By Seo Hee Im
PUBLISHED OCTOBER 26, 2007
Even as he made light of possible plans to run for mayor in 2009, Comptroller William Thompson invited New York City college journalists to his office for a briefing and question and answer session on Thursday.
His press detail tried to make his gray conference room inviting with some donuts and coffee, and after prepared remarks about his accomplishments—recent reports on violence in schools, affordable housing for teachers, and health disparities—he welcomed questions from the student journalists.
Students lobbed questions about the MTA’s potential fare hike, the expansion of universities like NYU and Columbia, and immigration to New York City. Thompson’s answers were carefully worded and mostly non-controversial.
Concerning Columbia’s expansion into Manhattanville, Thompson showed cautious support, stating that while universities are vital for a city, expansion should be done in conjunction with the local population. He approved of the recent proposal by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer to establish a special zoning district in West Harlem
“I still think there is a way to go,” he said carefully, about plans for Manhattanville. “I think it’s not done yet.”
Feigning astonishment when he was asked whether the event was held in anticipation of a 2009 run for mayor, he said, “someone told you I’m running for mayor? Who told you that? No, no, I’m kidding.”
Local press and political strategists are already envisioning Thompson in the field for mayor. Doug Muzzio, a public affairs professor at Baruch College said if he ran, he’d be “clearly in the top tier of candidates, probably the front-runner.”
There were moments when Thompson almost sounded like he was on the campaign trail. He called himself a “tough and fair critic” of the mayor and described how he “pounded” the schools chancellor, Joel Klein at a recent meeting.
“As a Comptroller, there’s a certain statutory authority, but then again, as New York City’s second highest elective official behind the mayor, we’ll get involved in anything,” he said.
The last question of the afternoon—where in the city he likes to go to relax—was a softball, but Thompson punted it.
“I don’t know if there is one. It’s a fun city. The thing about NYC is I don’t know if there’s just one place to go.”