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Black and Republican: John Burnett wants to be NYC comptroller

Cyril Josh Barker | 9/19/2013, 4:57 p.m.
While headlines are occupied with Scott Stringer’s win as the Democratic candidate for city comptroller, few are covering his Republican ...
John Burnett

Meet John Burnett, a 43-year-old African-American male who hails from East New York’s Pink Houses, lives in Harlem and is member of the Harlem chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the nation’s oldest Black Greek-letter organization. He is also the Republican candidate for city comptroller.

Burnett is also running for office on the Conservative Party and School’s Choice line. His background includes a Master of Business Administration from Cornell University and over 20 years in the financial area, including high positions at Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch and Smith Barney, where he worked even before earning his bachelor’s degree.

While he may have the credentials, New York has historically been a Democratic choice when it comes to electing the city’s comptroller. The last time a Republican was elected to the position was in 1938. In an interview with the AmNews this week, Burnett said that his background trumps Stringer’s and his ideas are worth looking at.

“I didn’t envision myself in politics,” Burnett said. “The principals of the Republican Party are about empowerment. When I look at it’s history and what it represents, that’s the party that spoke to me.”

That history, he points out, includes his fraternity brother Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was a Republican, Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln and Dwight D. Eisenhower, who drafted the nation’s Civil Rights Bill.

Burnett said that when it comes to the Black community, he believes that the Republican Party is not getting positive representation in the media. He believes the party is good for Black America in terms of guidance on jobs, real opportunities and wealth creation.

He said, “The Democratic Party is not doing a good job of that. Bill de Blasio is talking about raising

taxes. That’s going to hurt the Black community. With 14 percent unemployment, you can’t raise taxes to improve things.”

Issues that matter to him when it comes to the city’s finances include pension funds, relieving the tax burden, Black-and Latino-owned businesses and transparency in government. He said Stringer brings with him years of the same thing with little improvement. Burnett also added that his own experience on Wall Street makes him the better candidate.

“Scott Stringer is a career politician, and he’s never held a job outside of government,” Burnett said. “He doesn’t bring any ideas. He failed at running a bar and couldn’t even sell beer and wings in a city of millions.”