By Phineas Rueckert
New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer is expected to announce his 2021 mayoral candidacy in the not-so-distant future, and he hinted as much during a tour of central Queens on Tuesday.
“This is not the last conversation we’re going to have,” Stringer told Flushing residents as he concluded a question-and-answer session with Queens Community Board 7 members.
Stringer met with community leaders, fielded questions from senior citizens and toured the Flushing Business Improvement District in what he called a “learning expedition to hear the challenges people face.”
“Being here today with different business owners, with the business improvement district, with the representatives of the community board, this is the only way you can really plot strategy to make lives better,” Stringer told the Eagle. “I do this because as comptroller I have to look at innovative ways to grow the economy and keep working people in New York City.”
CB 7, which includes the neighborhoods of Bay Terrace, College Point, Beechhurst, Flushing, Malba, Queensborough Hill, Whitestone and Willets Point, is the largest in the city, representing more than 250,000 people.
At the meeting, which took place at the Queens Botanical Garden in Flushing, Stringer fielded a wide range of questions, including the effect of bus rapid transit systems on small businesses to plans to close the jail on Rikers Island and replace it with four borough-based jails, with construction slated to begin in 2021.
Stringer was unequivocal that the Rikers jails need to be shuttered for good.
“It’s a system and physical plant that’s so deteriorated it would cost billions [to fix it],” he said, citing audits and analyses his office has completed.
Stringer also met with several hundred seniors engaged with Korean Community Services at Flushing Senior Center as well as shop owners in the Flushing Business District.
“Seeing is believing, so having an opportunity to tour with business leaders, listen to what the shop owners have to say, it’s pretty clear that city government has to be more on the ground listening,” Stringer told the Eagle after the tour.
He also plugged his “NYC Under 3” Child Care Proposal,” which he has proposed funding through a tax on large business owners, and his NYC For All affordable housing plan. Stringer said his childcare plan would allow 20,000 parents to re-enter the workforce and generate $540 million in additional revenue for the city.
“Our report just shows the amount of childcare deserts around the city, especially in Queens where you have a booming population,” he said. “This would be a gamechanger for our city and for our country, because if we could do it here we could emulate this in every part of the country.”
His outreach, combined with early fundraising, could give him a leg up in the upcoming mayoral race. Stringer, whose potential run has already been endorsed by State Sen. Jessica Ramos, raised nearly $825,000 in the first six months of the 2021 filing period, the Daily News reported last July.