Corey Johnson Floats Run for Comptroller

Out gay City Council Speaker Corey Johnson is looking at a run for comptroller.
JOHN MCCARTEN/ NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL

Out gay City Council Speaker Corey Johnson is considering a run for city comptroller, he told the New York Times.

Johnson, who in the midst of his second and final term in the City Council, is exploring a run to serve as the city’s chief financial officer nearly five months after he exited the mayoral race due to personal reasons. He is vowing to make a final decision on the comptroller race within the next two weeks.

Johnson said several elected officials — including city lawmakers — told him to look into a run for comptroller, according to the Times. Johnson represents the City Council’s District Three, which includes Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, Greenwich Village, West SoHo, Hudson Square, Times Square, Garment District, Flatiron, and the Upper West Side.

City Comptroller Scott Stringer, a mayoral candidate, is term-limited, paving the way for a wide-open race to replace him. Other candidates in the race for comptroller include Councilmember Brad Lander of Brooklyn, State Senators Kevin Parker of Brooklyn and Brian Benjamin of Manhattan, State Assemblymember David Weprin of Queens, and Michelle Caruso-Cabrera — who mounted an unsuccessful primary challenge against Bronx and Queens Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez last year.

“I wouldn’t be considering this if I didn’t feel good about where I am personally and the work I’ve done over the last six months in focusing on myself and my own well-being,” Johnson told the Times.

The Democratic primary for comptroller is on June 22, leaving Johnson with a four-month window to make a citywide pitch for his candidacy. Johnson still has a war chest consisting of $585,132, according to the Campaign Finance Board, following an exploratory bid for mayor during which he committed to limiting contributions to $250 per person and sought to avoid donations from lobbyists, corporate PACs, or real estate developers and their employees.

“I haven’t made a final decision yet — I have to continue to talk to my family, but I am considering it because I love this city,” Johnson told the Times. “I think the next comptroller needs to be someone who will ensure that our recovery is one where we are making sure that all the money we’re spending is spent appropriately, and I feel like I’ve done that as speaker.”

The 38-year-old speaker took criticism last year when the City Council passed a budget that failed to meet the expectations of activists who sought a significant reduction in police funding. He will again face a test this year when he oversees a City Council budget for the final time as speaker.

Johnson, the first out gay man to serve as speaker, spearheaded legislation allowing New Yorkers to change the gender marker on their birth certificates and has stood in support of several queer initiatives, but his record on LGBTQ issues is mixed. While he supported the legislation that passed earlier this month repealing a discriminatory loitering law known as a ban on “walking while trans,” he faced heat from the LGBTQ community in 2019 due to his opposition to full sex work decriminalization. Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), VOCAL-NY, Make the Road New York, and DecrimNY were among the groups that publicly chided the speaker for his stance on that issue.

To sign up for the Gay City News email newsletter, visit gaycitynews.com/newsletter.

More from Around NYC