Op-Ed: Liftin Makes her Case for Comptroller

Terri Liftin Contributed photo

My name is Terri Liftin, and I’m running to be the next comptroller for the City of New York. I’ll bet you didn’t know that.

By definition, first-time candidates for public office run as political outsiders. Because I’m new to the business of politics, I’m doing everything for the first time. So it’s hard to connect with voters, especially in the time of COVID-19.

Being an outsider has brought me the freedom to talk to New Yorkers about the issues that matter most to them. As an outsider, though, I need to raise enough money to buy newspaper and online ads, TV and radio time. That is the measure by which the media, pollsters, and political consultants all keep score.

On the campaign trail, I often ask myself what matters most: My qualifications and ideas or how much money I’ve raised? Unfortunately, the answer is money. Without money, I can’t get out my ideas for improving the office of comptroller.

Politics is, and always has been, a retail business. But, for a political novice running for citywide office in 2021, it’s challenging enough to meet-and-greet voters with a mask and elbow bump, let alone a handshake.

Nonetheless, credentials and ideas still matter in campaigns for elective office. This is particularly true in the race for comptroller, not a political office but one of the most important city jobs.

As I campaign by Zoom and at a safe social distance, people throughout the city say they like me and my ideas. “You’re so smart. Why haven’t I seen your ads, dear?” a politically-informed, elderly woman asked me on the streets of Sunnyside. “Because,” I replied, “I haven’t raised enough money.”

I joined the race for comptroller (liftin2021.com) because our city lacks the leadership and professional expertise to confront its immense financial and social challenges. We should elect the candidate who is most qualified and prepared to be the next comptroller. Not the candidate who’s raised the most money.

The comptroller’s office is not a place where people sit around and do “comptroller stuff.” It should not be treated as a four or eight-year, publicly-financed springboard to run for mayor.

The responsibilities of the comptroller include serving as a fiduciary to city workers’ pension funds, certifying the city’s third-party contracts, auditing city agencies and handling litigation brought by and against the city.

During the most recent fundraising period, which closed on March 11, I reported approximately $65,000. Several of my opponents — the male, incumbent, career pols — have been running and raising money for years. Thanks to the city’s eight-to-one matching program, they today have millions of dollars on hand for the comptroller’s race.

Incumbents, of course, have a natural advantage when raising money. That advantage is even more pronounced for career politicians who have access to constituencies established through years of building email databases and political alliances.

The June 22nd primary date is fast approaching and it’s clear I am unable to compete financially against my politically-established opponents. Communicating for free through social media is not enough. So I decided to write this column for Schneps Media readers to help them decide — on the merits — if I should be their first or second-ranked choice for comptroller.

I graduated from Barnard College in 1990 and received an advanced degree in economics from NYU. I worked as an economic analyst at the Port Authority of NY & NJ; my responsibilities included monitoring monetary policy, researching new leading economic indicators and performing statistical analysis of capital investments.

It was at the Port Authority that I learned the interplay between macroeconomics and government policy. In September 1994, I received a Dean’s Merit Scholarship to attend Brooklyn Law School and graduated with a J.D. in 1997.

As a young attorney, I worked at two law firms. First, as an associate in a litigation department where my focus was on learning how to resolve complex court cases. Second, as an associate in an investment management and broker-dealer regulatory practice. I guided broker-dealers and asset management firms on how to comply with state and federal financial rules and regulations.

For the past 15 years, I’ve served as the chief legal and chief compliance officer for three multi-strategy, private investment firms based in New York City, two of which had strategies that invested in real estate.

With my teams, I was responsible for negotiating investment terms on behalf of investors, including state, local and union pension plans. I performed legal and regulatory due diligence on underlying investment managers and investments, developing and implementing audit programs that tested and monitored expenses and third-party contracts and overseeing all regulatory registrations, filings and staff training.

I know my way around a budget and will protect taxpayer dollars from waste, fraud and abuse. You know, comptroller stuff.

Terri Liftin is running in the Democratic primary for Comptroller of The City of New York.
Editor’s Note: It is the policy of PoliticsNY to post all op-eds it receives. There are exceptions including blatantly hateful and derogatory op-eds along with some exceptions during election times. In this case, we will take up to two op-eds per candidate until May 10, and generally will not post op-eds from supporters of candidates. The op-eds do not reflect the views of PoliticsNY.

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