As City Comptroller, Scott Stringer has exposed waste and mismanagement in every city agency. He has overseen growth in the City’s $240-billion pension funds, the fourth largest in the nation, to record levels. He took on the private prison industry and the world’s largest fossil fuel companies, advancing the causes of climate justice and decarceration. He forced corporations across America to diversify their boardrooms. His plans for a comprehensive city-run childcare program would make New York the national leader. And over the last year, every step of the way, he’s pushed Bill de Blasio to fix the City’s response to COVID-19.
But long before Scott Stringer was the City of New York’s chief financial officer, he was a kid from Washington Heights.
Born and raised in a rent-regulated apartment at 1 Bogardus Place, by his mom, Arlene, a City school teacher, and later his stepfather, Carlos Cuevas, Scott is a proud graduate of New York City public schools and CUNY — P.S. 152, J.H.S. 52, John F. Kennedy High School, and John Jay College.
Scott began his career in public service as an aide to then-Assemblymember Jerry Nadler and tenant organizer on the Upper West Side. He was elected to the State Assembly in 1992, where he made waves fighting against George Pataki’s tax cuts for the wealthy and standing up to leaders of his own party to protect tenants’ rights. Scott was arrested protesting the police murder of Amadou Diallo, passed a landmark anti-stalking law to protect victims of domestic violence, was an original co-sponsor of marriage equality legislation, and led a group of insurgent legislators to pass the first rules reforms in Albany in a generation.
As Manhattan Borough President, Scott reformed the Community Board appointment process and supported community-based planning to put neighborhood needs ahead of developer profits. He created “School Overcrowding War Rooms” and forced the Department of Education to build new schools. He helped launch the campaign against fracking in New York State, worked to reduce food insecurity and asthma rates in East Harlem, fought for more protected bike lanes and stronger traffic enforcement, and was an early and outspoken critic of the NYPD’s use of stop-and-frisk.
Elected City Comptroller in 2013 after an upset victory over former Governor Eliot Spitzer, Scott has overseen growth in New York City’s pension funds from $147 billion to $240 billion. He overhauled the back office of the pension funds, instituted new ethics, risk management, and compliance practices, banned “placement agents,” and aligned fees paid to investment advisors with their performance on behalf of city workers and retirees.
Under Scott’s leadership, the Comptroller’s office has audited every city agency, saving millions of taxpayer dollars and improving city services. His investigations have exposed unsafe and deplorable conditions at homeless shelters and public housing, forcing much-needed improvements. His creation of ClaimStat, a tool to transparently analyze claims against the City and encourage agencies to improve their practices, has already saved taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. And he has been a consistent voice for responsible budgeting and long-term planning, calling for more savings from City Hall to better prepare for fiscal downturns.
At the same time, Scott led New York City’s pension funds to make the historic decision to divest $4 billion from the fossil fuel industry. Scott was called “one of the strongest voices for climate action in the financial sector” by Bill McKibben, a founder of the climate advocacy group 350.org and a leader of fossil fuel divestment efforts. And he has used the power of the pension funds to diversify boardrooms across America and strengthen corporate governance at Fortune 500 companies.
Building on his decades of activism against systemic racism in the criminal justice system, Scott also led the pension funds to divest from the private prison industry. He has published detailed plans to end the criminalization of poverty, reinvest police dollars in communities, and transform the City’s approach to public safety, and was the first citywide official to call for the closure of the jail on Rikers Island.
Scott has brought his commitment to tenants’ rights and affordable housing to the Comptroller’s office, opposing rezonings that would increase displacement pressures on longtime residents and auditing NYCHA more times than all previous Comptrollers combined. He has put out detailed plans to create a land bank and use vacant lots to create permanently affordable housing, refocus the City’s investments on low-income housing, and require affordability in every new development.
A leader in the fight for diversity and inclusion throughout city agencies and in city contracts, Scott grades every City agency, every year, on their work with minority- and women-owned businesses (M/WBEs). He increased the share of M/WBE spending in the Comptroller’s office from 13% to 50%. And after years of advocacy, in 2020, City Hall heeded Scott’s call for Chief Diversity Officers at every agency.
Scott and his wife, Elyse Buxbaum, live in Manhattan and are the proud parents of Max (9) and Miles (7), who are students at P.S. 33. Like so many New Yorkers — and with greater advantages than most — they have faced the challenges of the pandemic, first-hand. The Stringer family tragically lost Scott’s mom, Arlene, to the coronavirus in April 2020. And today, in their two-bedroom apartment, Scott and Elyse continue to juggle two jobs and two kids’ schooling.
Scott Stringer has a big agenda for City Hall — to rebuild our city, and our economy, stronger and fairer than ever before.