Comptroller: Three Approaches

August 06, 1991

Mary W. Conaway, Jacqueline F. McLean and Joseph T. "Jody" Landers III are aggressively seeking endorsements from political organizations on the theory that tickets will affect the outcome of the city comptroller's race more than credentials. Yet each of these Democratic candidates brings into the race a distinctly different background and understanding of the $53,000-a-year office.

Those views are particularly important because whoever succeeds the redoubtable Hyman A. Pressman, who is retiring after 28 years as city comptroller, can remold the No. 3 office in municipal government. The comptroller not only oversees city audits, real estate and insurance policies but also sits on the five-member Board of Estimates, which runs the city.

Councilman Landers, a part-time real estate agent, would turn annual audits of various city agencies into performance audits. "In order to stretch our limited resources we need to know how well agencies are performing -- what is the quantity, and even more importantly, the quality of the services being delivered," he says.

He would also look at the use of all city-owned properties and order changes. He contends many properties are not used to their full potential: "We are sitting on a tremendous amount of wealth and assets and not doing anything about it."

Councilwoman McLean, a travel agency owner, envisions the NTC comptroller's office "running like a business." She wants "more open and direct communication with business and and community leaders. Educating the public will be a thrust so that they have a crucial understanding, from a financial perspective, of many of the difficult decisions that have to be made by city government."

Mary W. Conaway, an ordained minister who is the city's register of wills, would "re-evaluate and re-organize the entire office in terms of its responsiveness to the concerns of all people, not just a few select entrepreneurs." She says she would work as a "partner" with the mayor and City Council, promoting economic development.

Because of their council experience, Mrs. McLean and Mr. Landers exhibit a thorough knowledge of the functions of the comptroller's office. Mrs. Conaway shows less familiarity. (She points out that when she was first elected the register of wills, she knew little of that job, either).

The comptroller's job is too important to be left for political bosses and ticket-builders to decide. We urge all voters to study the candidates and their positions and make sure they are registered to vote in the Sept. 12 primary by next Monday's deadline.

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