John Liu and Bill de Blasio won Democratic runoff elections Tuesday for city comptroller and public advocate in an election that attracted little attention even though the positions are citywide posts.
Turnout was about 7 percent to 8 percent in both races, meaning that a relatively small number of the city’s 3 million registered Democrats played an important role in choosing two members of the party’s next class of power players.
The comptroller is the chief financial officer of the city, analyzing the budget, auditing city agencies and overseeing the $80 billion municipal pension system. The public advocate acts as City Hall watchdog and steps in if the mayor cannot serve.
Along with the mayor, they are two of the city’s three citywide elected officials. Their terms run four years.
Both Liu and de Blasio are favored in the Nov. 3 general election against their lesser-known Republican opponents. Joe Mendola, a lawyer who has never held public office, is running for comptroller. Alex Zablocki, an entrepreneur and aide to a state senator from Staten Island, faces de Blasio for public advocate.
If de Blasio and Liu win in November, they will inherit pulpits where they can increase their profiles and push their Democratic agendas.
The Taiwan-born Liu, who would be the city’s first Asian-American elected to citywide office if he were to win, noted how he and his parents "came here with hope and determination."
"There is much at stake for the future of this city," he said.
Liu, whose family emigrated to the U.S. when he was a child, was the City Council’s first Asian-American representative when he was elected in 2001 and has worked as a manager at the global consulting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers.