Choosing its first favorite for a citywide race, the United Federation of Teachers will endorse John Liu for comptroller today at noon.
A recent poll shows comptroller candidate Melinda Katz has a modest lead over Liu, her main rival, though the four-way race remains tight, making union endorsements particularly important.
In a phone interview this morning, UFT president Michael Mulgrew said that Liu had impressed the teachers union with his work on the City Council’s Education Committee.
“He went out of the way to make sure he did his homework. He really knew all of the subjects,” Mulgrew said. “His homework that he would do on the city contracts was quite impressive — that he would know all the internal pieces and got into them, and the questioning of the no bid contracts.”
Mulgrew added that Liu’s business background and his work as chair of the Council’s Transportation Committee — he has frequently criticized the Department of Education’s re-writing of the school bus routes in 2007 — had been an additional draw.
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“John Liu has always proved to be very independent,” Mulgrew said. “I believe that John will be someone who makes sure that the laws are implemented the way they were designed to be — strongly.”
Under the new school governance law passed this summer, the DOE now has to register all of its contracts with the comptroller’s office. The comptroller will also have greater authority to audit the department. Previously, the DOE had taken advantage of a legal gray area concerning whether it is a state or city agency, allowing it to dodge much of the contract oversight other city agencies are subject to.
The most recent data released by the New York City Campaign Finance Board shows that the UFT has given Liu and Katz similar amounts of money, suggesting that it was deliberating between the two. Yesterday, Liu picked up an endorsement from the United Firefighters Association.
The UFT has yet to endorse a candidate for mayor. The union’s endorsements are listed here.