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Liu wants education, development reform

City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) said he plans to implement reforms to the city comptroller’s office within his first six months in office should he defeat Republican Joseph Mendola in the Nov. 3 election.

Liu, first elected to the Council in 2001, defeated Councilman David Yassky (D-Brooklyn) in the Sept. 29 runoff election for the Democratic slot in this fall’s comptroller race. Liu took 55.6 percent of the vote, while Yassky received 44.4 percent.

On Nov. 3, he will face Mendola, a Manhattan Republican who works for registered broker dealer Magna Securities Corp.

“I’m going to spend the next four weeks talking about the important issues — the economic slump we have to get out of, leveling the playing field for minority businesses and small upcoming businesses with an emphasis on creating jobs for people living in the city and eliminating waste from the city budget, which has a looming $5 billion gap that needs to be filled in the next nine months,” Liu said in an interview at the TimesLedger Newspapers offices.

City Comptroller William Thompson has opted to run against Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent, in the upcoming mayoral race.

As comptroller, Liu said he would quickly begin pushing his agenda for the office and making any necessary changes.

“I’d review the entire office and make sure everybody is properly matched with their own skills to the responsibilities with which they are charged,” he said. “There are budgetary reforms I’d implement to eliminate ongoing waste. I’d raise the professionalism of pension investment and bond underwriting. I’d overhaul the city’s procurement process. I want to see tangible results within the first six months.”

He listed several city agencies he would move quickly to reform, including the Economic Development Corp., Department of Education and Industrial Development Agency.

“Between the EDC and the IDA, a lot of substantial giveaways go to corporations and developers and there is not always a clear benefit to the taxpayers,” he said.

Liu said he would give Bloomberg “credit where it’s due,” but supports Thompson for mayor. He said he would be more aggressive than past city comptrollers.

“I think overall the comptroller’s office could be far more proactive on a host of different issues, such as economic development and due process in municipal government,” he said.

The city saw a rise in Asian Americans at the polls during the Sept. 15 primary, resulting in a number of Queens candidates taking the Democratic slot, including Liu, who later defeated Yassky in the runoff election, and Kevin Kim, a Korean American who defeated his five opponents in the Council District 19 race in northeastern Queens.

Liu said he believes an increase in political activity by the city’s Asian-American voters will lead to a city government that is “more representative.”

“Every community reaches a certain stage of political maturity,” he said. “It’s a great sign that Asian-American voters turned out in great numbers. Having new voices in a legislative body, such as the City Council, is good not only for the community that is gaining the new voices but the city as a whole.”

Liu formerly worked as an actuary with PricewaterhouseCoopers — experience he touted in his bid to capture the top financial post in the city. He also served as the Council Transportation Committee chairman for the last several years.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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