Could Brad Lander Be the City’s Next Comptroller?

Brad Lander speaking at the 9th Street Vision Zero Redesign walkthrough (Photo: Nathan Haselby)

PARK SLOPE/KENSINGTON — All but fifteen members are term-limited in New York City 51-member council body. And as the 2021 municipal elections approach, some lawmakers have their sites on other offices, including Brad Lander, who opened a committee to be the city’s next comptroller.

“I love serving the people in this city and I want to keep doing that,” said Lander.  “That’s part of what motivates me. To think what are the ways I can be of best service to the city and the values that we share going forward.”

Lander represents the 39th council district which covers Brooklyn’s brownstone belt, including Parks Slope, Windsor Terrace, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Gowanus and parts of Borough Park and Kensington. Lander first assumed office in 2010, succeeding now-Mayor Bill de Blasio when he ascended to the office of public advocate.

Lander has raised more than $200,000 in his pursuit of the office.

“You do have to keep your eye on the long term and that’s why I filed this committee,” Lander said adding that 2021 is a long time away with much “important” work from him in between.

He’s not exaggerating. A portion of his district is undergoing a massive rezoning. Lander, who has a masters in Urban Planning from Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute, is spearheading the project and will either seek approval from his fellow council members when the plan is up to vote. The Gowanus rezoning plan is meant to develop a formerly industrial neighborhood into a mix of uses, affordable housing and job growth.

And while Gowanus is a colossal undertaking, responsibilities for the city-wide position dwarf that of any councilmember.

The comptroller leads a staff of nearly 800 and has a working annual budget of $110 million in 2019, according to a spokesperson. The office serves as the chief fiscal czar, auditing city agencies and including serving as a fiduciary to the city’s five public funds totaling $160 billion. Comptroller Scott Stringer currently holds the office but cannot seek re-election because of term limits.

“The way I think about the comptroller’s office is it’s the office assigned to take the longterm view on what matters in the city,” Lander said. “It’s the place that has the responsibility for strengthening trust in government by keeping an eye on the premises that we make.

“And that could be the promise to sector workers that they’ll have retriment security, which you achieve by managing pension funds well,” he added. “That is by doing the audits of all city agencies, and saying — you know, it’s important that we keep an eye on whether they’re doing the job right. And that’s both protecting against waste, fraud and abuse but it’s also thinking what can we do better because we’re paying more attention to what all this new data is telling us about how we’re providing those services.

Currently, the lawmaker is working on a bill that would protect the city’s fast-food workers from unfair firings.

“Following on the work we’ve done to get people stable schedules and a decent wage, were’ going to try to provide that protection as well,” noting a “shifting economy” has put so many people in precarious positions.

“That’s a thing I would really like to use the comptroller’s office to do, in a shifting economy,” he said. “How do we keep it thriving and vibrant but make sure workers have some stability and basic protections,” noting how the growth of the gig economy leaves freelancers vulnerable to employment abuse just like fast-food workers.

“And that’s really true for workers across the income spectrum,” he said, about a measure that would disrupt the city’s at-will employment rules forever.

Like his potential candidacy, Lander prioritizes the longterm view.

“Similarly in thinking about the economic future of the city, you’ve got a responsibility, he said of the comptroller position. “You’ve got a team of economists, a team of auditors, you keep your eye on the budget. But it’s not only keeping your eye on this year’s budget but is the budget sound for the long term? Are we investing in infrastructure in a sound way?”

“And obviously at this point in time, you have to be thinking about things like climate change,” adding the importance of incorporating climate change its impact on the economy.

Lander will face at least one other lawmaker in the 2021 comptroller race. Manhattan City Council Helen Rosenthal has also filed a committee.

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Kadia Goba

Former Politics Reporter for Bklyner, covering Brooklyn politics and Crown Heights/PLG/Bed Stuy. @kadiagoba


  1. Wasn’t Lander cited and fined for financial irregularities by the board of elections. This make Lander unqualified to watch over the city finances. All Lander has done during his term as city councilperson is to do everything to lower our quality of life. Lander along with the brainless councilwoman Chin, were the instigators behind the soon to be plastic bag ban as they have a problem with people getting free store bags. Now these Lander & Chin are going to force us all to pay a nickel for the soon to be paper bags. When was the last time these two did their own shopping. Don’t know about Chin, but Lander probably shops by car or gets home delivery like the rest of the rich in Park Slope. These two claim to be progressive so why do they support a regressive tax or fee on the poor? When introducing this proposal, it should be referred to as the Lander-Chin Nickel Bag Tax and this should be noted on all cashier lines so the voters are aware of who is responsible for their being nickel and dime to death.

  2. That phony Lander would bankrupt all of New York! Besides he’s not a New Yorker, and much like his fellow carpetbagger and far-left mentor Bill de Blasio should be teaching at a far-left university somewhere in his native Missouri.

  3. Lander, who is pushing the city to spend millions of dollars to bail out two of the worst developers in the city (Adam America and Slate) by renting 282 luxury apartments in two towers to turn them into luxury homeless shelters wants to be the city’s chief fiscal watchdog. Hilarious.

    At least he will get the votes of the sleaziest developers in the city! Slumlords for Lander!

  4. BradLander our city counciman dist #39 ! Is invisible to our concerns ( he has a portion 0f Borough Park ) , he approves commercial buildings , on overcrowded neighborhoods, No concerns over new housing in his dist all Condo’s . No concerns over lack of parking , No concern over drivers driving on sidewalk ! Pvt school buses taking up our paking at night , No concerns to blocked hydrants , hasnt attendeed community Board#12 meeting for over 8 month , He allows his elected male board members to speak with disrespect to other female boadmembers.. WAKE UP PEOPLE !

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