens politics for more than 15 years. Elected to the state Assembly at 28 years old in 1994, Katz narrowly lost a congressional race against current U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D−Forest Hills) in 1998 before leaving the Assembly for the City Council in 2001.

Del Arroyo said Katz’s preparation for the race is what sets her apart.

“Melinda Katz has been working to build her case for this job for more than two years,” she said. “Melinda has never once wavered in her position.”

Del Arroyo was referring to Liu, the top fund−raiser in the race, who had initially registered as a candidate for public advocate but was evasive about what position he planned to seek. Liu rejects the criticism and has been campaigning hard since launching his campaign last month.

Sunday at City Hall, Liu announced he has received the endorsement of Latino Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat (D−Manhattan).

“John is a candidate for New York’s future — someone whose training and experience positions him well to lead our city forward, especially in these tough economic times,” Espillat said.

In Forest Hills, Katz, who also had a strong showing of Latino support, said she plans to conduct a “five−borough economic tour” in the coming months to outline her vision for the comptroller’s office.

“As I continue to develop more and more ideas for utilizing the vast resources of the office of comptroller, it will be the stories and dilemmas of real New Yorkers that inspire new, innovative solutions to making this city great again,” she said.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e−mail at sstirling@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 138.

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