Gotham Gazette Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more. http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/elections 2018-02-21T01:00:29+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com 11 Special Elections Set for April 24 2018-02-18T05:00:00+00:00 2018-02-18T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7483:the-11-special-elections-set-for-april-24 Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/cuomo_voting_grimace.jpg" alt="cuomo voting grimace" width="600" height="422" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo voting (photo via The Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Governor Andrew Cuomo has officially called a special election to fill 11 vacant seats in the Legislature — two in the Senate and nine in the Assembly — for April 24. Of these, four vacancies are located within the five boroughs of New York City. The short races are quickly heating up to replace three former city-based state legislators who have joined the City Council -- former Assembly members Francisco Moya and Mark Gjonaj and former Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. -- and another lawmaker, Brian Kavanagh, who left the Assembly for the Senate.</p> <p>While all of these seats are likely to remain in Democratic hands, the other Senate special election is in a key Westchester swing district where party control of the upper chamber -- Republicans’ last stronghold of power at the state level -- is at play. There, Senate district 37, Democrat George Latimer left a vacancy when he was elected Westchester County Executive in November.</p> <p>The governor had faced pressure from Democrats to call the special elections on January 1, the earliest possible date, which would have meant March elections and winners in place to represent their districts in final budget negotiations -- a new state budget is due by April 1. But, Cuomo decided to wait, saying he did not want to inject politics into the budget process, and called the specials so they would occur in April. Winners will be seated in the Legislature in time for negotiations during the final weeks of the legislative session that ends in June.</p> <p>The backdrop also features a tentative reunification deal between the Senate’s breakaway Democratic faction known as the IDC and their mainline peers -- which is only on the table if Democrats regain the requisite 32 seats to retake the majority in the 63-seat chamber before the end of the 2018 session. Winning the two Senate seats is essential, and a great deal of focus will be on the Westchester race. The IDC, which forms a ruling coalition with the Senate GOP, includes eight members, while the mainline Democratic conference currently features 21 members, and one nominal Democrat, Senator Simcha Felder, caucuses with Republicans.</p> <p>In New York, special elections do not include typical primaries, with party nominees picked by party officials rather than the larger voting pool. In the city’s deep blue districts, this often means that the Democratic nominee is virtually handed the seat. Upstate, a number of GOP-held seats are likely to remain safely Republican.</p> <p>A closer look at where things stand in each of the 11 legislative vacancies home to special elections April 24 -- party candidate nominations <a href="http://www.vote.nyc.ny.us/downloads/pdf/documents/boe/DatesToRemember/2018/2018SpecialElectionCalendar.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">must be set</a> with the Board of Elections by February 26.</p> <p><strong>SENATE</strong></p> <p><strong>Senate District 37 - Westchester</strong><br />Since Latimer won the Westchester County Executive contest in November, unseating two-term GOP County Executive Rob Astorino, the race is heating up to fill his vacant 37th Senate District seat.</p> <p>Assemblymember Shelley Mayer was chosen as the Democratic nominee for the seat -- beating out teacher and activist Kat Brezler -- in a mini-convention held by county Democratic leaders in January. Former Rye Councilmember Julie Killian, who lost a Senate race to Latimer in 2016, secured the GOP nomination in early February over former Yonkers Inspector General Dan Schorr. Republican candidate Sarmad Khojasteh had previously dropped out of the race to endorse Killian.</p> <p>While Democrats have a two-to-one enrollment advantage in Westchester, the district has become a battleground in recent years. If Mayer is elected, the 90th Assembly District will be left vacant and without representation until the November 2018 election.</p> <p><strong>Senate District 32 - The Bronx</strong><br />This Senate seat became available when Diaz Sr. won the election for New York City Council’s District 18, which was left vacant by term-limited Annabel Palma.</p> <p>Diaz Sr., a conservative Democrat who had served the Senate’s 32nd District since 2002, easily beat several third-party candidates in the general election after a more competitive primary. Assemblymember Luis Sepulveda, a Democrat, formally declared his candidacy for the Senate seat in December and is expected to be Diaz Sr.’s successor in the overwhelmingly Democratic district. This would leave a vacancy in the 76th Assembly District.</p> <p><strong>ASSEMBLY</strong></p> <p><strong>Assembly District 39 - Queens</strong><br />This position was vacated by former Assemblymember Francisco Moya, who was elected to the City Council District 21 seat in November. Moya replaced Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, who decided not to run for re-election. Candidates running for Moya’s seat include Catalina Cruz, the former chief of staff for Ferreras-Copeland, and Aridia Espinal, a former Moya staffer and district leader, who has Moya’s endorsement.</p> <p>Cruz has criticized the nature of special elections in New York. “Unfortunately, the special election process for the state Assembly does not allow for Democratic primary voters to decide who represents them on the Democratic Party ballot line,” Cruz said in a statement.</p> <p><strong>Assembly District 74 - Manhattan </strong><br />The 74th State Assembly seat was vacated by Brian Kavanagh when selected by Democratic Committee leaders last fall to replace Dan Squadron in the State Senate. Democrat Harvey Epstein, scooping up endorsements from a slew of City Council members, Public Advocate Letitia James, Comptroller Scott Stringer, and other Democratic power players, handily won the Democratic nod over Mike Corbett, an aide to City Council Member Costa Constantinides and president emeritus of the New York State Young Democrats, on February 12.</p> <p>The New York Republican County Executive Committee unanimously endorsed Bryan Cooper for race.</p> <p><strong>Assembly District 80 - The Bronx</strong><br />This seat was held by former Assemblymember Mark Gjonaj, who was elected to the City Council’s 13th District, replacing term-limited James Vacca last year.</p> <p>Gjonai’s former chief of staff Nathalia Fernandez received the Democratic nomination for the Assembly’s 80th District on Thursday, paving the way for her to take the seat in April.</p> <p>“Our district deserves an Assembly Member who has the experience to get things done. &nbsp;My deep roots in the community and my experience has prepared me to be an effective representative on day one,” said Fernandez, who has the backing of her former boss.</p> <p>Fernandez said her priorities will include improving quality of life in the district, increasing education funding in the state budget, supporting small businesses, and improving public transportation. The district includes Morris Park, Pelham Parkway, and Norwood, among other Bronx neighborhoods.</p> <p><strong>Assembly District 5 - Suffolk County </strong><br />This Suffolk County seat was vacated by Republican Assemblymember Al Graf, who won his bid for district court judge in Islip in November. Graf represented the 8th District, which includes Holbrook and Stony Brook, since 2010. Like much of Suffolk County, this district is a toss up between Democrats and Republicans -- though the GOP maintains a slight advantage.</p> <p>Doug Smith, a 27-year-old former aide to Graf, has secured the Republican nomination, while Democrats are searching for a new nominee after union leader Peter Zarcon received the Democratic nod, but pulled out of the race Wednesday citing “personal family concerns.”</p> <p><a href="https://www.newsday.com/long-island/politics/peter-zarcone-assembly-new-york-1.16768570" target="_blank" rel="noopener">According to Newsday</a>, Democratic leaders say they are now interviewing Deborah Slinowsky, a former school board member who works in the Suffolk County Department of Social Services, and Jenn Hann, a legislative aide.</p> <p><strong>Assembly District 102 &nbsp;- Greene County</strong><br />Former Republican Assemblymember Pete Lopez stepped down from his Assembly position to become a Region 2 Administrator at the United States Environmental Protection Agency in October. Schoharie Town Supervisor Christopher Tague has secured the Republican nod, beating out former Ulster County Legislature candidate Santos Lopez, while Aidan O’Connor Jr., a member of the Greene County Legislature, is the Democratic nominee. The district encompasses parts of four counties -- Albany Columbia, Greene, and Schoharie -- and has a slight Republican advantage.</p> <p><strong>Assembly 17th District - Nassau County </strong><br />Former Assemblymember Thomas McKevitt, a Republican, stepped down for a seat on the Nassau County Legislature. No candidates have yet emerged. The district has a GOP advantage.</p> <p><strong>Assembly 142nd District - Buffalo Region</strong><br />Michael Kearns, a Democrat who ran on the GOP line, narrowly defeated Democratic candidate and former radio host Steve Cichon, a lifelong Republican, for Erie County Clerk in the fall. While the majority of the district is Democratic, party affiliation can be complicated in Buffalo.</p> <p>Erie County Legislator Patrick Burke has nabbed the Democratic nomination for this vacant seat, while the Republicans <a href="http://buffalonews.com/2018/02/13/gop-taps-democrat-bohen-for-assembly-special-election/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">have picked</a> a Democrat, Erik T. Bohen, as their candidate in the special election to replace Kearns.</p> <p>The district includes parts of South Buffalo, Lackawanna, Seneca, and Orchard Park.</p> <p><strong>Assembly District 10 - Suffolk County </strong><br />Former Republican Assemblymember Chad Lupinacci left this seat to take over as supervisor of Huntington, a seat held by Frank Petrone for 24 years. The 10th District of the Assembly, which includes large portions of Suffolk County, has a Democratic advantage.</p> <p><strong>Assembly District 107 - Rensselaer, Albany, Columbia</strong><br />No candidates have emerged yet for the seat of former Assemblymember Steve McLaughlin, a Republican who left the Assembly after winning the race for Rensselaer County executive, but five Democrats and two Republicans <a href="https://www.timesunion.com/news/article/Republicans-and-Democrats-selecting-candidates-12610943.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener">have reportedly</a> been interviewed by respective party leaders.</p> <p>The district is evenly split between Democrats and Republicans.</p> <p>

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by Rachel Silberstein, State government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/cuomo_voting_grimace.jpg" alt="cuomo voting grimace" width="600" height="422" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo voting (photo via The Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Governor Andrew Cuomo has officially called a special election to fill 11 vacant seats in the Legislature — two in the Senate and nine in the Assembly — for April 24. Of these, four vacancies are located within the five boroughs of New York City. The short races are quickly heating up to replace three former city-based state legislators who have joined the City Council -- former Assembly members Francisco Moya and Mark Gjonaj and former Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. -- and another lawmaker, Brian Kavanagh, who left the Assembly for the Senate.</p> <p>While all of these seats are likely to remain in Democratic hands, the other Senate special election is in a key Westchester swing district where party control of the upper chamber -- Republicans’ last stronghold of power at the state level -- is at play. There, Senate district 37, Democrat George Latimer left a vacancy when he was elected Westchester County Executive in November.</p> <p>The governor had faced pressure from Democrats to call the special elections on January 1, the earliest possible date, which would have meant March elections and winners in place to represent their districts in final budget negotiations -- a new state budget is due by April 1. But, Cuomo decided to wait, saying he did not want to inject politics into the budget process, and called the specials so they would occur in April. Winners will be seated in the Legislature in time for negotiations during the final weeks of the legislative session that ends in June.</p> <p>The backdrop also features a tentative reunification deal between the Senate’s breakaway Democratic faction known as the IDC and their mainline peers -- which is only on the table if Democrats regain the requisite 32 seats to retake the majority in the 63-seat chamber before the end of the 2018 session. Winning the two Senate seats is essential, and a great deal of focus will be on the Westchester race. The IDC, which forms a ruling coalition with the Senate GOP, includes eight members, while the mainline Democratic conference currently features 21 members, and one nominal Democrat, Senator Simcha Felder, caucuses with Republicans.</p> <p>In New York, special elections do not include typical primaries, with party nominees picked by party officials rather than the larger voting pool. In the city’s deep blue districts, this often means that the Democratic nominee is virtually handed the seat. Upstate, a number of GOP-held seats are likely to remain safely Republican.</p> <p>A closer look at where things stand in each of the 11 legislative vacancies home to special elections April 24 -- party candidate nominations <a href="http://www.vote.nyc.ny.us/downloads/pdf/documents/boe/DatesToRemember/2018/2018SpecialElectionCalendar.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">must be set</a> with the Board of Elections by February 26.</p> <p><strong>SENATE</strong></p> <p><strong>Senate District 37 - Westchester</strong><br />Since Latimer won the Westchester County Executive contest in November, unseating two-term GOP County Executive Rob Astorino, the race is heating up to fill his vacant 37th Senate District seat.</p> <p>Assemblymember Shelley Mayer was chosen as the Democratic nominee for the seat -- beating out teacher and activist Kat Brezler -- in a mini-convention held by county Democratic leaders in January. Former Rye Councilmember Julie Killian, who lost a Senate race to Latimer in 2016, secured the GOP nomination in early February over former Yonkers Inspector General Dan Schorr. Republican candidate Sarmad Khojasteh had previously dropped out of the race to endorse Killian.</p> <p>While Democrats have a two-to-one enrollment advantage in Westchester, the district has become a battleground in recent years. If Mayer is elected, the 90th Assembly District will be left vacant and without representation until the November 2018 election.</p> <p><strong>Senate District 32 - The Bronx</strong><br />This Senate seat became available when Diaz Sr. won the election for New York City Council’s District 18, which was left vacant by term-limited Annabel Palma.</p> <p>Diaz Sr., a conservative Democrat who had served the Senate’s 32nd District since 2002, easily beat several third-party candidates in the general election after a more competitive primary. Assemblymember Luis Sepulveda, a Democrat, formally declared his candidacy for the Senate seat in December and is expected to be Diaz Sr.’s successor in the overwhelmingly Democratic district. This would leave a vacancy in the 76th Assembly District.</p> <p><strong>ASSEMBLY</strong></p> <p><strong>Assembly District 39 - Queens</strong><br />This position was vacated by former Assemblymember Francisco Moya, who was elected to the City Council District 21 seat in November. Moya replaced Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, who decided not to run for re-election. Candidates running for Moya’s seat include Catalina Cruz, the former chief of staff for Ferreras-Copeland, and Aridia Espinal, a former Moya staffer and district leader, who has Moya’s endorsement.</p> <p>Cruz has criticized the nature of special elections in New York. “Unfortunately, the special election process for the state Assembly does not allow for Democratic primary voters to decide who represents them on the Democratic Party ballot line,” Cruz said in a statement.</p> <p><strong>Assembly District 74 - Manhattan </strong><br />The 74th State Assembly seat was vacated by Brian Kavanagh when selected by Democratic Committee leaders last fall to replace Dan Squadron in the State Senate. Democrat Harvey Epstein, scooping up endorsements from a slew of City Council members, Public Advocate Letitia James, Comptroller Scott Stringer, and other Democratic power players, handily won the Democratic nod over Mike Corbett, an aide to City Council Member Costa Constantinides and president emeritus of the New York State Young Democrats, on February 12.</p> <p>The New York Republican County Executive Committee unanimously endorsed Bryan Cooper for race.</p> <p><strong>Assembly District 80 - The Bronx</strong><br />This seat was held by former Assemblymember Mark Gjonaj, who was elected to the City Council’s 13th District, replacing term-limited James Vacca last year.</p> <p>Gjonai’s former chief of staff Nathalia Fernandez received the Democratic nomination for the Assembly’s 80th District on Thursday, paving the way for her to take the seat in April.</p> <p>“Our district deserves an Assembly Member who has the experience to get things done. &nbsp;My deep roots in the community and my experience has prepared me to be an effective representative on day one,” said Fernandez, who has the backing of her former boss.</p> <p>Fernandez said her priorities will include improving quality of life in the district, increasing education funding in the state budget, supporting small businesses, and improving public transportation. The district includes Morris Park, Pelham Parkway, and Norwood, among other Bronx neighborhoods.</p> <p><strong>Assembly District 5 - Suffolk County </strong><br />This Suffolk County seat was vacated by Republican Assemblymember Al Graf, who won his bid for district court judge in Islip in November. Graf represented the 8th District, which includes Holbrook and Stony Brook, since 2010. Like much of Suffolk County, this district is a toss up between Democrats and Republicans -- though the GOP maintains a slight advantage.</p> <p>Doug Smith, a 27-year-old former aide to Graf, has secured the Republican nomination, while Democrats are searching for a new nominee after union leader Peter Zarcon received the Democratic nod, but pulled out of the race Wednesday citing “personal family concerns.”</p> <p><a href="https://www.newsday.com/long-island/politics/peter-zarcone-assembly-new-york-1.16768570" target="_blank" rel="noopener">According to Newsday</a>, Democratic leaders say they are now interviewing Deborah Slinowsky, a former school board member who works in the Suffolk County Department of Social Services, and Jenn Hann, a legislative aide.</p> <p><strong>Assembly District 102 &nbsp;- Greene County</strong><br />Former Republican Assemblymember Pete Lopez stepped down from his Assembly position to become a Region 2 Administrator at the United States Environmental Protection Agency in October. Schoharie Town Supervisor Christopher Tague has secured the Republican nod, beating out former Ulster County Legislature candidate Santos Lopez, while Aidan O’Connor Jr., a member of the Greene County Legislature, is the Democratic nominee. The district encompasses parts of four counties -- Albany Columbia, Greene, and Schoharie -- and has a slight Republican advantage.</p> <p><strong>Assembly 17th District - Nassau County </strong><br />Former Assemblymember Thomas McKevitt, a Republican, stepped down for a seat on the Nassau County Legislature. No candidates have yet emerged. The district has a GOP advantage.</p> <p><strong>Assembly 142nd District - Buffalo Region</strong><br />Michael Kearns, a Democrat who ran on the GOP line, narrowly defeated Democratic candidate and former radio host Steve Cichon, a lifelong Republican, for Erie County Clerk in the fall. While the majority of the district is Democratic, party affiliation can be complicated in Buffalo.</p> <p>Erie County Legislator Patrick Burke has nabbed the Democratic nomination for this vacant seat, while the Republicans <a href="http://buffalonews.com/2018/02/13/gop-taps-democrat-bohen-for-assembly-special-election/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">have picked</a> a Democrat, Erik T. Bohen, as their candidate in the special election to replace Kearns.</p> <p>The district includes parts of South Buffalo, Lackawanna, Seneca, and Orchard Park.</p> <p><strong>Assembly District 10 - Suffolk County </strong><br />Former Republican Assemblymember Chad Lupinacci left this seat to take over as supervisor of Huntington, a seat held by Frank Petrone for 24 years. The 10th District of the Assembly, which includes large portions of Suffolk County, has a Democratic advantage.</p> <p><strong>Assembly District 107 - Rensselaer, Albany, Columbia</strong><br />No candidates have emerged yet for the seat of former Assemblymember Steve McLaughlin, a Republican who left the Assembly after winning the race for Rensselaer County executive, but five Democrats and two Republicans <a href="https://www.timesunion.com/news/article/Republicans-and-Democrats-selecting-candidates-12610943.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener">have reportedly</a> been interviewed by respective party leaders.</p> <p>The district is evenly split between Democrats and Republicans.</p> <p>

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by Rachel Silberstein, State government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
Staten Island Activist Eyes Primary Challenge to IDC Senator Savino 2018-01-31T05:00:00+00:00 2018-01-31T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7453:staten-island-activist-eyes-primary-challenge-to-idc-senator-savino Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/jasmine_robinson_idc.jpg" alt="jasmine robinson idc" width="600" height="564" /></p> <p>photo: Jasmine Robinson</p> <hr /> <p>State Senator Diane Savino, a founding member of the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), may be facing a challenge in the Democratic primary this fall.</p> <p>Jasmine “Jasi” Robinson, 38, a legal secretary and community activist from Port Richmond, told Gotham Gazette she is mulling a run for the 23rd Senate District that encompasses the North Shore of Staten Island and a sliver of southern Brooklyn, citing the anti-IDC movement among progressives as her inspiration.</p> <p>Robinson, who has lived in the district her entire life, learned about the ruling coalition between the breakaway Democrats and Senate Republicans during an information session organized by “No IDC NY” in Manhattan in January. She was invited to the event with Staten Island Women Who March -- <a href="http://www.silive.com/news/2018/01/staten_island_womens_groups_st.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a group that formed</a> out of the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, D.C. -- and found it eye-opening, she said.</p> <p>“I wanted to educate myself more about the IDC. I had heard [Savino’s] side; I wanted to hear another side,” said Robinson. “They were very fair, they showed both sides of the coin…I was informed about the different issues facing the different communities and how the progressive voice is being silenced in Albany and that can’t be.”</p> <p>Robinson has not yet formed a campaign committee, saying she is considering her options and will make a decision about whether to run for office in the next few weeks.</p> <p>Currently, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7439-running-without-establishment-support-idc-challengers-show-initial-fundraising-strides" target="_blank" rel="noopener">five of the eight IDC members </a>appear to be facing at least one challenger.&nbsp;IDC leader Jeff Klein, of the Bronx, has two declared opponents and three anti-IDC candidates have announced their intentions to unseat Jose Peralta, of Queens. Senator Jesse Hamilton of Brooklyn, Senator Marisol Alcantara of Manhattan, and Senator David Valesky of Oneida are each facing one challenger. Robinson’s candidacy against Savino would bring the number of IDC members facing primaries to six.</p> <p>Senator David Carlucci, of Rockland and Westchester counties, and Queens Senator Tony Avella remain unchallenged.</p> <p>Notably, anti-IDC candidates <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7439-running-without-establishment-support-idc-challengers-show-initial-fundraising-strides" target="_blank" rel="noopener">are forging ahead</a> with their candidacies despite a tentative Senate Democratic reunification plan on the table and lack of support from much of the Democratic establishment. A number of these contenders have shown significant initial fundraising strides, primarily from small individual donors (as opposed to corporations, unions, or political groups), over a short period of time. The party primaries are in September.</p> <p>Progressives remain skeptical of reunification deal, which has been orchestrated by Governor Andrew Cuomo, a second-term Democrat who is also up for reelection this year. Four years ago, when there were five IDC members, several announced challengers dropped their bids, citing a potential Senate Democratic reunification deal that ultimately did not materialize, while others forged ahead without establishment support and lost. Staten Island lawyer and M.T.A. board member Allen Cappelli, who briefly sought Savino’s seat in 2014, withdrew his campaign, <a href="https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2014/07/savino-challenger-withdraws-from-senate-race-014071" target="_blank" rel="noopener">telling Politico</a>, "The rationale was not there anymore.” Savino ran unopposed in the Democratic primary and the general election in 2016.</p> <p>The current deal would only be implemented if Democrats hold the 32 seats necessary to retake the majority after a special election for two vacant Senate seats, which is expected to be called by the governor for April 24, and relies Senator Simcha Felder, a nominal Democrat who caucuses with the GOP conference, returning to the Democratic fold.</p> <p>The anti-IDC backlash appears to have been stoked in part by the 2016 election of President Donald Trump, which energized the grassroots and is putting renewed pressure on the Democratic factions to reunite. A number of progressive anti-IDC groups have formed, like No IDC NY, which aim to make IDC a household phrase and educate voters about the structures in Albany that block the passage progressive legislation.</p> <p>“The difference is Trump,” said No IDC spokesperson Sean McElwee. “There’s just an incredible salience to politics right now that is going to make a difference. The grassroots resistance to Trump is also resisting the machine-style politics that has been practiced in New York City over the past few decades.”</p> <p>On Staten Island’s North Shore, many were mobilized to activism following the death of North Shore resident Eric Garner at the hands of a police officer, with Garner’s final words, “I can’t breathe,” becoming a rallying cry in police accountability protests across the nation. After a grand jury decided not to indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who placed Garner in a deadly chokehold, there was much criticism over the lack of transparency in the grand jury proceedings. At the time, Senator Savino <a href="http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2014/12/eric_garner_decision_staten_is.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">urged Staten Islanders</a> to respect the judicial process, but sponsored a bill, along with Staten Island Assemblymember Matthew Titone, requiring grand jury testimony to be made public.</p> <p>Robinson, who lives down the block from Eric Garner’s mother and had met him a few weeks before his death, said that Savino’s actions were not sufficient in making North Shore communities of color feel heard.</p> <p>“We have not seen Diane Savino taking the lead or even lending a voice or a hand in the case of Eric Garner. There was a vigil for his daughter [Erica Garner, who passed away in late 2017] and she was not there. You can’t pick and choose what issues you are going to be involved in,” said Robinson.</p> <p>A spokesperson for Savino noted that after Garner's death, Savino stood alongside Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Member Debi Rose as they commemorated his life and acknowledged the need for a change in community-police relations.</p> <p>“Senator Savino is up for re-election every two years and looks forward to the opportunity for a rigorous debate on issues that are important to her District,” the campaign spokesperson, Jennifer Blatus, added.</p> <p>If she becomes a candidate, Robinson says she hopes to change the public’s perception of Staten Island, which is seeing a lively and growing progressive wave.</p> <p>“Staten Island is not just Trump land,” she said. “It’s a coalition of so many different people; of progressives, of immigrants, of Latinos, of blacks -- it’s just a melting pot of people who want and need change in their communities. I want to be part of that new wave of politics that is changing Staten Island.”</p> <p>Robinson has been active in local politics, working as a coordinator for the local Board of Elections and canvassing for a number of political campaigns, including that of former City Council Member Vincent Gentile and Staten Island Borough President candidate Tom Shcherbenko. She was recently elected to the executive board of the Staten Island Democratic Association, which touts itself as one of Staten Island’s oldest and most progressive Democratic clubs.</p> <p>Olusoji Oluwole, a longtime member of the club, said that he believes Robinson’s potential candidacy would give progressives more visibility on Staten Island.</p> <p>“For too long, some members of the Democratic Party have just played it safe and didn't want to alienate some of the moderates and conservatives on the Island, so I think some of the progressives in Staten Island are taken for granted,” said Oluwole.</p> <p>While she may not have the support of the Democratic establishment, Robinson would have the backing and support of No IDC NY, which runs a multi-candidate campaign committee that has raised more than $20,000, in mostly small donations, according to its most recent Board of Elections filings. The group seeks to create a Democratic majority by unseating all of the breakaway Democrats and replacing them with “real Democrats” who are committed to caucusing with the mainline conference. According to No IDC’s chief strategist, Gus Christensen, Robinson fits the bill.</p> <p>"Jasmine is off to a great start in building her support among progressive activists on Staten Island, in south Brooklyn and all around New York State. She has amazing potential -- she is extremely bright and charismatic,” he said in a statement. “Even more importantly, she really knows the people, and their issues and their problems, right in her community.”</p> <p><em>Correction: An earlier version of this piece misidentified the location of Senator David Carlucci's district.</em></p> <p>

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by Rachel Silberstein, State government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/jasmine_robinson_idc.jpg" alt="jasmine robinson idc" width="600" height="564" /></p> <p>photo: Jasmine Robinson</p> <hr /> <p>State Senator Diane Savino, a founding member of the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), may be facing a challenge in the Democratic primary this fall.</p> <p>Jasmine “Jasi” Robinson, 38, a legal secretary and community activist from Port Richmond, told Gotham Gazette she is mulling a run for the 23rd Senate District that encompasses the North Shore of Staten Island and a sliver of southern Brooklyn, citing the anti-IDC movement among progressives as her inspiration.</p> <p>Robinson, who has lived in the district her entire life, learned about the ruling coalition between the breakaway Democrats and Senate Republicans during an information session organized by “No IDC NY” in Manhattan in January. She was invited to the event with Staten Island Women Who March -- <a href="http://www.silive.com/news/2018/01/staten_island_womens_groups_st.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a group that formed</a> out of the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, D.C. -- and found it eye-opening, she said.</p> <p>“I wanted to educate myself more about the IDC. I had heard [Savino’s] side; I wanted to hear another side,” said Robinson. “They were very fair, they showed both sides of the coin…I was informed about the different issues facing the different communities and how the progressive voice is being silenced in Albany and that can’t be.”</p> <p>Robinson has not yet formed a campaign committee, saying she is considering her options and will make a decision about whether to run for office in the next few weeks.</p> <p>Currently, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7439-running-without-establishment-support-idc-challengers-show-initial-fundraising-strides" target="_blank" rel="noopener">five of the eight IDC members </a>appear to be facing at least one challenger.&nbsp;IDC leader Jeff Klein, of the Bronx, has two declared opponents and three anti-IDC candidates have announced their intentions to unseat Jose Peralta, of Queens. Senator Jesse Hamilton of Brooklyn, Senator Marisol Alcantara of Manhattan, and Senator David Valesky of Oneida are each facing one challenger. Robinson’s candidacy against Savino would bring the number of IDC members facing primaries to six.</p> <p>Senator David Carlucci, of Rockland and Westchester counties, and Queens Senator Tony Avella remain unchallenged.</p> <p>Notably, anti-IDC candidates <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7439-running-without-establishment-support-idc-challengers-show-initial-fundraising-strides" target="_blank" rel="noopener">are forging ahead</a> with their candidacies despite a tentative Senate Democratic reunification plan on the table and lack of support from much of the Democratic establishment. A number of these contenders have shown significant initial fundraising strides, primarily from small individual donors (as opposed to corporations, unions, or political groups), over a short period of time. The party primaries are in September.</p> <p>Progressives remain skeptical of reunification deal, which has been orchestrated by Governor Andrew Cuomo, a second-term Democrat who is also up for reelection this year. Four years ago, when there were five IDC members, several announced challengers dropped their bids, citing a potential Senate Democratic reunification deal that ultimately did not materialize, while others forged ahead without establishment support and lost. Staten Island lawyer and M.T.A. board member Allen Cappelli, who briefly sought Savino’s seat in 2014, withdrew his campaign, <a href="https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2014/07/savino-challenger-withdraws-from-senate-race-014071" target="_blank" rel="noopener">telling Politico</a>, "The rationale was not there anymore.” Savino ran unopposed in the Democratic primary and the general election in 2016.</p> <p>The current deal would only be implemented if Democrats hold the 32 seats necessary to retake the majority after a special election for two vacant Senate seats, which is expected to be called by the governor for April 24, and relies Senator Simcha Felder, a nominal Democrat who caucuses with the GOP conference, returning to the Democratic fold.</p> <p>The anti-IDC backlash appears to have been stoked in part by the 2016 election of President Donald Trump, which energized the grassroots and is putting renewed pressure on the Democratic factions to reunite. A number of progressive anti-IDC groups have formed, like No IDC NY, which aim to make IDC a household phrase and educate voters about the structures in Albany that block the passage progressive legislation.</p> <p>“The difference is Trump,” said No IDC spokesperson Sean McElwee. “There’s just an incredible salience to politics right now that is going to make a difference. The grassroots resistance to Trump is also resisting the machine-style politics that has been practiced in New York City over the past few decades.”</p> <p>On Staten Island’s North Shore, many were mobilized to activism following the death of North Shore resident Eric Garner at the hands of a police officer, with Garner’s final words, “I can’t breathe,” becoming a rallying cry in police accountability protests across the nation. After a grand jury decided not to indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who placed Garner in a deadly chokehold, there was much criticism over the lack of transparency in the grand jury proceedings. At the time, Senator Savino <a href="http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2014/12/eric_garner_decision_staten_is.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">urged Staten Islanders</a> to respect the judicial process, but sponsored a bill, along with Staten Island Assemblymember Matthew Titone, requiring grand jury testimony to be made public.</p> <p>Robinson, who lives down the block from Eric Garner’s mother and had met him a few weeks before his death, said that Savino’s actions were not sufficient in making North Shore communities of color feel heard.</p> <p>“We have not seen Diane Savino taking the lead or even lending a voice or a hand in the case of Eric Garner. There was a vigil for his daughter [Erica Garner, who passed away in late 2017] and she was not there. You can’t pick and choose what issues you are going to be involved in,” said Robinson.</p> <p>A spokesperson for Savino noted that after Garner's death, Savino stood alongside Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Member Debi Rose as they commemorated his life and acknowledged the need for a change in community-police relations.</p> <p>“Senator Savino is up for re-election every two years and looks forward to the opportunity for a rigorous debate on issues that are important to her District,” the campaign spokesperson, Jennifer Blatus, added.</p> <p>If she becomes a candidate, Robinson says she hopes to change the public’s perception of Staten Island, which is seeing a lively and growing progressive wave.</p> <p>“Staten Island is not just Trump land,” she said. “It’s a coalition of so many different people; of progressives, of immigrants, of Latinos, of blacks -- it’s just a melting pot of people who want and need change in their communities. I want to be part of that new wave of politics that is changing Staten Island.”</p> <p>Robinson has been active in local politics, working as a coordinator for the local Board of Elections and canvassing for a number of political campaigns, including that of former City Council Member Vincent Gentile and Staten Island Borough President candidate Tom Shcherbenko. She was recently elected to the executive board of the Staten Island Democratic Association, which touts itself as one of Staten Island’s oldest and most progressive Democratic clubs.</p> <p>Olusoji Oluwole, a longtime member of the club, said that he believes Robinson’s potential candidacy would give progressives more visibility on Staten Island.</p> <p>“For too long, some members of the Democratic Party have just played it safe and didn't want to alienate some of the moderates and conservatives on the Island, so I think some of the progressives in Staten Island are taken for granted,” said Oluwole.</p> <p>While she may not have the support of the Democratic establishment, Robinson would have the backing and support of No IDC NY, which runs a multi-candidate campaign committee that has raised more than $20,000, in mostly small donations, according to its most recent Board of Elections filings. The group seeks to create a Democratic majority by unseating all of the breakaway Democrats and replacing them with “real Democrats” who are committed to caucusing with the mainline conference. According to No IDC’s chief strategist, Gus Christensen, Robinson fits the bill.</p> <p>"Jasmine is off to a great start in building her support among progressive activists on Staten Island, in south Brooklyn and all around New York State. She has amazing potential -- she is extremely bright and charismatic,” he said in a statement. “Even more importantly, she really knows the people, and their issues and their problems, right in her community.”</p> <p><em>Correction: An earlier version of this piece misidentified the location of Senator David Carlucci's district.</em></p> <p>

***
by Rachel Silberstein, State government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Campaign Finance Board Begins Formal Review of 2017 Election Cycle 2018-01-30T05:00:00+00:00 2018-01-30T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7450:campaign-finance-board-begins-review-of-2017-election-cycle Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/38217437682_498d6893fe_z.jpg" alt="Mayor de Blasio 2017 election voting" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>(photo: Samar Khurshid/Gotham Gazette)</p> <hr /> <p>The New York Campaign Finance Board (CFB) held a hearing Monday morning to field testimony on the 2017 New York City election cycle from candidates, operatives, and advocates. The hearing, part of a quadrennial post-election report that must be submitted before September 1 the year after the election, came on the heels of <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7429-candidates-file-final-campaign-finance-reports-of-2017-election-cycle" target="_blank">final campaign finance filing of the 2017 cycle</a>. The CFB post-election process will lead to a report that then informs legislation typically introduced by City Council members to tweak the city’s heralded public-matching system that encourages small-dollar fundraising.</p> <p>Led by CFB chair Frederick Schaffer, Monday morning’s meeting was attended by roughly 35 people and lasted just under two hours. It featured discussion on increasing voter participation, ins and outs of campaign financing, and CFB protocols in working with candidates. As is typical, several candidates who were unsuccessful in the recently completed elections expressed frustration with the process, though the vast majority of candidates did not testify at the hearing. City Council Member Ben Kallos was the lone elected official to testify -- Kallos has been a campaign finance and government reform advocate prior to joining the Council, and for the last four-year cycle chaired the Council committee with oversight of the CFB.</p> <p>The board took stock of its initiatives during the last cycle -- which featured elections for citywide, borough-wide, and City Council seats -- including the matching funds program, but also the candidate debates that it sponsored, and its other voter education and outreach efforts.</p> <p>According to the CFB’s data, during the 2017 cycle 73% of candidates received money from the program; the CFB distributed funds totaling $17,694,046 to 105 different people running for office. This past cycle, 46% of spending came via public funds. And in 25 Council races, matching funds comprised of over half of campaign spending.</p> <p>The first and only of its kind, the hearing is part of a process that may prove pivotal in the next election cycle, ahead of what will be a far more contentious and busy 2021 elections. After the CFB released its report on the 2013 elections in 2014, the City Council subsequently incorporated many of the proposals in about a dozen pieces of legislation that passed ahead of these past elections, along with about another ten campaign finance-related <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6668-city-council-rushes-through-campaign-finance-bills" target="_blank">bills brought forth by Council members to modify the system and related processes to their liking</a>.</p> <p>According to the CFB, of 14 statutory changes the board recommended in 2014, 10 became law, including measures to make determinations about public matching funds earlier in the cycle, clarify eligibilty for debates in the citywide races, and ban anonymous campaign communications. Those that were not enacted into law include instant runoff voting.</p> <p>On Monday, advocates and others testifying offered several changes they would like to see ahead of the 2021 election. Further encouraging candidates to raise funds via small-dollar donations topped the list of priorities.</p> <p>Kallos made the case for <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2637108&amp;GUID=11C13B83-99DB-4671-AA99-CF5B5827BBF4&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a bill</a> he sponsored last term and will soon re-introduce this term, which he said would additionally incentivize candidates to pursue small-dollar donations by increasing the threshold for public matching dollars that candidates can earn. &nbsp;While he called New York City’s “the model public finance system in the country,” he said it can also be improved upon.</p> <p>Under current campaign finance law, Kallos explained, the CFB matches the first $175 of eligible donations at a six-to-one ratio. Kallos wants to raise the ceiling for matching funds so that candidates can run for office by raising all donations of $175 or less if they so choose, and still be able to hit the spending cap. If his policy in enacted, Kallos said candidates would be able to finance campaigns on mostly small donations. For example, he said, someone would be able to run for mayor collecting 5,689 contributions of $175, raising about $1 million, to be matched six-to-one, garnering a total of $7 million and able “to run a competitive race.”</p> <p>“The ability to run a 100 percent grassroots campaign, where a candidate is beholden to no one except the voters, will revolutionize city politics and restore confidence in government [that] has been steadily eroding for decades,” he said.</p> <p>“If candidates pursue a small-dollars, grassroots campaign, we will have elected officials who earned their positions based on their knowledge of the issues,” he said, rather than candidates’ “ability to convince millionaires and billionaires to open their wallets.”&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Asked what the advantage of his proposal is over lowering the contribution limit with the aim of encouraging low-dollar donations, Kallos responded that candidates would still opt not to seek small donations and prioritize larger donors if the contribution limit was reduced. “Whatever the contribution limit is, is what elected officials will seek. Lowering that threshold just makes it a little bit cheaper for those writing those maximum checks under the law,” Kallos said.</p> <p>Michael Malbin, campaign finance expert and politics professor at the University of Albany, agreed with the thinking behind Kallos’ bill. “If you raise your money from max donors...you’re not going into the neighborhoods to get $50 contributions,” Malbin said during his testimony. “And the goal of this is, or ought to be, to increase participation by a diverse set of people who fully represent the city.”</p> <p>Caitlin Scherer, of Represent.US, voiced support for Kallos’ legislation. And more broadly, Scherer made the case for increasing the amount of public spending on elections. “Doing so would involve more citizens in the political process and relieve candidates of the pressure to solicit donations from those with the deepest pockets,” she said during testimony.</p> <p>Reinvent Albany senior policy consultant Alex Camarda also expressed support for Kallos’ legislation. The bill was co-sponsored last term by Council members Brad Lander and Fernando Cabrera, along with <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2637108&amp;GUID=11C13B83-99DB-4671-AA99-CF5B5827BBF4" target="_blank" rel="noopener">29 others</a>, for a total of 32 sponsors in the 51-seat body, and was discussed at a <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6898-proposal-would-boost-public-campaign-matching-funds" target="_blank">hearing</a> last April, but did not see a committee vote.</p> <p>Rachel Bloom, director of public policy at Citizens Union, another government reform group, offered other suggestions on campaign finance reform during her testimony. Before the 2021 elections, Bloom said Citizens Union wants to see “an increase in spending caps to counteract increases in independent expenditures, banning the use of public funds for campaign consulting services from firms that also lobby; and a further reduction in public funds for candidates facing minimal opposition and the enactment of ‘war chest’ restrictions.’”</p> <p>Bloom also assessed the voter turnout in the 2017 elections, which was exceedingly <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7036-8-new-report-shows-shockingly-low-voter-turnout-in-nyc" target="_blank">low</a>. She pointed toward the lack of competitiveness in many elections across the five boroughs, with incumbents receiving 74% of the vote and only about 10 of more than 50 municipal seats open in 2017 as the factors driving low voter participation. The elections last year, she said, were “notably uncompetitive.” Bloom added that “open” city council races, races without incumbents seeking office, were 12% more likely to participate in the matching funds program.</p> <p>Matt McDermott, director at Whitman Insight Strategies, mentioned the difficulty of getting younger voters to the polls. “These voters aren’t apathetic. They actually have issues they care about and they actually care about those passionately,” McDermott said. “The difficulty is in correlating those care-abouts to voting in local elections.”</p> <p>“A lot of younger people just don’t know there’s a primary,” said Caileigh Scott of McEvoy &amp; Associates. “It is partially a communication breakdown.”</p> <p>Malbin said that though getting millennials to vote it a difficult task, it is also crucial. &nbsp;“The research show that once you get somebody to vote, it’s really a habit. The first couple are the hard ones,” said Malbin.</p> <p>While the majority of testimony was focused on specific recommended changes to the CFB system, some who testified -- mainly those who either worked on unsuccessful campaigns or had run themselves -- had harsh words for the CFB.</p> <p>Angela Disto, who served as treasurer for Liam McCabe’s unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination in City Council District 43, complained that some of the CFB’s verification process of donations was “petty” and “unnecessary.”</p> <p>“I’m a volunteer, as [are] the majority of campaign treasurers. Who needs it?” she said. “Why does the board make this mostly volunteer role so overwhelming?”</p> <p>Anthony Rivers, who ran unsuccessfully in City Council District 27, does not think the CFB-led training sessions adequately prepared him for the campaign.</p> <p>“I feel the training does not put enough emphasis on campaign contribution cards and their importance,” he said. “It should be heavily stressed on the importance of not having a single blemish on the contributions card. Our campaign suffered many setbacks due to minor blemishes on the individual cards.”</p> <p>For his part, Cary Goodman, who ran in Council District 6, had a different experience with the CFB. “I am here as a poster boy for the Campaign Finance Board,” he said. “There is absolutely no way I would have been able to conduct a campaign against the incumbent -- it was not successful, I got rocked -- but I would not have have [had] the opportunity to do what I did without the Campaign Finance Board.”</p> <p>The CFB will now proceed with months of internal work to complete its post-election report before September 1. The next filing for the 2017 campaign cycle and first filing for the 2021 cycle is July 15.</p> <p> </p> <p> Note: Gotham Gazette is an independent publication of Citizens Union Foundation, sister organization of Citizens Union. </p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/38217437682_498d6893fe_z.jpg" alt="Mayor de Blasio 2017 election voting" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>(photo: Samar Khurshid/Gotham Gazette)</p> <hr /> <p>The New York Campaign Finance Board (CFB) held a hearing Monday morning to field testimony on the 2017 New York City election cycle from candidates, operatives, and advocates. The hearing, part of a quadrennial post-election report that must be submitted before September 1 the year after the election, came on the heels of <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7429-candidates-file-final-campaign-finance-reports-of-2017-election-cycle" target="_blank">final campaign finance filing of the 2017 cycle</a>. The CFB post-election process will lead to a report that then informs legislation typically introduced by City Council members to tweak the city’s heralded public-matching system that encourages small-dollar fundraising.</p> <p>Led by CFB chair Frederick Schaffer, Monday morning’s meeting was attended by roughly 35 people and lasted just under two hours. It featured discussion on increasing voter participation, ins and outs of campaign financing, and CFB protocols in working with candidates. As is typical, several candidates who were unsuccessful in the recently completed elections expressed frustration with the process, though the vast majority of candidates did not testify at the hearing. City Council Member Ben Kallos was the lone elected official to testify -- Kallos has been a campaign finance and government reform advocate prior to joining the Council, and for the last four-year cycle chaired the Council committee with oversight of the CFB.</p> <p>The board took stock of its initiatives during the last cycle -- which featured elections for citywide, borough-wide, and City Council seats -- including the matching funds program, but also the candidate debates that it sponsored, and its other voter education and outreach efforts.</p> <p>According to the CFB’s data, during the 2017 cycle 73% of candidates received money from the program; the CFB distributed funds totaling $17,694,046 to 105 different people running for office. This past cycle, 46% of spending came via public funds. And in 25 Council races, matching funds comprised of over half of campaign spending.</p> <p>The first and only of its kind, the hearing is part of a process that may prove pivotal in the next election cycle, ahead of what will be a far more contentious and busy 2021 elections. After the CFB released its report on the 2013 elections in 2014, the City Council subsequently incorporated many of the proposals in about a dozen pieces of legislation that passed ahead of these past elections, along with about another ten campaign finance-related <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6668-city-council-rushes-through-campaign-finance-bills" target="_blank">bills brought forth by Council members to modify the system and related processes to their liking</a>.</p> <p>According to the CFB, of 14 statutory changes the board recommended in 2014, 10 became law, including measures to make determinations about public matching funds earlier in the cycle, clarify eligibilty for debates in the citywide races, and ban anonymous campaign communications. Those that were not enacted into law include instant runoff voting.</p> <p>On Monday, advocates and others testifying offered several changes they would like to see ahead of the 2021 election. Further encouraging candidates to raise funds via small-dollar donations topped the list of priorities.</p> <p>Kallos made the case for <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2637108&amp;GUID=11C13B83-99DB-4671-AA99-CF5B5827BBF4&amp;Options=&amp;Search=" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a bill</a> he sponsored last term and will soon re-introduce this term, which he said would additionally incentivize candidates to pursue small-dollar donations by increasing the threshold for public matching dollars that candidates can earn. &nbsp;While he called New York City’s “the model public finance system in the country,” he said it can also be improved upon.</p> <p>Under current campaign finance law, Kallos explained, the CFB matches the first $175 of eligible donations at a six-to-one ratio. Kallos wants to raise the ceiling for matching funds so that candidates can run for office by raising all donations of $175 or less if they so choose, and still be able to hit the spending cap. If his policy in enacted, Kallos said candidates would be able to finance campaigns on mostly small donations. For example, he said, someone would be able to run for mayor collecting 5,689 contributions of $175, raising about $1 million, to be matched six-to-one, garnering a total of $7 million and able “to run a competitive race.”</p> <p>“The ability to run a 100 percent grassroots campaign, where a candidate is beholden to no one except the voters, will revolutionize city politics and restore confidence in government [that] has been steadily eroding for decades,” he said.</p> <p>“If candidates pursue a small-dollars, grassroots campaign, we will have elected officials who earned their positions based on their knowledge of the issues,” he said, rather than candidates’ “ability to convince millionaires and billionaires to open their wallets.”&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Asked what the advantage of his proposal is over lowering the contribution limit with the aim of encouraging low-dollar donations, Kallos responded that candidates would still opt not to seek small donations and prioritize larger donors if the contribution limit was reduced. “Whatever the contribution limit is, is what elected officials will seek. Lowering that threshold just makes it a little bit cheaper for those writing those maximum checks under the law,” Kallos said.</p> <p>Michael Malbin, campaign finance expert and politics professor at the University of Albany, agreed with the thinking behind Kallos’ bill. “If you raise your money from max donors...you’re not going into the neighborhoods to get $50 contributions,” Malbin said during his testimony. “And the goal of this is, or ought to be, to increase participation by a diverse set of people who fully represent the city.”</p> <p>Caitlin Scherer, of Represent.US, voiced support for Kallos’ legislation. And more broadly, Scherer made the case for increasing the amount of public spending on elections. “Doing so would involve more citizens in the political process and relieve candidates of the pressure to solicit donations from those with the deepest pockets,” she said during testimony.</p> <p>Reinvent Albany senior policy consultant Alex Camarda also expressed support for Kallos’ legislation. The bill was co-sponsored last term by Council members Brad Lander and Fernando Cabrera, along with <a href="http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2637108&amp;GUID=11C13B83-99DB-4671-AA99-CF5B5827BBF4" target="_blank" rel="noopener">29 others</a>, for a total of 32 sponsors in the 51-seat body, and was discussed at a <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/6898-proposal-would-boost-public-campaign-matching-funds" target="_blank">hearing</a> last April, but did not see a committee vote.</p> <p>Rachel Bloom, director of public policy at Citizens Union, another government reform group, offered other suggestions on campaign finance reform during her testimony. Before the 2021 elections, Bloom said Citizens Union wants to see “an increase in spending caps to counteract increases in independent expenditures, banning the use of public funds for campaign consulting services from firms that also lobby; and a further reduction in public funds for candidates facing minimal opposition and the enactment of ‘war chest’ restrictions.’”</p> <p>Bloom also assessed the voter turnout in the 2017 elections, which was exceedingly <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7036-8-new-report-shows-shockingly-low-voter-turnout-in-nyc" target="_blank">low</a>. She pointed toward the lack of competitiveness in many elections across the five boroughs, with incumbents receiving 74% of the vote and only about 10 of more than 50 municipal seats open in 2017 as the factors driving low voter participation. The elections last year, she said, were “notably uncompetitive.” Bloom added that “open” city council races, races without incumbents seeking office, were 12% more likely to participate in the matching funds program.</p> <p>Matt McDermott, director at Whitman Insight Strategies, mentioned the difficulty of getting younger voters to the polls. “These voters aren’t apathetic. They actually have issues they care about and they actually care about those passionately,” McDermott said. “The difficulty is in correlating those care-abouts to voting in local elections.”</p> <p>“A lot of younger people just don’t know there’s a primary,” said Caileigh Scott of McEvoy &amp; Associates. “It is partially a communication breakdown.”</p> <p>Malbin said that though getting millennials to vote it a difficult task, it is also crucial. &nbsp;“The research show that once you get somebody to vote, it’s really a habit. The first couple are the hard ones,” said Malbin.</p> <p>While the majority of testimony was focused on specific recommended changes to the CFB system, some who testified -- mainly those who either worked on unsuccessful campaigns or had run themselves -- had harsh words for the CFB.</p> <p>Angela Disto, who served as treasurer for Liam McCabe’s unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination in City Council District 43, complained that some of the CFB’s verification process of donations was “petty” and “unnecessary.”</p> <p>“I’m a volunteer, as [are] the majority of campaign treasurers. Who needs it?” she said. “Why does the board make this mostly volunteer role so overwhelming?”</p> <p>Anthony Rivers, who ran unsuccessfully in City Council District 27, does not think the CFB-led training sessions adequately prepared him for the campaign.</p> <p>“I feel the training does not put enough emphasis on campaign contribution cards and their importance,” he said. “It should be heavily stressed on the importance of not having a single blemish on the contributions card. Our campaign suffered many setbacks due to minor blemishes on the individual cards.”</p> <p>For his part, Cary Goodman, who ran in Council District 6, had a different experience with the CFB. “I am here as a poster boy for the Campaign Finance Board,” he said. “There is absolutely no way I would have been able to conduct a campaign against the incumbent -- it was not successful, I got rocked -- but I would not have have [had] the opportunity to do what I did without the Campaign Finance Board.”</p> <p>The CFB will now proceed with months of internal work to complete its post-election report before September 1. The next filing for the 2017 campaign cycle and first filing for the 2021 cycle is July 15.</p> <p> </p> <p> Note: Gotham Gazette is an independent publication of Citizens Union Foundation, sister organization of Citizens Union. </p> 2018 Will Be a Busy, Contentious Election Year in New York 2018-01-22T05:00:00+00:00 2018-01-22T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7434:2018-will-be-a-busy-contentious-election-year-in-new-york Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/26473316189_c59edbb89b_z.jpg" alt="election polling place Brooklyn" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>a polling place (photo: Samar Khurshid/Gotham Gazette)</p> <hr /> <p>This year will be another busy, contentious election year for New Yorkers. While 2017 saw the majority of elections confined to local government, 2018 will see three election days and races for state-level offices, including five of six statewide positions and all of the state Legislature, and all of the state’s delegation to the House of Representatives.</p> <p>A fourth election day may occur in some districts if Governor Andrew Cuomo calls a special election to fill 11 currently vacant state Senate and Assembly seats before the regularly-scheduled votes this fall. Cuomo could have called the special election as early as January 1 but has waited to do so, leaving those 11 districts with less than full representation.</p> <p>Aside from those potential special elections and depending on political party affiliation, New Yorkers will be able to vote in the federal primaries on June 26; the state primaries on September 11; and Election Day November 6. Only those registered with a party can vote in party primaries in New York, but the November general elections are open to all registered voters. So-called “independent” voters -- those registered to vote but not with a party -- cannot participate in party primaries, nor can those registered with parties wherein primaries are not being decided.</p> <p>In 2016 there was an unsuccessful push to combine the congressional and state primaries to a single date, which ensured four election days given it was a presidential year and that primary was in April. There is a good chance there will be a similar push this year to combine primary dates, but while Democrats have sought to move the state primaries to June, Republicans have suggested an August date, leaving the sides at an impasse.</p> <p>Along with all the 27 New York House seats, which are elected every two years, one of New York’s two United State Senate seats, elected every six years, is on the ballot this year -- the one currently held by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. At the state government level, the four statewide posts of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and Comptroller are all on the ballot in their four-year cycle, as well as the every-two-year elections of all 150 seats in the state Assembly and all 63 seats in the state Senate.</p> <p>In New York, this year’s deadlines for candidates to file for federal office is April 12 and for state offices, July 12.</p> <p>Another macro issue to watch ahead of this year’s elections is voting reform in New York. There is an ongoing push to see early voting passed, among other reforms like same-day registration and no-excuse absentee voting. While Cuomo, a Democrat, and the Democrat-controlled Assembly support such reforms, Republicans who control the state Senate do not.</p> <p><strong>2018 Federal Elections in New York</strong><br /> While Gillibrand is up for reelection this year, New York’s other U.S. Senator, Charles Schumer, won reelection in 2016 and won’t be on the ballot again until 2022. Gillibrand served in the House of Representatives from 2007 to 2009 before being appointed to the Senate in 2009, and winning a special election in 2010, to fill Hillary Clinton’s vacant seat when she was appointed Secretary of State. Gillibrand went on to win the regularly-scheduled 2012 election for the seat as well and is now running for her second full term as a senator. She is rumored as a possible 2020 presidential candidate. It is unclear who Republicans will run against her this year in New York.</p> <p>In the House, New York and national Democrats are eyeing several seats to help flip control of the chamber through the 2018 elections. As of January 2018, the House is composed of 238 Republicans and 193 Democrats, with 4 vacancies.</p> <p>Given Republican President Donald Trump’s record unpopularity, which is especially acute in his home state of New York; recent Democratic electoral wins in New York and elsewhere; and historical trends whereby a new president’s party loses congressional seats in the midterm elections, many are expecting a Democratic wave in 2018, with the potential for flipping the House and possibly the Senate.</p> <p>Democrats’ “red to blue” campaign across the country will include multiple New York districts while local party activists may target others. Governor Cuomo, himself seeking a third term this year, has promised a campaign to flip six New York House seats after their officeholders have supported legislation Cuomo deems detrimental to New York. Cuomo joined House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats at a June 2017 rally in Manhattan to kick off a campaign to unseat Reps. Lee Zeldin (CD1), Chris Collins (CD27), John Faso (CD19), Elise Stefanik (CD21), Claudia Tenney (CD22), and Tom Reed (CD23).</p> <p>The national Democratic Party is currently <a href="https://redtoblue.dccc.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">prioritizing</a> two of those New York Congressional Districts, the 11th and the 22nd. Rep. Donovan currently represents the 11th, which includes all of Staten Island and some of Brooklyn. Max Rose is seen as the Democrats’ best chance to unseat Donovan in November, though Donovan also must first survivie a primary challenge by former Rep. Michael Grimm, who resigned from Congress after pleading guilty to tax evasion charges. Rep. Tenney represents the 22nd, sitting just east of Syracuse and including Binghamton, Cortland, and Utica, and the Democratic Party is apparently behind Anthony Brindisi, a state Assembly member.</p> <p>New York’s 19th Congressional District, currently represented by Faso, is expected to be a toss up. Faso won a hotly contested 2016 race against Democrat Zephyr Teachout. The Hudson Valley seat is likely to again be home to a great deal of political spending.</p> <p>The 24th Congressional District may also be home to a strong challenge to a sitting Republican. Syracuse’s recently-former mayor Stephanie Miner, a Democrat, has hinted at potentially challenging current Rep. Katko. The Democratic Party’s “red to blue” campaign lists the district in its efforts as well but has not found a candidate to support yet.</p> <p>In the other direction, in early February 2017 the National Republican Congressional Committee released it’s Democratic targets for the 2018 elections. The list contained references to two New York Democrats: Tom Suozzi, who represents Congressional District 3 in the north and western portion of Nassau County, Long Island and Sean Patrick Maloney, who represents the 18th Congressional District containing Poughkeepsie, Woodbury, and Newburgh.</p> <p>Aside from the Grimm-Donovan primary, there may be a handful of other intraparty challenges to sitting representatives worth watching. Rep. Joe Crowley of Queens, for example, is being challenged from the left by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. While Ocasio-Cortez faces very long odds, she may be able to at least make Crowley pay more attention to his home district than his larger ambitions and agenda.</p> <p><strong>2018 State-Level Elections in New York</strong><br /> As mentioned, 2018 is an election year for the four state-level statewide positions of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and Comptroller. All four posts are held by Democrats expected to seek another term.</p> <p>Governor Cuomo was first elected to the position in 2010 and won reelection in 2014. While Bob Duffy was Cuomo’s first-term Lieutenant Governor, he declined to run for reelection in 2014 and Cuomo chose Kathy Hochul as his running mate. She has said she is running again. Candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor can run as a slate, but they are elected separately in party primaries, then together in the general election. Cuomo and Hochul may have to each survive Democratic primary challengers before they can rejoin as a ticket for the general election.</p> <p>The Lieutenant Governor’s role is similar to the Vice President of the United States. The LG is President of the State Senate and acts as Governor in the Governor’s absence from the state, in the case of severe disability, death, impeachment, or resignation from office. Otherwise it is a largely ceremonial position often seen as a cheerleader for the governor and the administration’s policies. Hochul often represents the Cuomo administration at events across the state, and has taken the lead on certain issues, such as co-chairing a recent task force put together by Cuomo on women’s opportunity.</p> <p>It is unclear who Republicans will nominate for Governor and Lieutenant Governor, but GOP leadership has indicated it wants to avoid a primary. Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb has launched a gubernatorial campaign on the Republican side. Meanwhile, several minor parties will also put forward candidates. Democratic challengers to Cuomo and Hochul have begun to emerge, with former State Senator Terry Gibson aggressively testing the gubernatorial waters and New York City Council Member Jumaane Williams opening an exploratory committee to run for LG.</p> <p>New York State’s Attorney General is also up for election in 2018. Eric Schneiderman first won election to the office of Attorney General in 2010. He would go on to win reelection in 2014. The Attorney General will be running for his third term in 2018 should he seek reelection. Schneiderman has been in the news a lot lately for his frequent lawsuits on behalf of New York against the Trump Administration and its policies.</p> <p>Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is also expected to run for reelection this year. Dinapoli was first appointed to the position in 2007 after the resignation of Alan Hevesi. He would go on to win election to the Comptroller’s Office in 2010 and 2014. The Comptroller is tasked with managing the state’s enormous pension fund, auditing state agencies and local governments, and reviewing state and local budgets.</p> <p>All 63 seats in the state Senate will be on the ballot this fall. Unlike the Assembly, control of the Senate will be at stake, with several swing districts at play. There is currently a complicated and contentious breakdown of power in the Senate, where Republicans hold 31 seats, but have a majority because of nine Democrats -- Brooklyn Senator Simcha Felder conferences with the GOP while the eight-member Independent Democratic Conference forms a ruling coalition with that Republican conference.</p> <p>Mainline and Independent Democrats reached a tentative deal in late 2017 to begin to work together in the State Senate, but only on a number of conditions, including winning the two special elections for currently vacant seats. The empty seat in the Bronx is all but a lock, while the empty Westchester seat will be closer to a toss-up. Felder’s status is not completely clear in terms of what he will do -- he has always maintained he’ll take the best deal for him and his constituents.</p> <p>Complicating things is grassroots anger at members of the IDC, whereby several if not all IDC members will be facing primary challenges. IDC Leader Jeff Klein of the Bronx (SD34), Jesse Hamilton of Brooklyn (SD20), Jose Peralta of Queens (SD13), and Marisol Alcantara of Manhattan (SD31) are among those members already facing primary challenges.</p> <p>Meanwhile, there are somewhere around a half-dozen swing districts to watch outside New York City, and one potential swing district within the five boroughs -- the Brooklyn seat currently held by Senator Martin Golden. The expected Democratic wave could lead to several seats switching hands, though local races can turn on different issues and long-time incumbents like Golden can be very difficult to beat. Districts on Long Island and in the suburbs just north of New York City are often more likely to change hands, while New York City and other large cities around the state are overwhelmingly represented by Democrats and upstate areas outside of other major cities are heavily Republican.</p> <p>All 150 state Assembly seats are up for election in 2018. The chamber is heavily Democratic, with a current partisan split of 103 Democrats, 37 Republicans, one Independence Party member, and the nine vacancies.</p> <p>With all that is happening in other races, especially those for Governor and in key House and state Senate swing districts, there will likely be little attention paid to most Assembly races this year.</p> <p>There will be other local elections in 2018, including local school board and trial court judicial elections, among others.</p> <p>

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by Matthew Sweeney, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/26473316189_c59edbb89b_z.jpg" alt="election polling place Brooklyn" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>a polling place (photo: Samar Khurshid/Gotham Gazette)</p> <hr /> <p>This year will be another busy, contentious election year for New Yorkers. While 2017 saw the majority of elections confined to local government, 2018 will see three election days and races for state-level offices, including five of six statewide positions and all of the state Legislature, and all of the state’s delegation to the House of Representatives.</p> <p>A fourth election day may occur in some districts if Governor Andrew Cuomo calls a special election to fill 11 currently vacant state Senate and Assembly seats before the regularly-scheduled votes this fall. Cuomo could have called the special election as early as January 1 but has waited to do so, leaving those 11 districts with less than full representation.</p> <p>Aside from those potential special elections and depending on political party affiliation, New Yorkers will be able to vote in the federal primaries on June 26; the state primaries on September 11; and Election Day November 6. Only those registered with a party can vote in party primaries in New York, but the November general elections are open to all registered voters. So-called “independent” voters -- those registered to vote but not with a party -- cannot participate in party primaries, nor can those registered with parties wherein primaries are not being decided.</p> <p>In 2016 there was an unsuccessful push to combine the congressional and state primaries to a single date, which ensured four election days given it was a presidential year and that primary was in April. There is a good chance there will be a similar push this year to combine primary dates, but while Democrats have sought to move the state primaries to June, Republicans have suggested an August date, leaving the sides at an impasse.</p> <p>Along with all the 27 New York House seats, which are elected every two years, one of New York’s two United State Senate seats, elected every six years, is on the ballot this year -- the one currently held by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. At the state government level, the four statewide posts of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and Comptroller are all on the ballot in their four-year cycle, as well as the every-two-year elections of all 150 seats in the state Assembly and all 63 seats in the state Senate.</p> <p>In New York, this year’s deadlines for candidates to file for federal office is April 12 and for state offices, July 12.</p> <p>Another macro issue to watch ahead of this year’s elections is voting reform in New York. There is an ongoing push to see early voting passed, among other reforms like same-day registration and no-excuse absentee voting. While Cuomo, a Democrat, and the Democrat-controlled Assembly support such reforms, Republicans who control the state Senate do not.</p> <p><strong>2018 Federal Elections in New York</strong><br /> While Gillibrand is up for reelection this year, New York’s other U.S. Senator, Charles Schumer, won reelection in 2016 and won’t be on the ballot again until 2022. Gillibrand served in the House of Representatives from 2007 to 2009 before being appointed to the Senate in 2009, and winning a special election in 2010, to fill Hillary Clinton’s vacant seat when she was appointed Secretary of State. Gillibrand went on to win the regularly-scheduled 2012 election for the seat as well and is now running for her second full term as a senator. She is rumored as a possible 2020 presidential candidate. It is unclear who Republicans will run against her this year in New York.</p> <p>In the House, New York and national Democrats are eyeing several seats to help flip control of the chamber through the 2018 elections. As of January 2018, the House is composed of 238 Republicans and 193 Democrats, with 4 vacancies.</p> <p>Given Republican President Donald Trump’s record unpopularity, which is especially acute in his home state of New York; recent Democratic electoral wins in New York and elsewhere; and historical trends whereby a new president’s party loses congressional seats in the midterm elections, many are expecting a Democratic wave in 2018, with the potential for flipping the House and possibly the Senate.</p> <p>Democrats’ “red to blue” campaign across the country will include multiple New York districts while local party activists may target others. Governor Cuomo, himself seeking a third term this year, has promised a campaign to flip six New York House seats after their officeholders have supported legislation Cuomo deems detrimental to New York. Cuomo joined House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats at a June 2017 rally in Manhattan to kick off a campaign to unseat Reps. Lee Zeldin (CD1), Chris Collins (CD27), John Faso (CD19), Elise Stefanik (CD21), Claudia Tenney (CD22), and Tom Reed (CD23).</p> <p>The national Democratic Party is currently <a href="https://redtoblue.dccc.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">prioritizing</a> two of those New York Congressional Districts, the 11th and the 22nd. Rep. Donovan currently represents the 11th, which includes all of Staten Island and some of Brooklyn. Max Rose is seen as the Democrats’ best chance to unseat Donovan in November, though Donovan also must first survivie a primary challenge by former Rep. Michael Grimm, who resigned from Congress after pleading guilty to tax evasion charges. Rep. Tenney represents the 22nd, sitting just east of Syracuse and including Binghamton, Cortland, and Utica, and the Democratic Party is apparently behind Anthony Brindisi, a state Assembly member.</p> <p>New York’s 19th Congressional District, currently represented by Faso, is expected to be a toss up. Faso won a hotly contested 2016 race against Democrat Zephyr Teachout. The Hudson Valley seat is likely to again be home to a great deal of political spending.</p> <p>The 24th Congressional District may also be home to a strong challenge to a sitting Republican. Syracuse’s recently-former mayor Stephanie Miner, a Democrat, has hinted at potentially challenging current Rep. Katko. The Democratic Party’s “red to blue” campaign lists the district in its efforts as well but has not found a candidate to support yet.</p> <p>In the other direction, in early February 2017 the National Republican Congressional Committee released it’s Democratic targets for the 2018 elections. The list contained references to two New York Democrats: Tom Suozzi, who represents Congressional District 3 in the north and western portion of Nassau County, Long Island and Sean Patrick Maloney, who represents the 18th Congressional District containing Poughkeepsie, Woodbury, and Newburgh.</p> <p>Aside from the Grimm-Donovan primary, there may be a handful of other intraparty challenges to sitting representatives worth watching. Rep. Joe Crowley of Queens, for example, is being challenged from the left by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. While Ocasio-Cortez faces very long odds, she may be able to at least make Crowley pay more attention to his home district than his larger ambitions and agenda.</p> <p><strong>2018 State-Level Elections in New York</strong><br /> As mentioned, 2018 is an election year for the four state-level statewide positions of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and Comptroller. All four posts are held by Democrats expected to seek another term.</p> <p>Governor Cuomo was first elected to the position in 2010 and won reelection in 2014. While Bob Duffy was Cuomo’s first-term Lieutenant Governor, he declined to run for reelection in 2014 and Cuomo chose Kathy Hochul as his running mate. She has said she is running again. Candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor can run as a slate, but they are elected separately in party primaries, then together in the general election. Cuomo and Hochul may have to each survive Democratic primary challengers before they can rejoin as a ticket for the general election.</p> <p>The Lieutenant Governor’s role is similar to the Vice President of the United States. The LG is President of the State Senate and acts as Governor in the Governor’s absence from the state, in the case of severe disability, death, impeachment, or resignation from office. Otherwise it is a largely ceremonial position often seen as a cheerleader for the governor and the administration’s policies. Hochul often represents the Cuomo administration at events across the state, and has taken the lead on certain issues, such as co-chairing a recent task force put together by Cuomo on women’s opportunity.</p> <p>It is unclear who Republicans will nominate for Governor and Lieutenant Governor, but GOP leadership has indicated it wants to avoid a primary. Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb has launched a gubernatorial campaign on the Republican side. Meanwhile, several minor parties will also put forward candidates. Democratic challengers to Cuomo and Hochul have begun to emerge, with former State Senator Terry Gibson aggressively testing the gubernatorial waters and New York City Council Member Jumaane Williams opening an exploratory committee to run for LG.</p> <p>New York State’s Attorney General is also up for election in 2018. Eric Schneiderman first won election to the office of Attorney General in 2010. He would go on to win reelection in 2014. The Attorney General will be running for his third term in 2018 should he seek reelection. Schneiderman has been in the news a lot lately for his frequent lawsuits on behalf of New York against the Trump Administration and its policies.</p> <p>Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is also expected to run for reelection this year. Dinapoli was first appointed to the position in 2007 after the resignation of Alan Hevesi. He would go on to win election to the Comptroller’s Office in 2010 and 2014. The Comptroller is tasked with managing the state’s enormous pension fund, auditing state agencies and local governments, and reviewing state and local budgets.</p> <p>All 63 seats in the state Senate will be on the ballot this fall. Unlike the Assembly, control of the Senate will be at stake, with several swing districts at play. There is currently a complicated and contentious breakdown of power in the Senate, where Republicans hold 31 seats, but have a majority because of nine Democrats -- Brooklyn Senator Simcha Felder conferences with the GOP while the eight-member Independent Democratic Conference forms a ruling coalition with that Republican conference.</p> <p>Mainline and Independent Democrats reached a tentative deal in late 2017 to begin to work together in the State Senate, but only on a number of conditions, including winning the two special elections for currently vacant seats. The empty seat in the Bronx is all but a lock, while the empty Westchester seat will be closer to a toss-up. Felder’s status is not completely clear in terms of what he will do -- he has always maintained he’ll take the best deal for him and his constituents.</p> <p>Complicating things is grassroots anger at members of the IDC, whereby several if not all IDC members will be facing primary challenges. IDC Leader Jeff Klein of the Bronx (SD34), Jesse Hamilton of Brooklyn (SD20), Jose Peralta of Queens (SD13), and Marisol Alcantara of Manhattan (SD31) are among those members already facing primary challenges.</p> <p>Meanwhile, there are somewhere around a half-dozen swing districts to watch outside New York City, and one potential swing district within the five boroughs -- the Brooklyn seat currently held by Senator Martin Golden. The expected Democratic wave could lead to several seats switching hands, though local races can turn on different issues and long-time incumbents like Golden can be very difficult to beat. Districts on Long Island and in the suburbs just north of New York City are often more likely to change hands, while New York City and other large cities around the state are overwhelmingly represented by Democrats and upstate areas outside of other major cities are heavily Republican.</p> <p>All 150 state Assembly seats are up for election in 2018. The chamber is heavily Democratic, with a current partisan split of 103 Democrats, 37 Republicans, one Independence Party member, and the nine vacancies.</p> <p>With all that is happening in other races, especially those for Governor and in key House and state Senate swing districts, there will likely be little attention paid to most Assembly races this year.</p> <p>There will be other local elections in 2018, including local school board and trial court judicial elections, among others.</p> <p>

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by Matthew Sweeney, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
City Council Member Jumaane Williams to Explore Run for Lieutenant Governor 2018-01-15T05:00:00+00:00 2018-01-15T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7422:city-council-member-jumaane-williams-to-explore-run-for-lieutenant-governor Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/jumaane_speaking_nyccouncil.jpg" alt="Jumaane Williams city council" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>City Council Member Jumaane Williams (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)</p> <hr /> <p>At the end of stirring and emotional remarks on Martin Luther King Day, City Council Member Jumaane Williams announced that he is exploring a run for Lieutenant Governor. Williams, who was just re-elected to a third Council term and was unsuccessful in his pursuit of the speakership of the city’s legislative body, gave the keynote address at Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Brooklyn on Monday, passionately discussing the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and explaining how it informs his activism, legislating, and possible pursuit of the state-wide position that is on the ballot this fall.</p> <p>In order to become Lieutenant Governor, Williams would likely first have to prevail in the Democratic primary over incumbent Kathy Hochul, who ran on the 2014 ticket with Governor Andrew Cuomo. While Hochul is expected to again be Cuomo’s running mate, the positions of Lieutenant Governor and Governor are elected separately by statewide popular vote in the primary. If victorious in the primary, Williams and Cuomo, assuming he wins any Democratic primary he faces, would run as a connected ticket in the general election.</p> <p>During his Monday remarks, Williams spoke broadly about civil rights, injustice, protest, and making government respond to the people, and made some mention of the apparent reasons he is exploring a run for the statewide post that comes with minimal statutory power and a relatively small budget. The campaign for Lieutenant Governor and holding the position if victorious would give Williams a bully pulpit to shape statewide public discourse and have some effect on policy. Most immediately, he could create significant headaches for Hochul and Cuomo, whom Williams has been critical of over the past several years on issues like affordable housing, transportation, and criminal justice.</p> <p>Williams said when reflecting on King’s legacy, he often thinks about the saying, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” He discussed the importance of agitating for what is morally right, no matter the political ramifications, and how public protest moves government to act.</p> <p>It takes a great deal of “energy,” more than people realize, to “move the needle,” Williams explained. “You move the needle with moral disruption to a status quo that is unjust.”</p> <p>“Government does not move unless we make it move. They respond to protest,” Williams said. “I understand that because I’m in those halls seeing how my colleagues respond.”</p> <p>Before announcing that he was forming “an exploratory committee” to possibly run for Lieutenant Governor, Williams pointed to some of the problems around the state that appear to be motivating his exploration. He said “we need people in government who will continue to push forward on progress” and cited “homelessness in New York City, housing in Rochester, gun violence in Brooklyn, gun violence in Syracuse, the relief of opioid crisis in Staten Island,” and more, adding, “these issues are not unique to one area.”</p> <p>Williams said his job on the inside of government is to make sure his colleagues are moving on what people are bringing to their attention and what is “morally correct.”</p> <p>“We need leaders will forcefully advocate for progress no matter the political winds,” Williams said, in one of several references to doing what is right over what is politically expedient.</p> <p>Williams also discussed the “need for diversity in government,” echoing an argument he made during the City Council speaker race, when he insisted a person of color should be elected to the role. Williams is black. Corey Johnson, a white man, prevailed.</p> <p>On Monday, Williams listed the many city, state, and federal offices in New York that are held by white people, a list that includes Cuomo and Hochul.</p> <p>A challenge to Hochul by Williams would be from the left, as he would almost certainly offer a more progressive platform on the whole, and he would likely aim much of his fire at Cuomo. It is unclear who might challenge the governor from the left, but there is a good deal of unrest among progressives who see Cuomo as too centrist and enabling of a Republican-led state Senate. Williams endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary.</p> <p>Former state Senator Terry Gibson appears to be the only Democrat currently actively exploring a gubernatorial bid. Like Williams, Gibson has a state-level campaign account open. Now a professor at SUNY New Paltz, Gibson has been traveling the state meeting with progressive groups, spending a lot of time in the five boroughs, and trying to gauge how much initial support he can garner for a full-fledged run.</p> <p>There are other potential challengers from Cuomo’s left, including former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner and actor and education activist Cynthia Nixon.</p> <p>In 2014, Cuomo sought a second term and had to fend off a surprising challenge from Zephyr Teachout, a little-known, underfunded professor who embarrassed Cuomo by winning 34 percent of the primary vote. Teachout’s running mate, Lieutenant Governor candidate Tim Wu, did even better against Hochul, who was running for the post for the first time, winning 40 percent to Hochul’s 60.</p> <p>Williams is likely to be at a significant financial disadvantage to Hochul, depending on how much money he can raise and how much Cuomo and his political apparatus come to Hochul’s aid. Williams’ ability to win votes in New York City could pose a major challenge to Hochul, who is from western New York. Williams’ potential candidacy is quickly going to put other Democrats like new City Council Speaker Johnson and Mayor Bill de Blasio in tricky positions. De Blasio recently declined to give an opinion when Gotham Gazette asked him if Cuomo deserved to be challenged from the left.</p> <p>On Monday, Williams did not get into any details of a potential campaign, though he will have to decide relatively soon if he is going to make a full run for the position. The Council member explained that he sees his role as “a molder of consensus” like King and part of ruckus upsetting the status quo. Williams credited King for being a “disruptive, righteous agitator” and discussed the need to put in the work of activism to make the change you believe must occur in the world.</p> <p>“If you don’t understand the protests of today, I suggest you keep ‘Martin Luther King’ from out of your lips,” Williams said at one point.</p> <p>He cited King’s “fierce urgency of now,” and asked the church crowd to think about why society is still struggling in 2018 with the same major problems of King’s era, the 1950s and ‘60s, such as jobs, police abuses, and justice. He cited some progress, noting that there are not segregated water fountains and there are fewer lynchings.</p> <p>Williams explained that he has tried to do what he can as a member of the City Council, and now believes that he may be able to take on new challenges and “do more” through the potential run for Lieutenant Governor.</p> <p>Notably, the Council member clearly stated his support for LGBTQ individuals, which has been a point of contention for him as he has personally held views against marriage equality. Williams has also held a personal view against abortion, citing personal experience. But, he has repeatedly tried to argue that he does not legislate or vote to advance those personal beliefs and taken steps to show that he supports the LGBT community and women’s reproductive rights. The issues could be at the center of attacks from Hochul and Cuomo toward Williams, given that Cuomo has prided himself on passing marriage equality in New York and touts himself as a champion of women’s rights.</p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note: this article has been corrected to clarify that the Governor and Lieutenant Governor run as a Democratic ticket in the general election, but are elected separately in the party primary.</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/jumaane_speaking_nyccouncil.jpg" alt="Jumaane Williams city council" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>City Council Member Jumaane Williams (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)</p> <hr /> <p>At the end of stirring and emotional remarks on Martin Luther King Day, City Council Member Jumaane Williams announced that he is exploring a run for Lieutenant Governor. Williams, who was just re-elected to a third Council term and was unsuccessful in his pursuit of the speakership of the city’s legislative body, gave the keynote address at Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Brooklyn on Monday, passionately discussing the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and explaining how it informs his activism, legislating, and possible pursuit of the state-wide position that is on the ballot this fall.</p> <p>In order to become Lieutenant Governor, Williams would likely first have to prevail in the Democratic primary over incumbent Kathy Hochul, who ran on the 2014 ticket with Governor Andrew Cuomo. While Hochul is expected to again be Cuomo’s running mate, the positions of Lieutenant Governor and Governor are elected separately by statewide popular vote in the primary. If victorious in the primary, Williams and Cuomo, assuming he wins any Democratic primary he faces, would run as a connected ticket in the general election.</p> <p>During his Monday remarks, Williams spoke broadly about civil rights, injustice, protest, and making government respond to the people, and made some mention of the apparent reasons he is exploring a run for the statewide post that comes with minimal statutory power and a relatively small budget. The campaign for Lieutenant Governor and holding the position if victorious would give Williams a bully pulpit to shape statewide public discourse and have some effect on policy. Most immediately, he could create significant headaches for Hochul and Cuomo, whom Williams has been critical of over the past several years on issues like affordable housing, transportation, and criminal justice.</p> <p>Williams said when reflecting on King’s legacy, he often thinks about the saying, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” He discussed the importance of agitating for what is morally right, no matter the political ramifications, and how public protest moves government to act.</p> <p>It takes a great deal of “energy,” more than people realize, to “move the needle,” Williams explained. “You move the needle with moral disruption to a status quo that is unjust.”</p> <p>“Government does not move unless we make it move. They respond to protest,” Williams said. “I understand that because I’m in those halls seeing how my colleagues respond.”</p> <p>Before announcing that he was forming “an exploratory committee” to possibly run for Lieutenant Governor, Williams pointed to some of the problems around the state that appear to be motivating his exploration. He said “we need people in government who will continue to push forward on progress” and cited “homelessness in New York City, housing in Rochester, gun violence in Brooklyn, gun violence in Syracuse, the relief of opioid crisis in Staten Island,” and more, adding, “these issues are not unique to one area.”</p> <p>Williams said his job on the inside of government is to make sure his colleagues are moving on what people are bringing to their attention and what is “morally correct.”</p> <p>“We need leaders will forcefully advocate for progress no matter the political winds,” Williams said, in one of several references to doing what is right over what is politically expedient.</p> <p>Williams also discussed the “need for diversity in government,” echoing an argument he made during the City Council speaker race, when he insisted a person of color should be elected to the role. Williams is black. Corey Johnson, a white man, prevailed.</p> <p>On Monday, Williams listed the many city, state, and federal offices in New York that are held by white people, a list that includes Cuomo and Hochul.</p> <p>A challenge to Hochul by Williams would be from the left, as he would almost certainly offer a more progressive platform on the whole, and he would likely aim much of his fire at Cuomo. It is unclear who might challenge the governor from the left, but there is a good deal of unrest among progressives who see Cuomo as too centrist and enabling of a Republican-led state Senate. Williams endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary.</p> <p>Former state Senator Terry Gibson appears to be the only Democrat currently actively exploring a gubernatorial bid. Like Williams, Gibson has a state-level campaign account open. Now a professor at SUNY New Paltz, Gibson has been traveling the state meeting with progressive groups, spending a lot of time in the five boroughs, and trying to gauge how much initial support he can garner for a full-fledged run.</p> <p>There are other potential challengers from Cuomo’s left, including former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner and actor and education activist Cynthia Nixon.</p> <p>In 2014, Cuomo sought a second term and had to fend off a surprising challenge from Zephyr Teachout, a little-known, underfunded professor who embarrassed Cuomo by winning 34 percent of the primary vote. Teachout’s running mate, Lieutenant Governor candidate Tim Wu, did even better against Hochul, who was running for the post for the first time, winning 40 percent to Hochul’s 60.</p> <p>Williams is likely to be at a significant financial disadvantage to Hochul, depending on how much money he can raise and how much Cuomo and his political apparatus come to Hochul’s aid. Williams’ ability to win votes in New York City could pose a major challenge to Hochul, who is from western New York. Williams’ potential candidacy is quickly going to put other Democrats like new City Council Speaker Johnson and Mayor Bill de Blasio in tricky positions. De Blasio recently declined to give an opinion when Gotham Gazette asked him if Cuomo deserved to be challenged from the left.</p> <p>On Monday, Williams did not get into any details of a potential campaign, though he will have to decide relatively soon if he is going to make a full run for the position. The Council member explained that he sees his role as “a molder of consensus” like King and part of ruckus upsetting the status quo. Williams credited King for being a “disruptive, righteous agitator” and discussed the need to put in the work of activism to make the change you believe must occur in the world.</p> <p>“If you don’t understand the protests of today, I suggest you keep ‘Martin Luther King’ from out of your lips,” Williams said at one point.</p> <p>He cited King’s “fierce urgency of now,” and asked the church crowd to think about why society is still struggling in 2018 with the same major problems of King’s era, the 1950s and ‘60s, such as jobs, police abuses, and justice. He cited some progress, noting that there are not segregated water fountains and there are fewer lynchings.</p> <p>Williams explained that he has tried to do what he can as a member of the City Council, and now believes that he may be able to take on new challenges and “do more” through the potential run for Lieutenant Governor.</p> <p>Notably, the Council member clearly stated his support for LGBTQ individuals, which has been a point of contention for him as he has personally held views against marriage equality. Williams has also held a personal view against abortion, citing personal experience. But, he has repeatedly tried to argue that he does not legislate or vote to advance those personal beliefs and taken steps to show that he supports the LGBT community and women’s reproductive rights. The issues could be at the center of attacks from Hochul and Cuomo toward Williams, given that Cuomo has prided himself on passing marriage equality in New York and touts himself as a champion of women’s rights.</p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note: this article has been corrected to clarify that the Governor and Lieutenant Governor run as a Democratic ticket in the general election, but are elected separately in the party primary.</p>
Many Election Poll Workers are Placed by Party Machines, Some May Influence Votes 2017-12-18T05:00:00+00:00 2017-12-18T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7374:many-election-poll-workers-are-placed-by-party-machines-some-may-influence-votes Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/poll_site_samar_photo.jpg" alt="poll site samar photo" width="600" /></p> <p>photo by Samar Khurshid/Gotham Gazette</p> <hr /> <p>With a 16-hour workday, compensation at $200, and the monotony of sitting in what is often a stifling, public-school gymnasium, New York City’s tens of thousands of election poll workers have a largely thankless job.</p> <p>Mobilized only a few days most years, they are often retired or semi-retired. While unheralded, they are the frontline for the New York City Board of Elections (BOE), which, as governed by state law, is responsible for registering voters, maintaining voter records, and operating poll site locations throughout the five boroughs.</p> <p>Many, motivated by civic duty, extra income, or both, apply directly via mail or through the city BOE website. However, a substantial portion of poll workers receive their positions through recommendations from local Democratic and Republican leaders, chosen before the BOE dips into the general application pool. The parties also nominate the commissioners to the city Board of Elections, one Democrat and one Republican per borough, and each borough has a satellite operation for election administration.</p> <p>The injection of political partisanship into the cogs of the electoral process, especially in the wake of <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7296-ahead-of-election-day-comptroller-audit-highlights-board-of-elections-dysfunction" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a critical audit of the BOE by the city’s Comptroller’s office</a>, has come under increased scrutiny in 2016 and 2017, both years seeing a bevy of election activity in New York.</p> <p>Some City Council candidates and campaign staffers allege that the influence of local party leaders in hiring and placing poll workers can advantage those backed by county leadership. Benefits range from having sympathetic eyes in polling sites to—at boldest—an extra set of hands to electioneer on election days, influencing votes as they are cast.</p> <p>The current system is “a cocktail of corruption that’s impossible for these people to not get drunk on,” concluded an experienced Democratic political operative who has worked on high-profile issues and campaigns and wished to remain anonymous for fear of impacting his political career.</p> <p>“To my knowledge, I know there is a history of local poll workers affiliated with campaigns being placed in specific polling sites,” said Brian Cunningham, a City Council candidate in Brooklyn’s District 40 who is currently <a href="https://citylimits.org/2017/11/09/challenger-in-brooklyn-council-race-vows-legal-action-over-alleged-polling-irregularities/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">pursuing legal action after reports of irregularities at polling sites</a> across his district, where incumbent Mathieu Eugene won a third term in November and is alleged to have illegally been in several polling places on Election Day.</p> <p>While a few dozen corrupted votes would not typically change the outcome of an election, they would cast a pall over the voting process and can impact contests decided by small margins. For example, Elizabeth Crowley, a Democratic incumbent in Queens District 30, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/16/nyregion/nyc-council-holden-crowley.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">lost her City Council seat to Republican Robert F. Holden</a> in the November general election by just 137 votes.</p> <p>Despite concern from several experienced political operatives and recent City Council candidates, Democratic Party officials from Manhattan and Brooklyn argue that widespread allegations of poll workers influencing elections are overblown.</p> <p>Meanwhile, some candidates have reported no knowledge of what others allege is common practice. “[This] is not a claim that I can neither confirm nor deny," said Deidre Olivera, an unsuccessful 2017 Democratic City Council candidate in District 41, in an email to Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>Although sources did not provide hard evidence of candidate campaigns or local party leaders deliberately influencing elections through the recommendation of partisan poll workers, the spectre of compromised poll sites adds further fuel to the fire for reformers calling for a wholesale revamp of state election law, including the structure and practices of the state and city BOE.</p> <p><strong>A Partisan Hiring Process</strong><br /> The BOE is crafted along partisan lines in order to guarantee impartiality, or at least opposing partialities. In New York City, this partisan structure extends from executive leadership through mid-level staff, spreading its roots into how poll workers are found and hired.</p> <p>According to conversations with Michael Ryan, the executive director of the city BOE, and political insiders, poll workers are either recruited based on applications sent directly to the BOE or they are selected by the local Democratic or Republican parties. Party-selected poll workers are chosen by district leaders, or <a href="https://citylimits.org/2017/09/01/term-limited-council-speaker-faces-one-more-election-race-for-district-leader/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">local party officials from state Assembly districts</a>.</p> <p>Poll workers nominated by district leaders are always chosen before workers culled from the general application pool. The BOE, according to state law, cannot question the credentials of workers forwarded to them by district leaders, explained Ryan, the executive director. “It’s up to the local party’s discretion who they want to designate and it’s not for us to question,” he added. Ryan’s position is an administrative hire made by the BOE board, meant to be a nonpartisan leader for BOE operations. &nbsp;</p> <p>The district leaders also have sway over which poll workers are placed where. “From having seen this from the very most ground level, the district leaders have the most influence in recommending where to assign a poll worker the BOE has already hired,” said Barry Weinberg, executive director for the Manhattan Democratic Party.</p> <p>Adding to the control Democratic party officials have over the assignment of poll workers is a quirk of staffing process called, per Ryan, “cross-designation.” The vast majority of poll sites need an equal number of Republicans and Democratic poll workers manning them. When poll sites are lacking enough Democrats or Republicans, the BOE asks “individuals who might be registered in a different political party to take an oath as a poll worker or inspector for the party with a shortfall,” said Ryan.</p> <p>Ryan confirmed that, given the outsized number of Democrats compared to Republicans in New York City, usually Democrats “cross-designate” as Republicans.</p> <p><strong>“Aren’t at Least the Optics Bad?”</strong><br /> The poll-worker and election-administration processes seem flawed to many political candidates, including Randy Abreu, a 2017 Democratic City Council candidate in District 14 in the Bronx.</p> <p>After the September primaries, Abreu cried foul after receiving multiple tips from friends, supporters, and voters of problems in the polls across his district, <a href="http://riverdalepress.com/stories/former-council-candidate-cries-foul-after-primaries,63619" target="_blank" rel="noopener">reported The Riverdale Press</a>.</p> <p>These included rumors that poll workers were electioneering for his opponent, incumbent Fernando Cabrera. In comments given to The Riverdale Press, Abreu said, “The incumbent’s campaign workers are picking the poll site workers. Aren’t at least the optics bad?”</p> <p>In an interview with Gotham Gazette, he elaborated. “My male district leader was my opponent’s campaign manager. The district leaders, if they have a relationship [with a candidate], it’s human nature they’re going to appoint friendly people on election day in the poll sites,” Abreu said.</p> <p>Another former City Council candidate in the Bronx—who asked to remain anonymous for fear of negative repercussions to their political career—not only echoed Abreu’s suspicions, but stated that the process is common knowledge among political insiders. "A lot of folks know that if you're with county [party] support that your major polls will be covered because you have supporters working them," the candidate said by phone to Gotham Gazette. “On the campaign trail, folks would warn me they have folks that point out who to vote for and keep an eye on the polling sites.”</p> <p>Whispers were not limited to the Bronx. In Manhattan, Ronnie Cho and Jasmin Sanchez, two Democratic City Council candidates in District 2, were also surprised by the appearance of other candidates’ supporters in the polls during primary day. The party establishment’s favored candidate was Carlina Rivera, an aide to the outgoing, term-limited Council Member, Rosie Mendez, who won the primary and general elections by wide margins.</p> <p>When asked in an interview whether he was aware of campaigns placing their supporters within poll sites, Cho responded that this “is a common practice that many campaigns employ.”</p> <p>Sanchez observed that most people working the polls in her district were affiliated with political clubs and organizations, which endorse candidates. “Everyone I know that has worked the poll sites are connected to political organizations and nonprofits,” she said.</p> <p>“The appearance can seem a little bit awkward,” said Cho, in regards to the supposed impartiality of polling sites.</p> <p><strong>Polling the Campaign Staffers</strong><br /> Although multiple City Council candidates were aware of these concerns, none could provide detailed accounts of poll site manipulation.</p> <p>Campaign staffers who spoke with Gotham Gazette similarly provided no specific accusations. However, they either thought the allegations were credible or directly confirmed the existence of the phenomenon. All requested anonymity for fear of causing damage to their careers or receiving political retribution.</p> <p>“In my experience uptown in Manhattan, we frequently found that the county party selected poll workers for our Spanish speaking community that had no ability to translate, compounded with the BOE not providing translators at many busy poll sites,” said a former City Council aide who has also worked on a number of campaigns for candidates opposing the party establishment. “I can't speak with certainty to poll site workers openly supporting candidates, but it certainly felt like [it].”</p> <p>Others directly attested that campaigns backed by the party enjoyed the benefits of supporters working the polls.</p> <p>“The short answer is yes, yes, yes, yes,” said a political staffer who has also worked on multiple uptown campaigns in an email to Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>A different, experienced Democratic political operative who has worked on high-profile issues and campaigns confirmed poll site manipulation with similar enthusiasm: “Yes, and Santa Claus is not real. This is something I’ve witnessed firsthand,” the operative said.</p> <p>“I mean, look, it’s a political process. Generally speaking, in your average election it doesn’t impact the final outcome,” the same operative said in a phone interview. “It only matters for campaigns that are explicitly and intensely supported by the party boss.”</p> <p>For most campaigns, having poll sites manned by supporters is understood to be an implicit advantage, he explained. In fact, he said the practice has benefitted his own career, but that the relevant campaigns “never explicitly” coordinated with the local Democratic Party.</p> <p>Another experienced campaign staffer in Queens explicitly corroborated these allegations, expressing surprise that he was being questioned about this issue, as he thought it was common knowledge. “In Queens County, this is par for the course,” the campaign staffer said over the phone. “It would be ideal for a campaign to situate affiliated people within the poll sites.”</p> <p>“I’ve been on insurgent campaigns and I’ve had many supporters apply to be poll workers. The incumbent’s team would have had all their spots taken up,” the Queens campaign staffer continued. “The incumbents are the ones that can get it done.”</p> <p>He added that inserted poll workers were often asked to electioneer. “If you want a true representative democracy, this is totally a cluster****,” he declared. “If democracy works well, people like me wouldn’t have a job.”</p> <p><strong>“Definitely Overblown”</strong><br />Despite concerns from candidates and staffers that party-backed campaigns are rejiggering the cogs of the electoral system in their favor, other political insiders—including previous candidates, observers, and party officials—have either never caught wind of this phenomenon or believe the rumors to be nothing more than hot air.</p> <p>Kim Moscaritolo, the female district leader for the 76th Assembly District and a longtime political activist, said that she couldn’t confirm or deny these allegations.</p> <p>Others think these claims, while hypothetically possible, are unlikely. “In theory, that might be true. In my years, I’ve seen very little evidence. I’m skeptical about most allegations of election fraud,” said Jerry Skurnik, partner at consultancy Prime NY, which specializes in election data, and a longtime political aide and observer in New York.</p> <p>And Democratic party officials in Manhattan and Brooklyn adamantly deny that anything more nefarious than the occasional poll site mishap may occur during city elections. Weinberg, of the Manhattan Democratic Committee, said that at least in Manhattan, these allegations of poll worker bias and electioneering are “definitely overblown.” He also expressed faith in the current system. “The laws are written with mistrust. The system is almost designed to be adversarial,” he added.</p> <p>Officials in Brooklyn agreed with Weinberg’s skepticism. In a statement, Bob Liff, spokesman for the Kings County Democratic Party, said, “Some [poll workers] are recommended by political organizations, but a larger percentage come from direct application to the Board of Elections. The bigger problem is finding enough qualified people to staff every election district willing to register with the Board and go through training and work the long hours for the low pay.”</p> <p>According to the BOE, approximately 60% of poll workers are found through general applications and 40% are selected by district leaders. The number of party-designated poll workers forwarded to the BOE has been steadily trending down the past few years, said Ryan, the executive director.</p> <p>“I think that the system is set up as a bipartisan system to prevent abuse. It really is both sides watching each other to make sure that elections are conducted as fairly and squarely as they can be,” stressed Ryan. “While it would be inaccurate to say we never hear of poll workers doing things they’re not supposed to be doing, it would also be inaccurate to say that poll worker misconduct is rampant.”</p> <p>Ryan added that party-backed candidates enjoy widespread advantages not through the manipulation of poll sites, but through the money and campaign experience that party support provides. “The folks that are running and don’t have the party backing, what they’re lacking is the experience of running a campaign, and they’re also lacking access to individuals who have experience running a campaign,” he explained. “That I see is a bigger hurdle for candidates to overcome, more so than what an individual poll worker is doing at a poll site.”</p> <p><strong>Calls to “Professionalize” the BOE</strong><br /> The allegations of partisan poll workers influencing local elections touch on larger efforts to reform the BOE and prevent the Democratic and Republican parties from engaging in what some describe as a system of “patronage.”</p> <p>Last year, the BOE <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/26/nyregion/de-blasio-calls-for-improvements-in-election-process-after-problems-in-presidential-primary.html?_r=0" target="_blank" rel="noopener">purged approximately 125,000 Democratic voters from the voting rolls in Brooklyn</a> without explanation, And after the September 2017 primaries the BOE changed more than 20% of its polling sites since 2016, regularly breaking city law by not posting notices of the changes.</p> <p>"I think the Board of Elections' time has come and gone,” Mayor de Blasio said after the 2017 primaries, as reported by <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/de-blasio-time-rethink-board-elections-model-article-1.3496341" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Daily News</a>. “I think it's time for fundamental change. This model doesn't work, period.”</p> <p>And this past November, city Comptroller Scott Stringer released <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7296-ahead-of-election-day-comptroller-audit-highlights-board-of-elections-dysfunction" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a damning audit of the BOE</a>, reporting that 90% of the 156 poll sites observed during three elections since April 2016 had significant problems—including severe infractions of election law, most notably instances of electioneering by poll workers.</p> <p>Government watchdog groups like Common Cause/NY argue that many of the BOE’s problems stem from employees hired because of party loyalty, not professional competency. “The people who were chosen because they were good treasurers for their local political party may not bring the right skills to the job,” said Susan Lerner, executive director for Common Cause/NY, in an interview. “I have had political operatives, party officials say to me that one of the purposes of the Board of Elections is to provide employment for people who wouldn’t be able to get jobs otherwise.”</p> <p>She argues that the BOE should be “professionalized,” meaning the board’s posts should be filled not through political appointees, but publicly advertised job postings. “We believe that the Board of Elections should be a nonpartisan, professional operation,” said Lerner.</p> <p>When asked if she believes allegations of party-backed candidates inserting their supporters into the polls, she responded, “Yes, absolutely.”</p> <p><strong>Tweak the BOE or Revamp It?</strong><br /> For Michael Ryan and party elites, the BOE needs help, but not wholesale reform. Ryan said that one of the BOE’s biggest challenges right now is finding poll workers willing to work the long hours for low pay. However, these problems are not unique to New York City. He referenced a<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/bipartisan-election-commission-releases-list-of-suggested-fixes/2014/01/22/76902880-8374-11e3-bbe5-6a2a3141e3a9_story.html?utm_term=.d556641d5b59" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> report released in January 2014</a> by the bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration that detailed <a href="http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/page/politics/report-on-the-american-voting-experience/754/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">widespread shortages of poll workers across the country</a>.</p> <p>Weinberg, of the Manhattan Democrats, agreed that finding more poll workers was the most pressing obstacle to well-run elections, suggesting that paying them more money would incentivize more people to apply.</p> <p>However, when asked if the BOE should do away with the current system of district leaders nominating a substantial portion of poll workers, he said no, “they actually need the local, on-the-ground knowledge from District Leaders.”</p> <p>For reformers like Ben Kallos, City Council member for Manhattan’s District 5 and chair of the Council’s government operations committee, the problem is simple. “I don’t believe people should get jobs in government because of who they know,” he said in a phone interview.</p> <p>He urged anyone with allegations of campaigns inserting supporters into poll sites to speak up, including through the city <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/doi/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Department of Investigations</a>. “We’re calling upon them to do their civic duty,” he exhorted.</p> <p>

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by Ben Weiss, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/poll_site_samar_photo.jpg" alt="poll site samar photo" width="600" /></p> <p>photo by Samar Khurshid/Gotham Gazette</p> <hr /> <p>With a 16-hour workday, compensation at $200, and the monotony of sitting in what is often a stifling, public-school gymnasium, New York City’s tens of thousands of election poll workers have a largely thankless job.</p> <p>Mobilized only a few days most years, they are often retired or semi-retired. While unheralded, they are the frontline for the New York City Board of Elections (BOE), which, as governed by state law, is responsible for registering voters, maintaining voter records, and operating poll site locations throughout the five boroughs.</p> <p>Many, motivated by civic duty, extra income, or both, apply directly via mail or through the city BOE website. However, a substantial portion of poll workers receive their positions through recommendations from local Democratic and Republican leaders, chosen before the BOE dips into the general application pool. The parties also nominate the commissioners to the city Board of Elections, one Democrat and one Republican per borough, and each borough has a satellite operation for election administration.</p> <p>The injection of political partisanship into the cogs of the electoral process, especially in the wake of <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7296-ahead-of-election-day-comptroller-audit-highlights-board-of-elections-dysfunction" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a critical audit of the BOE by the city’s Comptroller’s office</a>, has come under increased scrutiny in 2016 and 2017, both years seeing a bevy of election activity in New York.</p> <p>Some City Council candidates and campaign staffers allege that the influence of local party leaders in hiring and placing poll workers can advantage those backed by county leadership. Benefits range from having sympathetic eyes in polling sites to—at boldest—an extra set of hands to electioneer on election days, influencing votes as they are cast.</p> <p>The current system is “a cocktail of corruption that’s impossible for these people to not get drunk on,” concluded an experienced Democratic political operative who has worked on high-profile issues and campaigns and wished to remain anonymous for fear of impacting his political career.</p> <p>“To my knowledge, I know there is a history of local poll workers affiliated with campaigns being placed in specific polling sites,” said Brian Cunningham, a City Council candidate in Brooklyn’s District 40 who is currently <a href="https://citylimits.org/2017/11/09/challenger-in-brooklyn-council-race-vows-legal-action-over-alleged-polling-irregularities/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">pursuing legal action after reports of irregularities at polling sites</a> across his district, where incumbent Mathieu Eugene won a third term in November and is alleged to have illegally been in several polling places on Election Day.</p> <p>While a few dozen corrupted votes would not typically change the outcome of an election, they would cast a pall over the voting process and can impact contests decided by small margins. For example, Elizabeth Crowley, a Democratic incumbent in Queens District 30, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/16/nyregion/nyc-council-holden-crowley.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">lost her City Council seat to Republican Robert F. Holden</a> in the November general election by just 137 votes.</p> <p>Despite concern from several experienced political operatives and recent City Council candidates, Democratic Party officials from Manhattan and Brooklyn argue that widespread allegations of poll workers influencing elections are overblown.</p> <p>Meanwhile, some candidates have reported no knowledge of what others allege is common practice. “[This] is not a claim that I can neither confirm nor deny," said Deidre Olivera, an unsuccessful 2017 Democratic City Council candidate in District 41, in an email to Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>Although sources did not provide hard evidence of candidate campaigns or local party leaders deliberately influencing elections through the recommendation of partisan poll workers, the spectre of compromised poll sites adds further fuel to the fire for reformers calling for a wholesale revamp of state election law, including the structure and practices of the state and city BOE.</p> <p><strong>A Partisan Hiring Process</strong><br /> The BOE is crafted along partisan lines in order to guarantee impartiality, or at least opposing partialities. In New York City, this partisan structure extends from executive leadership through mid-level staff, spreading its roots into how poll workers are found and hired.</p> <p>According to conversations with Michael Ryan, the executive director of the city BOE, and political insiders, poll workers are either recruited based on applications sent directly to the BOE or they are selected by the local Democratic or Republican parties. Party-selected poll workers are chosen by district leaders, or <a href="https://citylimits.org/2017/09/01/term-limited-council-speaker-faces-one-more-election-race-for-district-leader/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">local party officials from state Assembly districts</a>.</p> <p>Poll workers nominated by district leaders are always chosen before workers culled from the general application pool. The BOE, according to state law, cannot question the credentials of workers forwarded to them by district leaders, explained Ryan, the executive director. “It’s up to the local party’s discretion who they want to designate and it’s not for us to question,” he added. Ryan’s position is an administrative hire made by the BOE board, meant to be a nonpartisan leader for BOE operations. &nbsp;</p> <p>The district leaders also have sway over which poll workers are placed where. “From having seen this from the very most ground level, the district leaders have the most influence in recommending where to assign a poll worker the BOE has already hired,” said Barry Weinberg, executive director for the Manhattan Democratic Party.</p> <p>Adding to the control Democratic party officials have over the assignment of poll workers is a quirk of staffing process called, per Ryan, “cross-designation.” The vast majority of poll sites need an equal number of Republicans and Democratic poll workers manning them. When poll sites are lacking enough Democrats or Republicans, the BOE asks “individuals who might be registered in a different political party to take an oath as a poll worker or inspector for the party with a shortfall,” said Ryan.</p> <p>Ryan confirmed that, given the outsized number of Democrats compared to Republicans in New York City, usually Democrats “cross-designate” as Republicans.</p> <p><strong>“Aren’t at Least the Optics Bad?”</strong><br /> The poll-worker and election-administration processes seem flawed to many political candidates, including Randy Abreu, a 2017 Democratic City Council candidate in District 14 in the Bronx.</p> <p>After the September primaries, Abreu cried foul after receiving multiple tips from friends, supporters, and voters of problems in the polls across his district, <a href="http://riverdalepress.com/stories/former-council-candidate-cries-foul-after-primaries,63619" target="_blank" rel="noopener">reported The Riverdale Press</a>.</p> <p>These included rumors that poll workers were electioneering for his opponent, incumbent Fernando Cabrera. In comments given to The Riverdale Press, Abreu said, “The incumbent’s campaign workers are picking the poll site workers. Aren’t at least the optics bad?”</p> <p>In an interview with Gotham Gazette, he elaborated. “My male district leader was my opponent’s campaign manager. The district leaders, if they have a relationship [with a candidate], it’s human nature they’re going to appoint friendly people on election day in the poll sites,” Abreu said.</p> <p>Another former City Council candidate in the Bronx—who asked to remain anonymous for fear of negative repercussions to their political career—not only echoed Abreu’s suspicions, but stated that the process is common knowledge among political insiders. "A lot of folks know that if you're with county [party] support that your major polls will be covered because you have supporters working them," the candidate said by phone to Gotham Gazette. “On the campaign trail, folks would warn me they have folks that point out who to vote for and keep an eye on the polling sites.”</p> <p>Whispers were not limited to the Bronx. In Manhattan, Ronnie Cho and Jasmin Sanchez, two Democratic City Council candidates in District 2, were also surprised by the appearance of other candidates’ supporters in the polls during primary day. The party establishment’s favored candidate was Carlina Rivera, an aide to the outgoing, term-limited Council Member, Rosie Mendez, who won the primary and general elections by wide margins.</p> <p>When asked in an interview whether he was aware of campaigns placing their supporters within poll sites, Cho responded that this “is a common practice that many campaigns employ.”</p> <p>Sanchez observed that most people working the polls in her district were affiliated with political clubs and organizations, which endorse candidates. “Everyone I know that has worked the poll sites are connected to political organizations and nonprofits,” she said.</p> <p>“The appearance can seem a little bit awkward,” said Cho, in regards to the supposed impartiality of polling sites.</p> <p><strong>Polling the Campaign Staffers</strong><br /> Although multiple City Council candidates were aware of these concerns, none could provide detailed accounts of poll site manipulation.</p> <p>Campaign staffers who spoke with Gotham Gazette similarly provided no specific accusations. However, they either thought the allegations were credible or directly confirmed the existence of the phenomenon. All requested anonymity for fear of causing damage to their careers or receiving political retribution.</p> <p>“In my experience uptown in Manhattan, we frequently found that the county party selected poll workers for our Spanish speaking community that had no ability to translate, compounded with the BOE not providing translators at many busy poll sites,” said a former City Council aide who has also worked on a number of campaigns for candidates opposing the party establishment. “I can't speak with certainty to poll site workers openly supporting candidates, but it certainly felt like [it].”</p> <p>Others directly attested that campaigns backed by the party enjoyed the benefits of supporters working the polls.</p> <p>“The short answer is yes, yes, yes, yes,” said a political staffer who has also worked on multiple uptown campaigns in an email to Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>A different, experienced Democratic political operative who has worked on high-profile issues and campaigns confirmed poll site manipulation with similar enthusiasm: “Yes, and Santa Claus is not real. This is something I’ve witnessed firsthand,” the operative said.</p> <p>“I mean, look, it’s a political process. Generally speaking, in your average election it doesn’t impact the final outcome,” the same operative said in a phone interview. “It only matters for campaigns that are explicitly and intensely supported by the party boss.”</p> <p>For most campaigns, having poll sites manned by supporters is understood to be an implicit advantage, he explained. In fact, he said the practice has benefitted his own career, but that the relevant campaigns “never explicitly” coordinated with the local Democratic Party.</p> <p>Another experienced campaign staffer in Queens explicitly corroborated these allegations, expressing surprise that he was being questioned about this issue, as he thought it was common knowledge. “In Queens County, this is par for the course,” the campaign staffer said over the phone. “It would be ideal for a campaign to situate affiliated people within the poll sites.”</p> <p>“I’ve been on insurgent campaigns and I’ve had many supporters apply to be poll workers. The incumbent’s team would have had all their spots taken up,” the Queens campaign staffer continued. “The incumbents are the ones that can get it done.”</p> <p>He added that inserted poll workers were often asked to electioneer. “If you want a true representative democracy, this is totally a cluster****,” he declared. “If democracy works well, people like me wouldn’t have a job.”</p> <p><strong>“Definitely Overblown”</strong><br />Despite concerns from candidates and staffers that party-backed campaigns are rejiggering the cogs of the electoral system in their favor, other political insiders—including previous candidates, observers, and party officials—have either never caught wind of this phenomenon or believe the rumors to be nothing more than hot air.</p> <p>Kim Moscaritolo, the female district leader for the 76th Assembly District and a longtime political activist, said that she couldn’t confirm or deny these allegations.</p> <p>Others think these claims, while hypothetically possible, are unlikely. “In theory, that might be true. In my years, I’ve seen very little evidence. I’m skeptical about most allegations of election fraud,” said Jerry Skurnik, partner at consultancy Prime NY, which specializes in election data, and a longtime political aide and observer in New York.</p> <p>And Democratic party officials in Manhattan and Brooklyn adamantly deny that anything more nefarious than the occasional poll site mishap may occur during city elections. Weinberg, of the Manhattan Democratic Committee, said that at least in Manhattan, these allegations of poll worker bias and electioneering are “definitely overblown.” He also expressed faith in the current system. “The laws are written with mistrust. The system is almost designed to be adversarial,” he added.</p> <p>Officials in Brooklyn agreed with Weinberg’s skepticism. In a statement, Bob Liff, spokesman for the Kings County Democratic Party, said, “Some [poll workers] are recommended by political organizations, but a larger percentage come from direct application to the Board of Elections. The bigger problem is finding enough qualified people to staff every election district willing to register with the Board and go through training and work the long hours for the low pay.”</p> <p>According to the BOE, approximately 60% of poll workers are found through general applications and 40% are selected by district leaders. The number of party-designated poll workers forwarded to the BOE has been steadily trending down the past few years, said Ryan, the executive director.</p> <p>“I think that the system is set up as a bipartisan system to prevent abuse. It really is both sides watching each other to make sure that elections are conducted as fairly and squarely as they can be,” stressed Ryan. “While it would be inaccurate to say we never hear of poll workers doing things they’re not supposed to be doing, it would also be inaccurate to say that poll worker misconduct is rampant.”</p> <p>Ryan added that party-backed candidates enjoy widespread advantages not through the manipulation of poll sites, but through the money and campaign experience that party support provides. “The folks that are running and don’t have the party backing, what they’re lacking is the experience of running a campaign, and they’re also lacking access to individuals who have experience running a campaign,” he explained. “That I see is a bigger hurdle for candidates to overcome, more so than what an individual poll worker is doing at a poll site.”</p> <p><strong>Calls to “Professionalize” the BOE</strong><br /> The allegations of partisan poll workers influencing local elections touch on larger efforts to reform the BOE and prevent the Democratic and Republican parties from engaging in what some describe as a system of “patronage.”</p> <p>Last year, the BOE <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/26/nyregion/de-blasio-calls-for-improvements-in-election-process-after-problems-in-presidential-primary.html?_r=0" target="_blank" rel="noopener">purged approximately 125,000 Democratic voters from the voting rolls in Brooklyn</a> without explanation, And after the September 2017 primaries the BOE changed more than 20% of its polling sites since 2016, regularly breaking city law by not posting notices of the changes.</p> <p>"I think the Board of Elections' time has come and gone,” Mayor de Blasio said after the 2017 primaries, as reported by <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/de-blasio-time-rethink-board-elections-model-article-1.3496341" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Daily News</a>. “I think it's time for fundamental change. This model doesn't work, period.”</p> <p>And this past November, city Comptroller Scott Stringer released <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7296-ahead-of-election-day-comptroller-audit-highlights-board-of-elections-dysfunction" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a damning audit of the BOE</a>, reporting that 90% of the 156 poll sites observed during three elections since April 2016 had significant problems—including severe infractions of election law, most notably instances of electioneering by poll workers.</p> <p>Government watchdog groups like Common Cause/NY argue that many of the BOE’s problems stem from employees hired because of party loyalty, not professional competency. “The people who were chosen because they were good treasurers for their local political party may not bring the right skills to the job,” said Susan Lerner, executive director for Common Cause/NY, in an interview. “I have had political operatives, party officials say to me that one of the purposes of the Board of Elections is to provide employment for people who wouldn’t be able to get jobs otherwise.”</p> <p>She argues that the BOE should be “professionalized,” meaning the board’s posts should be filled not through political appointees, but publicly advertised job postings. “We believe that the Board of Elections should be a nonpartisan, professional operation,” said Lerner.</p> <p>When asked if she believes allegations of party-backed candidates inserting their supporters into the polls, she responded, “Yes, absolutely.”</p> <p><strong>Tweak the BOE or Revamp It?</strong><br /> For Michael Ryan and party elites, the BOE needs help, but not wholesale reform. Ryan said that one of the BOE’s biggest challenges right now is finding poll workers willing to work the long hours for low pay. However, these problems are not unique to New York City. He referenced a<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/bipartisan-election-commission-releases-list-of-suggested-fixes/2014/01/22/76902880-8374-11e3-bbe5-6a2a3141e3a9_story.html?utm_term=.d556641d5b59" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> report released in January 2014</a> by the bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration that detailed <a href="http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/page/politics/report-on-the-american-voting-experience/754/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">widespread shortages of poll workers across the country</a>.</p> <p>Weinberg, of the Manhattan Democrats, agreed that finding more poll workers was the most pressing obstacle to well-run elections, suggesting that paying them more money would incentivize more people to apply.</p> <p>However, when asked if the BOE should do away with the current system of district leaders nominating a substantial portion of poll workers, he said no, “they actually need the local, on-the-ground knowledge from District Leaders.”</p> <p>For reformers like Ben Kallos, City Council member for Manhattan’s District 5 and chair of the Council’s government operations committee, the problem is simple. “I don’t believe people should get jobs in government because of who they know,” he said in a phone interview.</p> <p>He urged anyone with allegations of campaigns inserting supporters into poll sites to speak up, including through the city <a href="http://www.nyc.gov/doi/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Department of Investigations</a>. “We’re calling upon them to do their civic duty,” he exhorted.</p> <p>

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by Ben Weiss, Gotham Gazette

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</p>
State Board of Elections Official Says City Must Move to Instant Runoff Voting 2017-12-13T05:00:00+00:00 2017-12-13T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7369:state-board-of-elections-official-says-city-must-move-to-instant-runoff-voting Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/kallos_hearing.jpg" alt="kallos hearing" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>Council Member Ben Kallos (photo via @NYCCouncil)</p> <hr /> <p>Ahead of the September 12 primary, mayoral candidate Sal Albanese seemingly had the Reform Party ballot line locked up. It meant that Albanese would be on the general election ballot even if he lost the Democratic primary to Mayor Bill de Blasio. At the last minute, however, Republican candidate Nicole Malliotakis and independent candidate Bo Dietl attempted to snatch the Reform nomination from Albanese through an “opportunity to ballot,” which had effectively opened up the Reform line to write-in candidates. Albanese would prevail with 53 percent of the vote, but the spectacle raised major concerns for elections officials. Had all of the candidates failed to reach the 40 percent mark, it would’ve automatically triggered a laborious and costly citywide runoff election between the top two vote-getters.</p> <p>New York City “dodged a bullet” in avoiding a runoff election, said Douglas Kellner, Democratic co-chair of the New York State Board of Elections, at a Wednesday oversight hearing of the City Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations. Kellner, who was there to give his assessment of the recent municipal elections and other matters, briefed the committee members on steps the Council could take to improve election management.</p> <p>“The first is something that is really in your lap, and that is dealing with the runoff primary election,” he said, calling on the Council to quickly implement instant runoff voting in which voters get to rank multiple candidates in order of preference. For the three citywide positions of Mayor, Public Advocate, and Comptroller, New York City’s charter instead provides for a runoff to be held two weeks after a primary, burdening local election administrators and costing millions of dollars. Most recently, an expensive runoff infamously occured in the 2013 Democratic primary for public advocate, with the primary costing more than the annual budget for the office.</p> <p>Urgent action is necessary, Kellner said, since a significant amount of time can go into updating election equipment and planning for the next election cycle. Moving soon, four years out from the next city election, would also prevent individuals and parties from predicting, and gaming, the effects on the election system, he said.</p> <p>“Now, you dodged a bullet...but, that problem hasn’t gone away,” Kellner said, insisting that there was no significant benefit from a full runoff. “And if you’re not gonna do anything, then it’s your fault,” he joked. “But it’s not realistic to make the decision two or three years down the road.” The 2021 elections, when all three citywide posts will be open due to term limits, are expected to be especially competitive in the Democratic primaries.</p> <p>Council Member Ben Kallos, the chair of the committee, is himself “incredibly supportive” of instant runoffs, he said Wednesday. “I believe that a certain elected official...in the city is opposing that legislation,” he said wryly, referring to Mayor de Blasio, who opposed instant runoff voting when he was public advocate. “While I here in the Council am willing to do so, I believe we still need to get the mayor to sign it,” Kallos added.</p> <p>All of the eight candidates to become the next City Council Speaker <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7331-city-council-speaker-candidates-address-power-reform-and-transparency?mc_cid=5cc59c4465&amp;mc_eid=6382885063&amp;utm_source=CFB+weekly+updates&amp;utm_campaign=cf7f97599c-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_12_01&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=0_745d48d7ac-cf7f97599c-290605553" target="_blank" rel="noopener">recently said</a> that they support moving to instant runoff voting, often called ranked-choice voting.</p> <p>Kellner, who also floated the option of a charter amendment petition, which would go to the voters, said if the city failed to implement runoff voting, then it should abolish runoff elections entirely. “The city was lucky this last year that they didn’t have to spend the money on a runoff election,” he said. “And imagine what the reaction would’ve been if the city had to spend millions of dollars to hold a runoff election for one of the small parties, where they might’ve been spending as much as $30,000 per vote in order to administer a runoff election for one of the smaller parties. And that’s how the statute is set up now and it’s a crazy statute.”</p> <p>Indeed, in the 2013 race to replace de Blasio as public advocate, Democrats Letitia James and Daniel Squadron went to a runoff election that <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/30/nyregion/high-cost-runoff-for-public-advocates-post-prompts-calls-for-reform.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">was estimated</a> to cost around $13 million. Both Squadron and James, the eventual winner of the race, came out in favor of instant runoff voting.</p> <p>“I think that that is a worthy conversation that needs to be had and we certainly would need to make some adjustments,” said New York City Board of Election Executive Director Michael Ryan, at Wednesday’s hearing. Ryan noted that the potential runoff for the Reform Party, which holds open primaries, would be open to approximately 800,000 unaffiliated voters and the 261 New Yorkers registered with the party itself as of November 1. “It would’ve been a full citywide runoff,” he said, “and considering the paucity of actual enrollees in the Reform Party, its very easy to field candidates when you need such a small number of signatures and then open the Board up to significant elections responsibilities and a potential runoff.”</p> <p>He said the Board had plans in place to hold the election, and pointed out the multiple hurdles they would face. Between primary day and the day of the runoff, there were multiple religious holidays, and the UN General Assembly was convening, where President Donald Trump was scheduled to speak. “So to say we dodged a bullet is an understatement,” he said.</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/kallos_hearing.jpg" alt="kallos hearing" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>Council Member Ben Kallos (photo via @NYCCouncil)</p> <hr /> <p>Ahead of the September 12 primary, mayoral candidate Sal Albanese seemingly had the Reform Party ballot line locked up. It meant that Albanese would be on the general election ballot even if he lost the Democratic primary to Mayor Bill de Blasio. At the last minute, however, Republican candidate Nicole Malliotakis and independent candidate Bo Dietl attempted to snatch the Reform nomination from Albanese through an “opportunity to ballot,” which had effectively opened up the Reform line to write-in candidates. Albanese would prevail with 53 percent of the vote, but the spectacle raised major concerns for elections officials. Had all of the candidates failed to reach the 40 percent mark, it would’ve automatically triggered a laborious and costly citywide runoff election between the top two vote-getters.</p> <p>New York City “dodged a bullet” in avoiding a runoff election, said Douglas Kellner, Democratic co-chair of the New York State Board of Elections, at a Wednesday oversight hearing of the City Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations. Kellner, who was there to give his assessment of the recent municipal elections and other matters, briefed the committee members on steps the Council could take to improve election management.</p> <p>“The first is something that is really in your lap, and that is dealing with the runoff primary election,” he said, calling on the Council to quickly implement instant runoff voting in which voters get to rank multiple candidates in order of preference. For the three citywide positions of Mayor, Public Advocate, and Comptroller, New York City’s charter instead provides for a runoff to be held two weeks after a primary, burdening local election administrators and costing millions of dollars. Most recently, an expensive runoff infamously occured in the 2013 Democratic primary for public advocate, with the primary costing more than the annual budget for the office.</p> <p>Urgent action is necessary, Kellner said, since a significant amount of time can go into updating election equipment and planning for the next election cycle. Moving soon, four years out from the next city election, would also prevent individuals and parties from predicting, and gaming, the effects on the election system, he said.</p> <p>“Now, you dodged a bullet...but, that problem hasn’t gone away,” Kellner said, insisting that there was no significant benefit from a full runoff. “And if you’re not gonna do anything, then it’s your fault,” he joked. “But it’s not realistic to make the decision two or three years down the road.” The 2021 elections, when all three citywide posts will be open due to term limits, are expected to be especially competitive in the Democratic primaries.</p> <p>Council Member Ben Kallos, the chair of the committee, is himself “incredibly supportive” of instant runoffs, he said Wednesday. “I believe that a certain elected official...in the city is opposing that legislation,” he said wryly, referring to Mayor de Blasio, who opposed instant runoff voting when he was public advocate. “While I here in the Council am willing to do so, I believe we still need to get the mayor to sign it,” Kallos added.</p> <p>All of the eight candidates to become the next City Council Speaker <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/7331-city-council-speaker-candidates-address-power-reform-and-transparency?mc_cid=5cc59c4465&amp;mc_eid=6382885063&amp;utm_source=CFB+weekly+updates&amp;utm_campaign=cf7f97599c-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_12_01&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=0_745d48d7ac-cf7f97599c-290605553" target="_blank" rel="noopener">recently said</a> that they support moving to instant runoff voting, often called ranked-choice voting.</p> <p>Kellner, who also floated the option of a charter amendment petition, which would go to the voters, said if the city failed to implement runoff voting, then it should abolish runoff elections entirely. “The city was lucky this last year that they didn’t have to spend the money on a runoff election,” he said. “And imagine what the reaction would’ve been if the city had to spend millions of dollars to hold a runoff election for one of the small parties, where they might’ve been spending as much as $30,000 per vote in order to administer a runoff election for one of the smaller parties. And that’s how the statute is set up now and it’s a crazy statute.”</p> <p>Indeed, in the 2013 race to replace de Blasio as public advocate, Democrats Letitia James and Daniel Squadron went to a runoff election that <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/30/nyregion/high-cost-runoff-for-public-advocates-post-prompts-calls-for-reform.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">was estimated</a> to cost around $13 million. Both Squadron and James, the eventual winner of the race, came out in favor of instant runoff voting.</p> <p>“I think that that is a worthy conversation that needs to be had and we certainly would need to make some adjustments,” said New York City Board of Election Executive Director Michael Ryan, at Wednesday’s hearing. Ryan noted that the potential runoff for the Reform Party, which holds open primaries, would be open to approximately 800,000 unaffiliated voters and the 261 New Yorkers registered with the party itself as of November 1. “It would’ve been a full citywide runoff,” he said, “and considering the paucity of actual enrollees in the Reform Party, its very easy to field candidates when you need such a small number of signatures and then open the Board up to significant elections responsibilities and a potential runoff.”</p> <p>He said the Board had plans in place to hold the election, and pointed out the multiple hurdles they would face. Between primary day and the day of the runoff, there were multiple religious holidays, and the UN General Assembly was convening, where President Donald Trump was scheduled to speak. “So to say we dodged a bullet is an understatement,” he said.</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
Max & Murphy Podcast: City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley 2017-12-05T05:00:00+00:00 2017-12-05T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7348:max-murphy-podcast-city-council-member-elizabeth-crowley Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/max-murphy-housing.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Jarrett Murphy, left, of City Limits, and Ben Max, right, of Gotham Gazette</p> <hr /> <p><strong>December 5, 2017 - Max &amp; Murphy podcast: City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley<br /></strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/liz-crowley-podcast-277.jpg" alt="liz crowley podcast 277" width="277" height="143" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" /></p> <p>City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley was elected in 2008, the first woman and first Democrat to represent her Queens district. She's chaired the Council's Fire and Criminal Justice Committee, holding hearings on Rikers Island jails and much more, including a hearing on closing Rikers jails that occurred just one day before taping the podcast with Max &amp; Murphy. In November, Crowley was defeated in her reelection bid by 137 votes. Her loss, to Robert Holden, shocked many people and means one fewer woman on the City Council come January, when just 11 of the 51 seats will be occupied by women.</p> <p>On the podcast Crowley discussed her work in the Council, the effort to close the Rikers jails, her election loss, working to see more women elected to the City Council, and her future.</p> <p>Listen to the full conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@jarrettmurphy</a>&nbsp;and guest <a href="https://twitter.com/ElizCrowleyNYC" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@ElizCrowleyNYC</a>. You can listen to the episode through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts.</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/365417822&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="170" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/max-murphy-housing.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Jarrett Murphy, left, of City Limits, and Ben Max, right, of Gotham Gazette</p> <hr /> <p><strong>December 5, 2017 - Max &amp; Murphy podcast: City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley<br /></strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/liz-crowley-podcast-277.jpg" alt="liz crowley podcast 277" width="277" height="143" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" /></p> <p>City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley was elected in 2008, the first woman and first Democrat to represent her Queens district. She's chaired the Council's Fire and Criminal Justice Committee, holding hearings on Rikers Island jails and much more, including a hearing on closing Rikers jails that occurred just one day before taping the podcast with Max &amp; Murphy. In November, Crowley was defeated in her reelection bid by 137 votes. Her loss, to Robert Holden, shocked many people and means one fewer woman on the City Council come January, when just 11 of the 51 seats will be occupied by women.</p> <p>On the podcast Crowley discussed her work in the Council, the effort to close the Rikers jails, her election loss, working to see more women elected to the City Council, and her future.</p> <p>Listen to the full conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@jarrettmurphy</a>&nbsp;and guest <a href="https://twitter.com/ElizCrowleyNYC" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@ElizCrowleyNYC</a>. You can listen to the episode through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts.</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/365417822&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="170" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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De Blasio's Campaign Cash During Election Crunch 2017-12-05T05:00:00+00:00 2017-12-05T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7354:de-blasio-s-campaign-cash-during-election-crunch Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/26349921339_5d7a8a52d4_z.jpg" alt="Mayor de Blasio campaign" width="600" height="401" /></p> <p>Mayor de Blasio (photo:&nbsp;Edwin J. Torres/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>In the two weeks leading up to Election Day, November 7, Mayor Bill de Blasio raised about $485,653 for his reelection campaign, and spent $1.65 million in winning a second term by a wide margin, according to the latest disclosures filed with the New York City Campaign Finance Board. The disclosures cover the five-week period from October 24 to November 30, and show that on and after Election Day, de Blasio raised another $82,461 and spent an additional $312,795.</p> <p>Despite having little competition in the Democratic primary and being widely expected to prevail in the general, de Blasio spent a total of $10.1 million over the course of the campaign, having raised $6.55 million in campaign contributions and receiving another $3.5 million in public funds from the CFB under the city’s matching funds program that matches eligible small-dollar donations at a 6-to-1 ratio. De Blasio’s campaign account has just $84,154 left in cash. The mayor is ineligible to run again in 2021.</p> <p>The most significant expenditures in the two-week period prior to Election Day went to a major advertising blitz by de Blasio’s campaign. The campaign paid three consulting firms for both television and digital ads. About $1 million went to AKPD Message and Media, a firm that includes among its partners John Del Cecato, a close outside advisor to the mayor who was one of the five people designated “agents of the city” to shield their communications with the mayor. AKPD also received another $47,843 payment on Election Day itself. The campaign also paid $283,824 to Revolution Messaging, the firm that worked on Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, and about $143,450 to Hamilton Campaign Network, a separate campaign consulting arm of the prominent lobbying firm the MirRam Group.</p> <p>After de Blasio was successfully re-elected, with about two-thirds of the vote, the campaign’s expenditure went expectedly to winding down operations, with most of the payments going to consultants and campaign workers.</p> <p>Although the mayor was heading into Election Day with a massive fundraising advantage, supporters continued to generously donate to his campaign. Of the $485,653 he received in the two-week lead-up period from 670 contributions, there were 51 maxed-out donations of $4,950 totalling $242,550 from a broad range of sources. There are some prominent names on the list. For instance, Howard and Steven Rubenstein of Rubenstein Communications, a public relations giant in the city, and Bryn Mooser, a humanitarian and documentary filmmaker.</p> <p>The mayor even raised $45,088 on Election Day itself, including seven max donations equalling $34,650. Two of those donations came from employees of Munoz and Company, a San Antonio-based creative agency, and one from a political action fund affiliated with NYSUT, the influential state teachers union.</p> <p>The giving continued in the weeks after de Blasio won, as his campaign received another $37,373, including six contributions of the maximum amount, of which two contributions were from the international and local chapters of the AFSCME, the largest public service employee union in the country. De Blasio is serving his second and final term in office but he can utilize leftover campaign funds in numerous ways, either to pay outstanding campaign bills or to donate to other city and state campaigns. He could also transfer the money to a state campaign account should he consider a run for statewide office. Campaign spokesperson Dan Levitan said in an email that the money would go to “routine windup expenses and post-election audit expenses.”</p> <p>After each election, the CFB audits all campaigns for violations of campaign finance law, closely scrutinizing those who participate in the public matching funds program. These audits can sometimes take years to conclude. In December 2016, the Board <a href="http://www.nyccfb.info/PDF/reports/FA/FA-2013-bdeblasio-326.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">fined</a> de Blasio’s 2013 campaign nearly $48,000 for numerous violations. The largest penalty of $21,159 was for making $160,888 in impermissible post-election expenditures to 13 vendors. Of those expenditures, the campaign had paid $116,250 to the consulting firm Hilltop Public Solutions, run by de Blasio’s 2013 campaign manager Bill Hyers. (The 2017 campaign paid Hilltop just over $20,000 on Election Day and another $22,000 on November 16.)</p> <p>Assembly Member Nicole Malliotakis, de Blasio’s Republican opponent, had coffers that were less plentiful. By the end of the race, she had spent about $3.7 million. Malliotakis’ fundraising was hampered by relative lack of name recognition and her late entry into the race. She managed to raise about $1.19 million and got about $2.5 million in public funds. She has a little more than $42,000 in her campaign account as of this filing.</p> <p>The next and final filing of the current cycle is due January 16.</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/reset_1/26349921339_5d7a8a52d4_z.jpg" alt="Mayor de Blasio campaign" width="600" height="401" /></p> <p>Mayor de Blasio (photo:&nbsp;Edwin J. Torres/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>In the two weeks leading up to Election Day, November 7, Mayor Bill de Blasio raised about $485,653 for his reelection campaign, and spent $1.65 million in winning a second term by a wide margin, according to the latest disclosures filed with the New York City Campaign Finance Board. The disclosures cover the five-week period from October 24 to November 30, and show that on and after Election Day, de Blasio raised another $82,461 and spent an additional $312,795.</p> <p>Despite having little competition in the Democratic primary and being widely expected to prevail in the general, de Blasio spent a total of $10.1 million over the course of the campaign, having raised $6.55 million in campaign contributions and receiving another $3.5 million in public funds from the CFB under the city’s matching funds program that matches eligible small-dollar donations at a 6-to-1 ratio. De Blasio’s campaign account has just $84,154 left in cash. The mayor is ineligible to run again in 2021.</p> <p>The most significant expenditures in the two-week period prior to Election Day went to a major advertising blitz by de Blasio’s campaign. The campaign paid three consulting firms for both television and digital ads. About $1 million went to AKPD Message and Media, a firm that includes among its partners John Del Cecato, a close outside advisor to the mayor who was one of the five people designated “agents of the city” to shield their communications with the mayor. AKPD also received another $47,843 payment on Election Day itself. The campaign also paid $283,824 to Revolution Messaging, the firm that worked on Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, and about $143,450 to Hamilton Campaign Network, a separate campaign consulting arm of the prominent lobbying firm the MirRam Group.</p> <p>After de Blasio was successfully re-elected, with about two-thirds of the vote, the campaign’s expenditure went expectedly to winding down operations, with most of the payments going to consultants and campaign workers.</p> <p>Although the mayor was heading into Election Day with a massive fundraising advantage, supporters continued to generously donate to his campaign. Of the $485,653 he received in the two-week lead-up period from 670 contributions, there were 51 maxed-out donations of $4,950 totalling $242,550 from a broad range of sources. There are some prominent names on the list. For instance, Howard and Steven Rubenstein of Rubenstein Communications, a public relations giant in the city, and Bryn Mooser, a humanitarian and documentary filmmaker.</p> <p>The mayor even raised $45,088 on Election Day itself, including seven max donations equalling $34,650. Two of those donations came from employees of Munoz and Company, a San Antonio-based creative agency, and one from a political action fund affiliated with NYSUT, the influential state teachers union.</p> <p>The giving continued in the weeks after de Blasio won, as his campaign received another $37,373, including six contributions of the maximum amount, of which two contributions were from the international and local chapters of the AFSCME, the largest public service employee union in the country. De Blasio is serving his second and final term in office but he can utilize leftover campaign funds in numerous ways, either to pay outstanding campaign bills or to donate to other city and state campaigns. He could also transfer the money to a state campaign account should he consider a run for statewide office. Campaign spokesperson Dan Levitan said in an email that the money would go to “routine windup expenses and post-election audit expenses.”</p> <p>After each election, the CFB audits all campaigns for violations of campaign finance law, closely scrutinizing those who participate in the public matching funds program. These audits can sometimes take years to conclude. In December 2016, the Board <a href="http://www.nyccfb.info/PDF/reports/FA/FA-2013-bdeblasio-326.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">fined</a> de Blasio’s 2013 campaign nearly $48,000 for numerous violations. The largest penalty of $21,159 was for making $160,888 in impermissible post-election expenditures to 13 vendors. Of those expenditures, the campaign had paid $116,250 to the consulting firm Hilltop Public Solutions, run by de Blasio’s 2013 campaign manager Bill Hyers. (The 2017 campaign paid Hilltop just over $20,000 on Election Day and another $22,000 on November 16.)</p> <p>Assembly Member Nicole Malliotakis, de Blasio’s Republican opponent, had coffers that were less plentiful. By the end of the race, she had spent about $3.7 million. Malliotakis’ fundraising was hampered by relative lack of name recognition and her late entry into the race. She managed to raise about $1.19 million and got about $2.5 million in public funds. She has a little more than $42,000 in her campaign account as of this filing.</p> <p>The next and final filing of the current cycle is due January 16.</p> <p>

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
Max & Murphy Podcast: Previewing De Blasio's Second Term 2017-11-27T05:00:00+00:00 2017-11-27T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7337:max-murphy-podcast-previewing-de-blasio-s-second-term Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/max-murphy-housing.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Jarrett Murphy, left, of City Limits, and Ben Max, right, of Gotham Gazette</p> <hr /> <p><strong>November 27, 2017 - Max &amp; Murphy: Previewing De Blasio's Second Term<br /></strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/bill_de_blasio_2nd_term_277px.jpg" alt="bill de blasio 2nd term 277px" width="277" height="143" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" /></p> <p>Max &amp; Murphy discuss the next steps for recently re-elected Mayor Bill de Blasio, who, as his second term gets going, will surely be dealing with some cabinet changes and will have to navigate the election of the next City Council Speaker. De Blasio's 2018 will also include a variety of complex city issues, from transit to schools, the effort to close Rikers Island jails, and much more; and federal and state-level elections. We break it all down in a fast 20-minute conversation for this episode.</p> <p>Listen to the full conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@jarrettmurphy</a>. You can listen to the episode through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts.</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/361596596&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="170" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/max-murphy-housing.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Jarrett Murphy, left, of City Limits, and Ben Max, right, of Gotham Gazette</p> <hr /> <p><strong>November 27, 2017 - Max &amp; Murphy: Previewing De Blasio's Second Term<br /></strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/podcast/bill_de_blasio_2nd_term_277px.jpg" alt="bill de blasio 2nd term 277px" width="277" height="143" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" /></p> <p>Max &amp; Murphy discuss the next steps for recently re-elected Mayor Bill de Blasio, who, as his second term gets going, will surely be dealing with some cabinet changes and will have to navigate the election of the next City Council Speaker. De Blasio's 2018 will also include a variety of complex city issues, from transit to schools, the effort to close Rikers Island jails, and much more; and federal and state-level elections. We break it all down in a fast 20-minute conversation for this episode.</p> <p>Listen to the full conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@jarrettmurphy</a>. You can listen to the episode through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts.</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/361596596&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="170" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>