John Liu: I wanted to be mayor ‘from the moment I got elected comptroller’

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Liu at City Hall. (Azi Paybarah via flickr)
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John Liu, unlike most other politicians, is willing to call a springboard a springboard.

Asked when he decided to pursue the job of mayor, he said, "Probably from the moment I got elected comptroller."

He was sitting in the back of media-dedicated minivan on Sunday near the tail end of his 14-hour kickoff campaign tour of the city.

In his prepared speeches, Liu said that his time as comptroller helped him see more clearly that New York City needed new leadership.

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After Liu said, in response to a question from the Observer's Colin Campbell, that he has wanted to run for mayor since becoming comptroller, he said, "I'm going to get quoted for that and I'm going to be tagged as the only one who sees comptroller as a stepping stone."

"Maybe I need to hold my tongue more," Liu said a little later. "I just said 'from the moment I got elected.' How many other comptrollers or public advocate or borough presidents [would admit that]? That they're thinking about running for mayor the second they get elected to their position?"

I asked Liu if his mayoral aspirations have affected the way he has done his current job.

"Absolutely not," he said. "I don't have a direct hand in my audits. They're run by professional auditors. I'm not an auditor. Just like I don't insert my hand in our investments, into our contract reviews. I have no idea what to look for in a contract."

Jill Colvin of DNAinfo followed up by noting that Liu still takes credit for what those auditors and contract reviewers reveal.

"Of course," Liu said. "Because I put them in place and I'm proud of them and I gave them the resources. I don't tell them what to uncover."