If Eliot Spitzer is being shunned by most elected officials, his rival, Scott Stringer, has ties to Democratic politics stretching back decades. But the Manhattan borough president insists he'd still be an independent watchdog if elected comptroller. Stringer talked exclusively with NY1's Josh Robin and filed the following report.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer says challenging people has its place, only to a point.
"The truth is that one of the things that I'm known for is making sure that I have maintained my independence, but that I'm going to able to work with the next mayor," Stringer said. "You have to have two skills, Josh, for this job."
It's a job that will require the next occupant to give an accurate portrait of city finances.
Dozens of labor contracts are expired. Stringer ducked the question about whether public workers should pay for health care, calling it a matter for closed-door talks. He stressed that he understands that costs are ballooning.
"At some point, this has all got to come home to roost," he said. "I grew up during the 1970s during the city's fiscal crisis, when New York City was on the edge of bankruptcy."
Later, Stringer went into business, a rare, unsuccessful time in the private sector. Both bars failed.
"Look, 24 years ago I did what a lot of people do. We tried to be involved in a startup business that didn't work out," he said. "It was a very long time ago, decades ago. And it has sensitized me to the plight of small business owners."
As for the pension funds, Stringer seems wary of attempts to leverage for corporate government changes, as Eliot Spitzer suggests.
"You're a fiduciary. This is not your money," he said. "You can't play with other people's money. So I'm going to look at these issues through the lens of how we grow our fund."
He does support divestments, saying he wants to draw up a plan for exactly when to strip New York's money from objectionable companies.
He said that getting change may require more than just pulling investments.
"You cannot simply vote shares given our investments in these big companies and think you can move the needle without building a coalition," he said.
According to him, building one requires skills possessed by just one person in the primary.