STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) on Tuesday backed Republican Wall Street veteran John Burnett for city comptroller, joining Burnett for a campaign swing through the St. George Ferry Terminal.
Grimm said that the comptroller is “one of the most important offices in the city,” responsible for overseeing the city’s $40 billion pension system and for auditing city agencies.
“When people keep talking about waste, fraud and abuse, the only way you’re getting rid of it is if the comptroller does their job,” Grimm said.
He also said the comptroller plays an important role in guiding the city financially and looking to grow the city economy.
“I want to see someone that hasn’t been through the ranks of New York City politics and bureaucracy,” Grimm said. “I want to see someone with private sector experience, with goal- and results-oriented optics, if you will.”
“We need someone who’s going to be able to advise the mayor, and not be beholden to the mayor,” Grimm said. “Someone who will objectively do what needs to be done and take on the tough issues. I think John Burnett epitomizes what I’m looking for.”
But Grimm acknowledged that it’s a tough year for Republicans. Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio is well ahead of Republican Joe Lhota in the polls; there is no GOP candidate against Letitia James for public advocate, and the comptroller’s race flies under the radar in the best of years.
“There’s no question this is an uphill battle,” Grimm said. “But you gotta try. You have to give the voters options.”
Burnett said he was “honored” by the Grimm endorsement.
“He is highly respected,” said Burnett. “I appreciate the support across the board. It is definitely needed. This is the sort of race that is second-fiddle with respect to New York City politics. Sometimes it flies below the radar.”
Burnett is battling Democrat Scott Stringer in the Nov. 5 general election.
By Tom Wrobleski of Staten Island Advance