Bill Thompson (New York politician)

For the New York State Senator and Associate Justice, see William C. Thompson (judge).
Bill Thompson

Democratic Nominee Bill Thompson campaigning on primary day.
42nd New York City Comptroller
In office
January 1, 2002  December 31, 2009
Preceded by Alan Hevesi
Succeeded by John Liu
Personal details
Born William Colridge Thompson, Jr.
(1953-07-10) July 10, 1953
Brooklyn, New York
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Elsie McCabe Thompson
Children Jennifer Thompson
Residence Harlem, New York City
Alma mater Tufts University
Religion Episcopalian

William Colridge "Bill" or "Billy" Thompson, Jr. (born July 10, 1953)[1][2][3] is an American politician who was the 42nd Comptroller of New York City. Sworn into office on January 1, 2002, he was reelected to serve a second term that began on January 1, 2006. He did not seek re-election in 2009, instead running for mayor, and was succeeded as comptroller by John Liu.

Thompson ran unsuccessfully in the 2009 election for Mayor of New York as the nominee of the Democratic and Working Families parties,[4] and unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination in the 2013 election for mayor.[5]

Early life and education

Thompson was born and raised in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn.[1] He is the son of Elaine Thompson, a New York City public-school teacher, and William C. Thompson, Sr., formerly a prominent Brooklyn Democratic Party leader, City Councilman, State Senator and judge on New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division.[6][7] His grandparents immigrated to New York City from St. Kitts in the Caribbean. Thompson attended Midwood High School, a public school in Brooklyn, and graduated from Tufts University in 1974.

Early political career

Upon his graduation from Tufts in 1974 until 1982, Thompson served as special assistant and chief of staff to former Brooklyn Democratic Rep. Fred Richmond, who pleaded guilty to income tax evasion, marijuana possession and making an illegal payment to a government employee and who resigned his seat pursuant to a plea agreement in 1982.[2] Later, Thompson became the youngest Brooklyn Deputy Borough President.[8] As Deputy to Borough President Howard Golden, Thompson was Golden's designee to the New York City Board of Estimate.[7] Following the Crown Heights riots, Thompson worked to fix the racial divide that had paralyzed Brooklyn.[9] In 1993, Thompson moved to the private sector for one year, taking a position as senior vice president of the investment firm George K. Baum & Co.[10]

In 1994, Borough President Golden appointed Thompson to be Brooklyn’s representative to the New York City Board of Education.[11] Two years later, with the backing of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Thompson was elected President of the Board, ousting the incumbent Carol Gresser.[12] As Board of Education President, he worked for a more centralized management of the public school system that eventually led to mayoral control.[13] Thompson also fought for better after-school programs, improved teacher quality, and an expanded arts curriculum.[13]

While serving on the Board of Education, Thompson also supported himself by working as a political consultant, as a director of Keyspan Energy (now National Grid USA) and as a director of a small financial firm run by Michael. W. Geffrard, a former deputy city comptroller.[3] Thompson resigned from the Board of Education in March 2001 to run for the office of Comptroller.[14]

New York City Comptroller (2002-2009)

A 2009 press conference with then comptroller Thompson

As the city’s chief financial officer, he managed a staff of more than 700 professionals with a budget of $68 billion.

Thompson has worked to diversify the pension portfolio from primarily public equities into private equity, real estate and other asset classes. Since 2003, the funds have grown at a pace of 12.33 percent a year, outperforming its actuarial return assumption of 8 percent. In addition, during Thompson’s tenure, assets managed by minority- and women-owned firms have increased from less than $2 billion to over $6 billion.

Thompson has called on American firms in the pension portfolio – including Halliburton, General Electric and Aon – to document the impact of their businesses on the environment.[15] He has insisted that companies doing business in Northern Ireland embrace the goal of equal opportunity in employment and has supported the effort to prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Since Thompson took office, these funds have been reinvested back into New York City, leading to the creation and rehabilitation of more than 20,000 units of affordable housing, the development of thousands of square feet of commercial space, and investments related to creating clean and renewable sources of energy.

In 2003, Thompson led the effort that led to the deposit of $200 million in city funds to establish new bank branches in traditionally underserved neighborhoods, enabling more New Yorkers to open checking accounts and apply for business loans and mortgages. Thompson has developed a number of community service and education programs to help New Yorkers deal with the challenges of the economic crisis. These programs include consumer banking days (regular events that take place in every borough and feature workshops addressing savings and credit issues), predatory lending reforms and general investment strategies.

In a recent lengthy analysis of Thompson's use of the Comptroller's power to audit city government, the on-line journal City Limits opined that "Thompson has not been a ferocious antagonist to Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Instead, he has mostly praised the mayor's budgets, smiled on his economic policies and hailed Bloomberg's accomplishments with the city's schools."[16] Nonetheless, City Limits found, the Comptroller's office and the Bloomberg administration have in fact engaged in hundreds of "low-level skirmishes" over the Comptroller's audits of city agencies and programs, but Thompson has not audited the mayor's office and mayoral agencies as often as his predecessor, Alan Hevesi, did under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.[16] City Limits concluded that "the jury is still out on what impact Thompson's audits have had on city services — and whether his record as an auditor will matter in the comptroller's current run for mayor."[16]

2009 Mayoral election

Thompson in 2009

Thompson was opposed by Tony Avella, a New York City Councilman from Queens, for the Democratic nomination to run in November 2009 against incumbent mayor Michael Bloomberg. On September 15, 2009, Thompson overwhelmingly won the Democratic nomination, defeating Avella by 70 points.[17]

On July 9, 2009, Thompson was endorsed by the Working Families Party.[18]

On July 21, 2009, the Comptroller's office released a report suggesting that the Bloomberg administration had falsely inflated graduation rates in city schools.[19] Thompson's report did not demonstrate any conclusive evidence of manipulation, "saying only that a lack of oversight, coupled with intense pressure to push up the graduation rate, created the potential for abuse."[20] Thompson also criticized Bloomberg's managerial style as creating incentives for schools to graduate unqualified students.[20][21] The New York City Department of Education released a 38-page rebuttal to Thompson's allegations.[20] In addition on July 21, 2009, Thompson said on NY1 that School's Chancellor Joel Klein should be fired, referring to his Department of Education as "The Enron of American education. Showing the gains and hiding the losses.".[22] It was reported that on October 29, 2009 the principal of Lehman High School was being investigated for granting students credits inappropriately and graduating students without them having completed the required course work. Thompson reiterated once again that the mayoral control of schools breeds abuse.[23]

On July 28, 2009, the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute released a poll showing that Thompson has cut Bloomberg's lead from June in half, now only trailing Bloomberg by 10 percentage points, 47% to 37%. The poll also found that Thompson made significant gains among black voters: Thompson now leads Bloomberg 56% to 30% (up 25 points from June); Democrats: Thompson now leads Bloomberg 45% to 42% (up 12 points from June); and Independents: Bloomberg leads Thompson 49% to 27% (70% to 14% in June).[24] Subsequent Quinnipiac polls, however, have shown Bloomberg's lead increase to as much as 16 percentage points, 56%-36%.[25][26]

As of October 6, 2009, Mayor Bloomberg's lead over Thompson had shrunk to 8%.[27]

On November 3, 2009, Thompson was defeated in his campaign for mayor, losing by 4.6% to Mayor Bloomberg, who then served his third consecutive term as Mayor of New York City.[28]

Thompson in 2009

Thompson's 2009 mayoral candidacy had been endorsed by President Barack Obama, Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Andrew Cuomo, Congressmen Anthony Weiner and Charlie Rangel, John Liu, Bill de Blasio, David Yassky, Reverend Al Sharpton, Fernando Ferrer, Ruben Diaz, Jr., former mayor David Dinkins, and several others.[29][30][31]

District Council 37, the city's largest union, endorsed Thompson on August 13, 2009, giving Thompson "crucial labor support" according to the New York Times.[32] The union, representing 125,000 workers and 50,000 retirees, endorsed Bloomberg in 2005. On June 19, 2013, the United Federation of Teachers delegates voted to support Thompson.[33] Other unions that have endorsed Thompson include the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union #3, FDNY-EMS Emergency Medical Technicians, Paramedics and Fire Inspectors Union Local 2507,[34] the FDNY-EMS Officers Union Local 3621,[35] the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU, UFCW), Allied International Union, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1056/1181, Local 891, International Union of Operating Engineers, Civil Service Employees Association Local 1000, Communications Workers of America (CWA) District 1, International Association of Machinists District 15, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 808, Local 94 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, The Associated Musicians of Greater New York, Local 802 AFM, and Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 100.[36]

Inter-mayoral election years (2010-2012)

Soon after his defeat, Thompson was selected by the NYS Governor to head NYC's Battery Park City Authority. In New York City in June 2011, the Battery Park City Authority under Bill Thompson (New York) rejected the donation by Tom Otterness of $750,000 in lion sculptures for the area's new public library, after the sculptures were approved by 5-1 by Manhattan Community Board 1 under Chairperson Julie Menin. A handful of local residents had written to local papers requesting that the art be banned due to a short film by the artist where a stray dog was shot.

In April 2010, Thompson joined the investment banking firm of Siebert Brandford Shank & Co., a lead underwriter of and corporate municipal bonds,[37][38] serving as Chief Administrative Officer and Managing Director. In November 2015, Thompson joined the firm's ownership group as an equity partner. It is now the largest majority- owned African-American, woman and Latino owned investment banking firm in the country, having handled more than $2 trillion in infrastructure financing transactions.[39]

2013 Mayoral election

Thompson announced his intention to run again for mayor as a Democrat in 2013, when the seat will next be up for election.[40] Unlike his 2009 campaign, there was no incumbent in the race in 2013, as New York's term-limits law prohibited Mayor Bloomberg from running for a fourth term. New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch joined his campaign in April, as campaign chairwoman.[41]

According to the New York City Campaign Finance Board's website, as of the March 2013 filing deadline Thompson had raised over $2.7 million in private funds, fourth among registered Democratic contenders, and fifth overall.[42] According to a report in the New York Times, former New York Republican Senator Al D'Amato was Thompson's largest financial backer as of May 2013.[43]

Thompson lost the Democratic primary election for mayoral candidate to Bill de Blasio, coming in second place with 26.2% of the vote.[5]

Personal life

Thompson has gone through two divorces and is currently married to Elsie McCabe Thompson, former President of the Museum for African Art, whom he married in September 2008.[10][44][45] A lifelong Brooklyn resident, Thompson moved to Harlem in September 2008 following his most recent marriage. Thompson is Episcopalian.[46]

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bill Thompson.


  1. 1 2 "William Thompson's Challenges", The Brooklyn Rail, Apr-May 2003
  2. 1 2 "Rudy Choice Called a Can-Do Politician", Daily News, July 9, 1996
  3. 1 2 "Race for Bookkeeper in Chief: Dull but Significant", New York Times, Aug. 25, 2001
  4. "Emboldened, Thompson Presses His Mayoral Bid", New York Times, May 27, 2009
  5. 1 2 "The Mayoral Primaries". The New York Times.
  6. "A Historic Moment, Through One Prominent Brooklyn Family’s Perspective", New York Times, Jan. 17, 2009
  7. 1 2 "Battle at the Board of Education: The Challenger", New York Times, July 9, 1996
  8. "For Comptroller: William Thompson," New York Post, Aug. 31, 2001.
  9. "By the Book," Euromoney, Jan. 2006.
  10. 1 2 "''Cityfile''". Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  11. "School Board Is Undergoing a Reshaping", New York Times, May 25. 1994
  12. "School Board Set to Oust President at Mayor's Urging", New York Times, July 9, 1996
  13. 1 2 "William C. Thompson, Jr.: A First-Class Leader on His Second Term", Education Update Online, Feb. 2006
  14. "Mayoral Politics May Decide Board of Education Presidency", New York Times, Apr. 4, 2001
  15. ""Comptroller Demands Companies Examine Impact on Climate Change," The New York City Comptroller's Office, December 26, 2008". 2014-01-01. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  16. 1 2 3 "Auditor-In-Chief: Has Thompson Effected Change?", City Limits WEEKLY, No. 693, July 13, 2009
  17.  . "POLITICS - All Boroughs". NY1. Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  18. "". Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  19. "Comptroller Audit Questions City Graduation Rates", NY1, July 21, 2009
  20. 1 2 3 "Comptroller Questions Graduation Rate", New York Times, July 21, 2009
  21. Millman, Jennifer (2009-07-24). "It's On: Thompson Slams Bloomberg on Education". NBC New York. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  22.   (2009-07-21). "Comptroller Audit Questions City's Graduation Rates". NY1. Archived from the original on 2009-08-02. Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  23. Phillips, Anna (2009-10-29). "Thompson: Grade tampering shows Bloomberg oversells success". GothamSchools. Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  24. "Course Section | Quinnipiac University Connecticut". Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  25. "Course Section | Quinnipiac University Connecticut". Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  26. "Course Section | Quinnipiac University Connecticut". Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  27. Lisberg, Adam; Katz, Celeste; Einhorn, Erin; Lombardi, Frank; Saul, Michael (October 6, 2009). "New Poll Has Thompson Trailing by Only 8 points". Daily News. New York.
  28. " - Bloomberg Wins Third Term as NYC Mayor". Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  29. Thompson2009 Endorsements Archived July 4, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  30. NY1, "Sharpton Endorses Thompson for Mayor", 7/19/09
  31. Bazinet, Kenneth R.; Katz, Celeste; Saltonstall, David (October 9, 2009). "President Obama endorses Bill Thompson for New York Mayor - while praising Michael Bloomberg's job". Daily News. New York.
  32. Barbaro, Michael (August 13, 2009). "Biggest Union Is Said to Back Bloomberg Rival". The New York Times. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
  33. "UFT endorses Thompson for NYC mayor". WABC TV. Retrieved 20 June 2013.
  34. "Bill Thompson Endorsed by NYC EMS Unions". Archived from the original on 2012-03-03. Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  35. "Uniformed EMS Officers Union". 2013-11-13. Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  36. "". Archived from the original on 2012-02-25. Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  37. "Siebert Brandford Hires Ex-New York Official",The Wall Street Journal, April 7, 2010
  38. "The Closing: William C. Thompson Jr.", The Real Deal, Dec. 30, 2008
  39. Hakim, Danny (January 6, 2010). "Thompson to Run for Mayor in 2013". The New York Times. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
  40. Yochonon Donn, "Hamodia," April 25, 2013, "Big Name in Education Backs Thompson Mayoral Bid"
  41. "NYC Campaign Finance Board, 2013 Citywide Elections".
  42. Halbfinger, David, "D'Amato Puts Money on Democrat in Race for New York Mayor", New York Times, May 16, 2013. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  43. "Controller's Attorney Bashes Both Sides While in Court for Divorce Spat", Daily News, May 1, 2008
  44. "Thompson: Not Taking 'Cheap Shots' At Bloomberg", Daily News, March 26, 2009
  45. New York Times: "In Mayoral Bid, Thompson Hopes Old Ties Attract Jewish Votes By DAVID W. CHEN February 22, 2013
Party political offices
Preceded by
Fernando Ferrer
Democratic Nominee for
Mayor of New York City

Succeeded by
Bill de Blasio
Preceded by
Fernando Ferrer
Working Families Party Nominee for
Mayor of New York City

Succeeded by
Bill de Blasio
Political offices
Preceded by
Alan Hevesi
New York City Comptroller
Succeeded by
John Liu
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