A familiar face is joining the race for city comptroller.

After weeks of flirting with the idea, Corey Johnson officially declared his candidacy to become the city’s chief financial officer.

What You Need To Know

  • The speaker of the city council is entering the crowded race for comptroller
  • He already has hundreds of thousands of dollars in a campaign account to use for his run
  • Johnson backed out of the mayor's race late last year, citing his battle with depression

“My name is Corey Johnson and I am running to be the next comptroller of New York City and I have one mission - to better the lives of New Yorkers,” Johnson said on Tuesday.

He announced his candidacy in Madison Square Park and then visited a local diner with reporters. Johnson infuses the citywide race with star power —one that up until now has not received much attention. Johnson could bring more.

Right out of the gate, the speaker unveiled some high profile endorsements, including council members Helen Rosenthal, Vanessa Gibson and Mark Treyger. He was also endorsed by the Hotel Trades Council - the city's massive hotel workers union.

That said, Johnson is already facing some tough questions.

For one, just a few months ago he dropped out of the mayor’s race citing a personal battle with depression. The COVID-19 crisis affected him deeply, he says. Johnson is HIV-positive and is in a group that is considered more at-risk for the virus.

Some question why he is seeking the lesser-known office of comptroller now.

“Anyone who knows the powers of the comptroller office and knows how important it is for our recovery knows this is not a consolation prize” Johnson said. "It's a really important job."

While some of his rivals have welcomed him to the race.

“We’re going to have a spirited debate and conversation on what the future of New York City should look like and who should be the comptroller responsible for the $240 billion pension funds,” said Harlem State Senator Brian Benjamin, who is also running for the post.

Others were already pouncing on that premise.

“We need somebody who doesn't see the comptroller’s spot that they are taking as a consolation prize because they actually wanted to run for mayor,” said Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, a former television journalist.

Councilman Brad Lander piled on — albeit subtly.

“We need leaders who showed up for our city during its time of crisis and who have the vision and experience to secure a recovery for all of us and that’s what I am focused on,” Lander said.

Johnson says he wants to help lead New York City out of this crisis. He still has a desire to serve.

“I have refused to let my most challenging moments define me,” he said on Tuesday. "I think that’s something we can all relate too. And we are all in a challenging, challenging moment right now."