Dozens of LGBTQ leaders are lining up behind Brooklyn Councilmember Brad Lander’s campaign for city comptroller, giving him a key boost at a time when City Council Speaker Corey Johnson is also considering a run for the seat.
Queer district leaders, City Council candidates, religious leaders, and even former Johnson staffers are backing Lander, who is unveiling a broad slate of endorsements and rolling out an LGBTQ-focused policy platform outlining how he intends to wield the power of the comptroller’s office to address queer issues.
While Lander announced his campaign more than two years ago, Johnson, who backed out of a run for mayor last year, only recently acknowledged his interest in a run for comptroller. Johnson is scheduled to join other candidates at a Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club’s comptroller forum on March 6.
However, Lander is already absorbing support from some key queer leaders before Johnson officially declares his candidacy.
City Council candidates Crystal Hudson of Brooklyn and Tiffany Cabán of Queens are among 2021 hopefuls backing the campaign, which is also welcoming endorsements from district leaders like John Blasco of Manhattan, who previously served as Johnson’s LGBTQ liaison, and Emilia Decaudin of Queens and Samy Nemir-Olivares of Brooklyn.
Notable figures endorsing Lander also include actor, activist and former gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon and her wife, Christine Marinoni. In a written statement, Nixon said Lander is “uniquely suited to bring a bold, progressive vision to the office and the know-how to get it done.”
“I am excited to endorse Brad for New York City Comptroller,” Nixon said “As the financial shepherd over $228 billion in pension funds, and the city’s chief financial and accountability officer, Brad will use the office to combat climate change, foster a just recovery, and enact smart, thoughtful policies like using land banks and land trusts to ensure equitable development.”
According to Lander’s policy proposal, which was shared with Gay City News, he intends to wield the power of the Comptroller’s office to address queer issues. He would confront discrimination by requiring audits that could identify disparities, publish papers showing healthcare inequalities, and advocate for sex work decriminalization by outlining the state and city costs of criminalizing sex work.
Lander’s policy platform notes that he also plans to audit the NYPD’s Vice Squad, which is known for corruption and harassment of sex workers and transgender individuals, and he said auditing the Administration for Children’s Services would ensure LGBTQ youth are being placed in inclusive homes.
He is also calling for the city to create a fund dedicated to helping small LGBTQ non-profits secure, renovate, and expand their own office and community spaces.
“I’m proud to be a life-long ally and partner to LGBTQ New Yorkers, and grateful for the support of so many leaders whose organizing for liberation and justice continues to inspire me,” said Lander, who represents Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Columbia Waterfront, Gowanus, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Borough Park, and Kensington. “I promise to continue being your partner in addressing the discrimination that leaves LGBTQ individuals, particularly Black trans women, at risk for homelessness, poor health outcomes, and run-ins with the NYPD, and to work towards a city where all are able to flourish as their free and full selves.”
Some individuals backing Lander are pointing to his queer policies as a driving factor behind their decision to endorse him.
“By being the first candidate to draft a comprehensive policy platform, especially one that centers transgender women of color, he shows that he cares about protecting and uplifting LGBTQ New Yorkers,” Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn president Jared Arader said in a written statement. LID endorsed Lander late last year.
Nemir-Olivares cited Lander’s commitment to police accountability in a statement endorsing his campaign.
“Brad has been a real partner and ally in the struggle to end abusive and discriminatory policing, especially against trans women of color,” Nemir-Olivares said. “I know that Brad will be a strong advocate for the rights, safety and dignity of queer New Yorkers, and I’m proud to support him for NYC Comptroller.”
Decaudin played up the experience Lander gained prior to his election to the City Council. Lander formerly served as executive director of the affordable housing-driven non-profit Fifth Avenue Committee.
“Brad not only brings almost 10 years of experience as a progressive champion in the New York City Council, but decades more as an activist urban planner, fighting for affordable housing and conscious development under some of the most hostile mayoral administrations,” Decaudin said.
The collection of endorsements also feature a variety of community leaders, including longtime LGBTQ rights champion Renee Cafiero, activist Jawanza James Williams, and Ana Maria Archila, who is the co-executive director of Make the Road New York. Rabbi Susan Falk and Rabbi Ellen Lippman are among others throwing their support behind Lander.
Lander additionally scored an endorsement from Dan Tietz, whose work includes stints as CEO of Bailey House, a community-based organization supporting people living with HIV/AIDS, and executive director of ACRIA, a national HIV research, education and advocacy group. Jared Trujillo, who has been a dedicated sex work decriminalization advocate, is also on board.
Some others on the LGBTQ endorsement list include Sasha Ahuja, who is Andrew Yang’s co-campaign manager in his bid for mayor; Leila Bozorg, who works for children’s-based non-profit NYC Kids Rise; Carlyn Cowen of the Chinese-American Planning Council; Partnership for the Homeless CEO Áine Duggan; and Jill Harris, who works for the Brooklyn district attorney.
Other candidates vying to succeed term-limited Comptroller Scott Stringer include Brooklyn State Senators Brian Benjamin and Kevin Parker, Assemblymember David Weprin of Queens, and entrepreneur Zach Iscol.
Among already-declared candidates, Lander is leading the way with an estimated $3.5 million in his war chest, according to the city’s Campaign Finance Board. He is followed by Zachary Iscol, who has $1.9 million, and Benjamin, who has $1.8 million. Johnson, meanwhile, has $585,132 on hand following his bid for mayor.
Editor’s Note: This story was amended to reflect that Jared Trujillo, who works for the New York Civil Liberties Union, endorsed Lander in his personal capacity.
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