City Comptroller Scott Stringer officially launched his mayoral campaign Tuesday, bashing developers and showing off endorsements from some of the state’s top progressive officials.
Gathered outside Inwood Hill Park near his childhood home, Stringer pledged to “end the crushing cycle of speculation, eviction and displacement.” He billed himself as the progessive in the race, a claim evidenced by the politicians on hand for the announcement.
They included several senators who have made the state legislature a hostile place for the real estate industry: Julia Salazar, Alessandra Biaggi and Jessica Ramos.
Tuesday’s announcement underscored an apparent theme of Stringer’s campaign: That he will go to bat against the city’s powerful real estate industry.
Sen. Brian Kavanagh, who chairs his chamber’s housing committee, credited Stringer with fighting changes sought by landlords to the state’s rent stabilization law two decades ago, when the comptroller was a state Assembly member.
Those changes, among other things, allowed landlords to deregulate vacant units when rent reached a certain level. Vacancy decontrol was eliminated as part of the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019.
“Scott has consistently fought for economic and social justice in our city,” said Salazar, one of the legislators who spearheaded sweeping changes to the rent law last year. “I know I can trust Scott to be the people’s mayor, to prioritize communities’ urgent needs over the needs and the interests of the more powerful and the wealthy.”
When asked by a reporter if he’d seek an endorsement from the Democratic Socialists of America — which helped elect some of the lawmakers who spoke at Tuesday’s press conference — Stringer said he was working to gain the support of many groups, though he appeared to nod in the affirmative when asked a second time.
It was not immediately clear if the DSA will support Stringer, whose politics over the years have been more moderate than those of the far-left group.
When asked about the proposed rezoning of Industry City, Stringer said he has opposed the mayor’s “misguided rezonings” but hasn’t decided his position on the one sought by the Sunset Park business campus. The DSA’s south Brooklyn chapter tweeted Tuesday that rezoning would “enable Williamsburg-style gentrification in Sunset Park.”
Back in January, Stringer unveiled his “universal affordable housing” plan, which would require a project with 10 units or more to set aside at least 25 percent as affordable. He also proposed eliminating the 421a tax break and creating a community land bank to create permanently affordable housing on city-owned sites.
“No more giving away the store to developers,” he said Tuesday. “No more unaffordable affordable housing. We will put an end to the gentrification industrial complex and end policies that perpetuate a cycle of segregation in our neighborhoods and in our schools.”
The 2021 mayoral race is already fairly crowded, with nearly a dozen potential candidates, including City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, former Secretary of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan and Maya Wiley, former counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Of the three elected officials running, only Adams is accepting contributions from real estate interests, although Stringer and Johnson have done so in the past.