In 1983, he became a legislative assistant to Assemblyman, and future Congressman, Jerrold Nadler. During these years, he supported Democratic candidate Governor Mario Cuomo. In 1992, Stringer ran for Nadler’s Assembly seat representing the Upper West Side when Nadler replaced deceased Congressman Ted Weiss.
In 2001, Stringer ran a flaccid campaign for New York City Public Advocate. In 2005, he entered the race to succeed C. Virginia Fields as Manhattan Borough President. His candidacy was endorsed by the New York Times. On September 13, 2005, he won the Democratic primary against 9 other candidates and was later elected in the November general election. He took office as Borough President on January 1, 2006.
Early life and education
Scott Stringer served for thirteen years and six terms in the State Assembly, from 1992 until 2005. During his Assembly career, Stringer served as Chairman of the Cities Committee, Chairman of the Real Property Taxation Committee and Chairman of the Oversight, Analysis and Investigation Committee. He led the fight to end empty seat voting and reform the State Assembly’s rules of operation. He was a leader on issues of domestic violence, authoring anti-stalking legislation, affordable housing and good government reform.
As Borough President, Scott Stringer made reform of Manhattan’s community boards his first priority, implementing a merit-based application system and removing patronage and corruption from the appointment process. Borough President Stringer’s community board reform effort has brought 400 new members to Manhattan’s boards, with the number of African American and Asian American members growing by 40 percent, and the number of Latinos increasing by more than 25%. In 2009, the Borough President announced that his widely embraced Community Planning Fellowship program will be expanding city-wide with the help of the Mayor’s Office and the City University of New York.
As Borough President, Stringer has issued over forty policy reports designed to raise awareness about local issues and improve New York City. These reports have led the charge in addressing many of Manhattan’s most important challenges and issues, including: increasing community input and response to development and planning projects across the borough; introducing comprehensive reform and empowerment measures to Manhattan’s Community Boards; leading the fight to maintain and create new affordable housing units and schools across the borough; empowering parents to better participate in the public school system; investigating and recommending policy action on the city’s many transportation issues; and helping working families and small businesses access resources to become and remain self-sufficient.
Stringer has been a leader on progressive food policy in the city. For two years in a row, he hosted a conference on the subject. In December 2009, he joined with New York University and the not-for-profit Just Food to hold a day long conference attended by 1,000 New Yorkers that addressed the impact of food on the health of New York City’s people and their environment. He has released several policy reports on food policy, including Food in the Public Interest, FoodStat, and Red Tape, Green Vegetables.
In August 2010, the Stringer’s “Go Green East Harlem” initiative celebrated the opening of the Go Green East Harlem Asthma Center of Excellence, an asthma walk-in center in a East Harlem, where the rate of childhood asthma hospitalizations is the highest in the City and five times the national average.
Second Ave Subway line
Stringer is a proponent of the Second Avenue Subway Line and other mass transit initiatives. However, in 2009, Stringer was “dismayed that with every new delay the project loses momentum, gains opponents, and causes more hardship for the residents and businesses that have to live with the construction on a daily basis,” and has worked to try and make the MTA and city government more receptive to New Yorkers. In December 2010, he and his wife lived in the construction zone. After living there, Stringer held community meetings, called for Con Edison to reduce utility charges to merchants on Second Avenue who had lost their businesses, and worked to create an independent agency designed to supervise and monitor Second Avenue construction.
Throughout his tenure as Borough President, Stringer has supported new transportation initiatives such as bike lanes. After numerous constituent complaints, in 2010 the Borough President undertook a survey, Respect the Lane – Clear the Path, a policy report analyzing bike lane safety in Manhattan. During the course of the three day survey, a total of 1,700 infractions were witnessed. The survey found that while bike lanes have a tremendous positive impact on New York City, the lanes were being misused by all parties; pedestrians, motorists, and cyclists. Working with community leaders, elected officials, local businesses, and local residents, Stringer worked to raise awareness about bike lane safety, and recommended an “increase in protected bicycle lanes, which are separated from traffic by a physical barrier and stepped-up patrol by traffic enforcement agents to ticket scofflaws, along with better signage,” among others ideas.
Stringer has been the leading the fight in New York City against hydraulic fracturing in New York State. Stringer hosted many Manhattan Community Boards to discuss the potential problems associated with “fracking”, such as contamination to the water supply. Stringer also released a policy report in 2009, Uncalculated Risk: How Plans to Drill for Gas in Upstate New York could threaten New York City’s Water System, a report highlighting the impacts of “fracking”.
To celebrate Women’s History Month in March 2008, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s Office created a map of important Women’s Rights Historic Sites in Manhattan. The map includes 120 Manhattan locations where women who have helped shape New York City and the nation have lived, worked or where they have been honored.
On October 24, 2009, Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, along with NYC Parks & Recreation Manhattan Borough Commissioner Bill Castro and Stephen Scanniello, president of the Heritage Rose Foundation, broke ground on the nation’s first official Heritage Rose District in West Harlem and Southern Washington Heights.
On November 6, 2008, Stringer announced his decision to seek re-election as Manhattan Borough President. His Republican opponent, David Casavis, a history professor and foreign affairs writer/commentator, got 16% of the vote on a platform to abolish the office. In an October 5, 2009 article in City Limits, Stringer dismissed calls by Casavis and Mayor Bloomberg to eliminate his office: “There are people who are going to call for the elimination of the public advocate office, borough president, the City Council. There are people who believe that we should have a king system here,” says Stringer. “Borough presidents are part of a new era and a different kind of government. It has real responsibilities and it gives you a large footprint on the issues you get involved with. It’s up to the individual to take advantage of that, that you might have an impact.”
United States Senate consideration
In spring 2009, Stringer considered a primary challenge to incumbent United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. However, he announced in May 2009 that he would not run for the Senate. In his statement he said: “In light of President Obama’s clear desire to avoid a Democratic primary in New York State, I have decided to focus on my re-election race for Manhattan Borough President and to suspend my exploratory committee and fund-raising efforts for the 2010 Senate race. I firmly believe that innovative thinking on issues like education and the urban environment must be joined with bedrock Democratic values on gun control and immigration if New York’s interests are to be effectively represented in Washington.”
2013 New York Comptroller election
Stringer was considered one of several contenders for the 2013 New York City Mayoral primary before he announced in mid-November 2012 that he would instead run for city comptroller in the 2013 election. Stringer was challenged by former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer in the Democratic party primary. Stringer, originally thought to have the lead unopposed, trailed Spitzer in the polls until late August, when he took a two-point lead. Stringer defeated Spitzer in the September 10 primary, 52%–48%.
On August 28, 2001, Village Voice political writer Wayne Barrett wrote a lengthy piece entitled, “Mother Dearest & the Courthouse Cabal,” in which he discussed Stringer’s involvement in courtroom politics, specifically questioning how Stringer’s parents had benefited financially from his political ties, and whether some of his campaign contributors had done unethical things. Barrett also raised questions about whether Acting Supreme Court judge Louis York had attempted to gain Stringer’s support in his bid for a full term on the court by appointing Stringer’s mother nine times as a court evaluator and conservator.
New York political blogger James “Gatemouth” Ellroy, in an endorsement of Stringer’s re-election, criticized Stringer for “using the office to issue statements designed to please his constituents, mostly concerning matters not within his purview”.
The New York Daily News and the New York Post have published articles calling for the borough presidencies to be eliminated. A New York Post article dated July 20, 2008 alleged that Stringer may be billing the taxpayers for some of his campaign travel by chauffeured limousine, an allegation Stringer denied. A March 15, 2009 Daily News article criticized the borough presidents for spending millions of dollars on “pet projects”, including Stringer’s “$2 million to renovate the old High Line trestle and create an immensely popular park – and another $150,000 for a database of senior citizens”.
In July 2009, Stringer’s deputy press secretary resigned under pressure after posting disparaging comments about President Obama on her Facebook page. The incident let theNew York Post to ask: “Why does Stringer need a deputy press secretary” in addition to “a press secretary and a communications director; what the hell do they do for a living?”
Stringer married Elyse Buxbaum on September 3, 2010. The couple chose to receive a marriage license in Connecticut as a statement of solidarity with LGBT couples who had not yet been given the right to marry in New York State.