At Bed-Stuy town hall, Stringer’s mayoral run takes shape
The next mayoral election is more than two years away, but at a town hall in Bedford-Stuyvesant Tuesday night, Comptroller Scott Stringer made his intentions to seek the office crystal clear. A local resident approached Stringer and asked, “Are you gonna run for mayor?”
“Yes,” Stringer replied.
It was an easily missable moment — and one staffers seemed surprised by. Stringer hasn’t officially declared his 2021 candidacy, though he has been fundraising and speaking broadly about a campaign since earlier this year.
The exchange came at the end of a two-hour question-and-answer session, during which Stringer responded to neighbors with answers that sounded more like campaign rhetoric than relaying the duties of the city’s chief financial officer.
“I’ve learned a lot through these meetings,” Stringer said during his opening remarks. “The more I go around, the more I realize just how in crisis we are when it comes to the ‘unaffordable city.’”
“We need entrepreneurship in all communities,
not just the big corporations.”
Billed as an opportunity for residents to tell Stringer “what’s on your mind,” “help improve New York City,” and “learn what the comptroller’s office can do for you,” residents expressed concern over issues that have plagued Brooklynites over the past decade: the crumbling of long-established small businesses; the lack of affordable housing; and fears of gentrification.
When asked about rising rents in Brooklyn, Stringer said, “I have been the elected official that has opposed these ill-advised rezonings, because what’s happening is we build 30-story buildings, and then the gentrification forces people out.”
Stringer said the city must draft a new housing plan with “a $400 million revolving fund” for development and a land bank trust, “so we can look at our vacant property and give it to community-based organizations” for development that benefits local residents.
He also made a more general call for a return to greater community-based planning in regard to housing.
“We are building housing the wrong way,” he continued. “I just issued a report that showed that there are 580,000 people that are one step away from homelessness [and] the housing that we’re building is not for them.”
He said that most of those surveyed are working-class people, including taxi drivers, restaurant workers, health care aides and others who are behind on rent or already in alternative shelters. “Without these folks we would not survive as a city, yet we are slowly forcing them out.”
Attendees also wanted to know how the community might benefit from the state’s potential legalization of recreational marijuana and the expected new tax revenue generated by its passing.
Stringer said that one of the myriad aspects of the billion-dollar industry he “thinks about” is “not to simply use this revenue to pay for subways or pay for roads and bridges; I do believe there has to be cannabis equality in the community.”
The comptroller demurred when pressed for specifics.
“We’ll see what rules are promulgated,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle after the event. “This is where we’re going to have to get it right; we need entrepreneurship in all communities, not just the big corporations.”
The event was held at Restoration Plaza on Fulton Street, home to the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, a community development organization that, just hours earlier, announced it will seek to redesign the complex.
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