Scott Stringer could probably win an award for Ultimate New Yorker. Currently the Manhattan borough president, Stringer was born and raised in Washington Heights, attended city public schools, and graduated from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in midtown. Having always lived in the Big Apple, it’s somewhat natural that Stringer has spent his career dedicated to improving the lives of New Yorkers. After 13 years in the New York State Assembly, he was elected Manhattan Borough President in 2006 and is about to embark on a run for New York City Comptroller.
As BP, many of Stringer’s most important initiatives are dedicated to making the borough more affordable and livable. A recent project his office initiated involved a report and conference called Start-Up City, which focused on expanding New York’s entrepreneurial, tech-rich businesses to ensure that jobs in these industries become increasingly accessible. As Stringer explains, “Nothing is more important than having a strong economy, but we have to diversify post-Hurricane [Sandy] and also recognize that Wall Street is not the only engine we have at our disposal.”
Another recent project taking Sandy into account is the East River Blueway Plan, which aims to protect the city from future flooding while also creating a waterfront designed for recreation. Residents are invited to weigh in on the plan, which includes a public beach under the Brooklyn Bridge. In these ways, Stringer has always been an advocate for New York City families, but these days, he says he feels a different sense of urgency. Credit Maxwell Elliot Stringer, age 18 months, his son with wife and fellow longtime Upper West Sider Elyse Buxbaum. As a politician who makes family a personal and professional priority, Stringer’s office has tackled issues such as strengthening the voice of parents in the public school system, managing classroom overcrowding, and initiating the Youth Bucks Project, which subsidizes children’s visits to local farmers’ markets in order to encourage healthy food choices.
“I spent most of my life [not] ever thinking I would have a child,” the 53-year-old Stringer admits, and now his days begin at 6am when his son wakes up calling out for Mom and Dad. He and his wife seem to have their routine down to a science, though, making their son’s breakfast the night before and allowing the spouse with the earlier meeting to get dressed first while the other plays with Max. “I usually take him to daycare,” Stringer adds. With a second child on the way any day (as of press time), the borough president knows that his growing family is about to invite “organized chaos” into their home.
While Stringer points out that having a child often narrows one’s world to the immediate five blocks surrounding their apartment, he also looks forward to experiencing all that New York City has to offer once his children are a little older. “As I travel around the city, I hear 170 languages spoken from 200 countries, and it plays out in all of these neighborhoods,” he says. “It’s just magnificent.”
He describes Max’s daycare center through this prism as well. “Seventeen-month-olds, all sitting around eating their snacks and you see all the diversity of the city: Caucasian, Asian, African American, Caribbean, Latino,” he says. “The kind of diversity they’re understanding is like no other place.”
“We are the cultural mecca for kids,” he continues, speaking on behalf of the city. “So many of the museums and cultural centers have programs geared to children as young as 15 months—and that’s unique to New York.”
For Stringer, New York City is “the center of the universe …the most magical place for kids and adults alike.” His passion for public service seems to be in his DNA. Stringer’s mother was a City Council member, his father worked for Mayor Abraham Beame, and his cousin was former New York Congresswoman Bella Abzug. “I started campaigning for Bella when I was 12 years old and I thought that would change the world—and I’ve thought that for the last forty years,” Stringer says.
Asked whether he’d encourage his own children to take the same path, he emphatically concurs. “If I have my way, yes, I think it’s the most honorable profession. Obviously, [they’ll] have to find [their] own way, but I’m going to do everything possible to expose [them] to the great part of what I do.”
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