Op-Ed: Weprin Right Person to Handle City’s Fiscal Woes

Comptroller Candidate and Assemblyman David Weprin. Photo from Weprin campaign.

New York is no stranger to fiscal woes. In the mid-1970s, the City was in chaos, experiencing never-before-seen severe economic and political troubles. Then, in 2008, the national economy crashed, triggering a meltdown that ripped billions in tax revenue from the City’s coffers. And now, thanks to the pandemic, we’re staring down the worst financial situation since the 1970s fiscal crisis.

As someone who was instrumental in helping New York navigate its way out of economic turmoil 45 years ago who was also tapped with fixing its finances in 2008, I’ve experienced first-hand the crisis and fear of New York City not being able to meet its financial obligations. And it’s very similar to what we’re facing today. 

New York City can play a major role in addressing its problems over the next few years and beyond by ensuring the players in charge of its finances have the City’s best interests in mind. Voters need to look at the level of financial knowledge someone brings to the job, especially when it comes to casting their vote for the City’s next comptroller.

I made a pledge to myself that I wouldn’t endorse anyone in local politics. Yet this is no ordinary time. Between my deep affection for the Weprin family and knowing the quality public servant that David Weprin is, I knew it was time to make my voice heard.  

I’ve watched David’s career in public service, and I have great admiration for his skill and knowledge. Its roots like his make him the obvious choice when it comes to safeguarding the City’s fiscal health. But he needs to move forward with a few things in mind.

While one might think there are parallels between what’s happening now versus what was going on in the 70s, there is no similarity. We’re staring down a combination of reduced revenue and failing revenue growth while expenses continue to grow. There’s still a lot of uncertainty about how much President Biden will provide for New York. The City has a growing set of obligations it’s assumed with real risks to revenue. What we need is a strong politician who will ensure the working- and middle-class families are protected.

Our most vulnerable residents cannot be the ones who are held responsible for bringing the City’s finances out of the red. Politicians are going to have to look at ways to bring in revenue without asking a struggling population to carry a huge tax burden. They also can’t cut public services, as these New Yorkers will be impacted the most. David has the necessary experience to make sure this doesn’t happen. He has before and he will again. He’s the only candidate who has balanced a City budget and he’s worked for the City during a financial crisis before.

New Yorkers need someone who will stand up for them and I believe that person is David Weprin. Anyone who is concerned about the future of the City should look to him to be a steady hand, fighting to make New York affordable for all – from the retirees who are worried about their pensions, to the small business owners, to the immigrants who moved here for the chance at a better life.

-Richard Ravitch is a politician and businessman who served as 75th lieutenant governor of New York from 2009 to 2010. He’s held several government and government-appointed positions, including with the New York State Urban Development Corporation and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. His involvement in private industry includes tenures as chairman of the Bowery Savings Bank and as the chief owner representative in labor negotiations for Major League Baseball.