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Comptroller John Liu Formally Launches Bid For Mayor

John Liu

City Comptroller John Liu announces his bid for mayor, March 17, 2013. (Credit: Jim Smith/WCBS 880)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP)New York City Comptroller John Liu officially tossed his hat into the ring for mayor of the city of New York Sunday.

Liu made the announcement Sunday afternoon on the steps of City Hall. He has long been expected to run for mayor.

In his announcement, he talked about the opportunity afforded to his Taiwanese-immigrant family, who all came to New York when he was 5 years old.

“My parents truly believed in that promise–that an immigrant family named Liu could work their way up to become like a family named Kennedy,” he said. “That’s why they named me John—and if you don’t believe me—feel free to ask my brothers Robert and Edward.”

His parents worked hard and paid their dues to get ahead, and they were successful he said.

“And New York kept its part of the promise too—because if we didn’t quite rival the Kennedys, a New York City public school kid like me was able to make it all the way to New York City Comptroller,” he said. “Promise kept.”

But Liu said the New York that provided opportunities for all has “gone the way of Checkered Cabs and 50-cent slices,” and without mentioning Mayor Michael Bloomberg by name, he said the current mayor’s policies are to blame.

“In New York these last twelve years, the rich keep getting filthy rich while far too many New Yorkers can’t even think to get ahead, because they’re just trying to get by,” Liu said. “The simple fact is, that a guy working on a Wall Street trading desk has a far greater shot of climbing into the one per cent, than a hard-working single mother has to climb above the poverty line.

“There’s an old Chinese story—where a struggling town begs the emperor to send relief—and the emperor tells them to tighten their belts. The town replies: send belts,” he continued. “Well the imperial edicts coming out of City Hall have been pretty much the same.”

Liu talked about his efforts as a City Councilman, and later as Comptroller, going after corruption and mismanagement in city government.

“As mayor—I’ll do what I’ve always done—as a Councilmember and as Comptroller—stand up to every powerful person or entrenched interest who’s standing in the way of what’s right,” he said.

He also spoke of a need for unity in New York City, where the privileged and disadvantaged alike are given a fair shot at economic success, good schools, affordable housing, and safe neighborhoods, and where people “don’t have to worry about being stopped and frisked because you happen to be the wrong color.”

“With your help, I’ll be a mayor who fights not only for every borough—but for every block in every neighborhood,” he said.

Liu promised to be a financial watchdog, while blurring the lines between rich and poor, WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported.

He called for a New York that would be “one city, where we take care of the needy and take on the greedy.”

Liu also spent Sunday making stops in all five boroughs to meet with potential voters, according to a release.

If elected, Liu would become the first Asian-American to hold the city’s highest seat.

He is already the first person of Asian descent to be elected citywide in New York, and his mayoral ambitions illuminate the political rise of the city’s Asian-American population.

But his aspiration has been shadowed by a fundraising-conspiracy case against two former aides. They have pleaded not guilty, and Liu hasn’t been charged with any wrongdoing.

Liu worked as an actuary before winning a City Council seat in 2002 and the comptroller’s race in 2009.

Several other candidates also are seeking to succeed Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Last Sunday City Council Speaker Christine Quinn formally announced her candidacy for mayor in a video posted to her Twitter account, followed by the start of a walking tour of all five boroughs.

Other Democratic candidates for mayor include New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, former City Councilman Sal Albanese; and former Comptroller Bill Thompson.

Republican contenders include former Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joseph Lhota; Tom Allon, a publisher; billionaire businessman John Catsimatidis; and George McDonald, the head of a nonprofit that helps the homeless.

Former Bronx borough president and federal housing official Adolfo Carrion, a former Democrat who is now unaffiliated, is running on the Independence Party line and seeking Republican backing.

On Saturday, Liu also encouraged disgraced former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner to run for mayor, following revelations that Weiner has been spending what were once his campaign funds on polling and campaign research.

“That’s a lot of money to spend on polls. I think Anthony should be there. I think he should run. Just stop texting,” he said.

A sexting scandal forced Weiner to resign from office nearly two years ago.

Would you support Liu for mayor? Sound off in the comments section below…

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)