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/special-election 2017-12-12T08:33:56+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com Special Election Shows Need for Democratization 2016-02-22T19:58:44+00:00 2016-02-22T19:58:44+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6187:special-election-shows-need-for-democratization Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/pressconf.jpg" alt="silver seat KALC" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Charles Youn, executive director of KALCA, speaks at a press conference</p> <hr /> <p>Any good democracy should reflect a society’s diversity in its leadership. The undemocratic way in which the 65th Assembly District special election is unfolding should galvanize all communities, particularly underrepresented ones, to push for reforms and encourage underrepresented New Yorkers to be more civically engaged.</p> <p dir="ltr">America does not always have accurate and inclusive representation in government. This is especially true in state legislatures. A few weeks ago<a href="http://www.newamericanleaders.org/states_of_inclusion_2016_report.html" target="_blank">, a study released by the New American Leaders Project</a> found several distressing trends. Although 38% of the U.S. population identifies themselves as people of color, only 6% of state legislators come from such a background. &nbsp;Furthermore, the New American Leaders Project’s survey of non-white legislators found that during some of their campaigns, they were actively discouraged from running by their own political party.</p> <p dir="ltr">This problem is painfully apparent in New York. For the past 40 years, Sheldon Silver ruled over the 65th Assembly District, commonly referred to as a majority-minority district. This district includes Chinatown, a neighborhood that has steadfastly served as the epicenter of growth and opportunity for many Asian immigrants since the 1900s.</p> <p dir="ltr">Silver is said to have had a vice-like grip on his seat, and only released his hold when the courts forced him to leave upon a federal corruption conviction. His departure and the subsequent special election should have given New Yorkers the opportunity to vote for new candidates who actually reflect their community. However, residents of the district were robbed of that opportunity.</p> <p dir="ltr">Since the announcement of the special election, the deck was stacked against any possible candidate outside the local political machine, one which Silver still controls. On January 30, <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/voters-decide-article-1.2513169" target="_blank">despite the protests of the media</a> and good government groups such as <a href="http://thevillager.com/2015/12/31/arcane-process-to-pick-shelly-silver-successor-favors-district-leaders/" target="_blank">Common Cause New York</a>, a special election date of April 19 was announced, which was five months earlier than the strongly suggested September 13 New York State primary date. Just a few hours later, local blogs and newspapers revealed that the Democratic County Committee, a subset of the state Democratic Party, would determine the Democratic nominee for the special election in one week, effectively ending an election just seven days after its start.</p> <p dir="ltr">The candidate the local county committee selected on February 6 was Alice Cancel, the wife of the Democratic County Committeeman and political club boss of the Lower East Democrats, John Quinn. Cancel has had no qualms praising Silver.</p> <p dir="ltr">The quick and fixed process prompted one candidate, <a href="https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20160208/financial-district/controversy-surrounds-democratic-candidate-chosen-for-sheldon-silvers-seat" target="_blank">Yuh-Line Niou, to refuse to be considered for the Democratic line</a>, stating that “this process is not one anyone would have chosen to reflect the diversity of our district, and to be fully democratic.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The election in April will be a farce, with only one name on the Democratic ballot line in a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans 8 to 1. Come fall, the Democratic pick will have an incumbent advantage, and Chinatown may once again be represented by someone who has not democratically earned the right to do so.</p> <p dir="ltr">This is a mockery of American democratic values, and we must all act to ensure it does not happen again.</p> <p dir="ltr">There are two ways we as concerned citizens can do so. First, push to adopt the policy recommendations from <a href="http://www.citizensunion.org/www/cu/site/hosting/Reports/Citizens_Union_Hidden%20from%20View_The_Undisclosed_Campaign_Activity_of_Political_Clubs.pdf" target="_blank">Citizens Union’s 2013 report on political clubs</a> to curb excess influence over institutions like the Democratic County Committee. The report found that the financial and personal ties within and among political clubs, machines, and individual politicians were suspect and strong. For example, during the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/10/nyregion/witness-says-larry-seabrook-never-sought-kickbacks.html" target="_blank">2011 federal trial of former City Council member Larry Seabrook</a>, it was discovered that he had used the Northeast Bronx Democratic Club as his personal ATM. To fix this, Citizens Union recommended that a political club’s financial activities be transparent and regulated.</p> <p dir="ltr">Citizens Union recommends, among other things, defining precisely what constitutes illegal coordination between political clubs and candidates’ campaigns.</p> <p dir="ltr">Secondly, underrepresented communities must become more civically engaged. During the midterm elections in 2014, Asian-American voter turnout was abysmal<a href="http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/04/09/asian-american-voter-turnout-lags-behind-other-groups-some-non-voters-say-theyre-too-busy/" target="_blank">—only 4% of the eligible population voted</a>. We can and must do better.</p> <p dir="ltr">Civic engagement does not start or stop at the polls. Being engaged means joining a community board, voting in primaries, participating in candidate forums, reading political news, and joining organizations that advocate for people’s rights.</p> <p dir="ltr">What has happened in Chinatown proves that now is the time for our underrepresented communities to get involved and make a difference.</p> <p dir="ltr">***<br />Serin Choi is the Advocacy Chair for the Korean American League for Civic Action, a non-partisan non-profit organization that advocates for increased Asian leadership in the public sector.</p> <p dir="ltr">

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Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/pressconf.jpg" alt="silver seat KALC" width="600" height="450" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Charles Youn, executive director of KALCA, speaks at a press conference</p> <hr /> <p>Any good democracy should reflect a society’s diversity in its leadership. The undemocratic way in which the 65th Assembly District special election is unfolding should galvanize all communities, particularly underrepresented ones, to push for reforms and encourage underrepresented New Yorkers to be more civically engaged.</p> <p dir="ltr">America does not always have accurate and inclusive representation in government. This is especially true in state legislatures. A few weeks ago<a href="http://www.newamericanleaders.org/states_of_inclusion_2016_report.html" target="_blank">, a study released by the New American Leaders Project</a> found several distressing trends. Although 38% of the U.S. population identifies themselves as people of color, only 6% of state legislators come from such a background. &nbsp;Furthermore, the New American Leaders Project’s survey of non-white legislators found that during some of their campaigns, they were actively discouraged from running by their own political party.</p> <p dir="ltr">This problem is painfully apparent in New York. For the past 40 years, Sheldon Silver ruled over the 65th Assembly District, commonly referred to as a majority-minority district. This district includes Chinatown, a neighborhood that has steadfastly served as the epicenter of growth and opportunity for many Asian immigrants since the 1900s.</p> <p dir="ltr">Silver is said to have had a vice-like grip on his seat, and only released his hold when the courts forced him to leave upon a federal corruption conviction. His departure and the subsequent special election should have given New Yorkers the opportunity to vote for new candidates who actually reflect their community. However, residents of the district were robbed of that opportunity.</p> <p dir="ltr">Since the announcement of the special election, the deck was stacked against any possible candidate outside the local political machine, one which Silver still controls. On January 30, <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/voters-decide-article-1.2513169" target="_blank">despite the protests of the media</a> and good government groups such as <a href="http://thevillager.com/2015/12/31/arcane-process-to-pick-shelly-silver-successor-favors-district-leaders/" target="_blank">Common Cause New York</a>, a special election date of April 19 was announced, which was five months earlier than the strongly suggested September 13 New York State primary date. Just a few hours later, local blogs and newspapers revealed that the Democratic County Committee, a subset of the state Democratic Party, would determine the Democratic nominee for the special election in one week, effectively ending an election just seven days after its start.</p> <p dir="ltr">The candidate the local county committee selected on February 6 was Alice Cancel, the wife of the Democratic County Committeeman and political club boss of the Lower East Democrats, John Quinn. Cancel has had no qualms praising Silver.</p> <p dir="ltr">The quick and fixed process prompted one candidate, <a href="https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20160208/financial-district/controversy-surrounds-democratic-candidate-chosen-for-sheldon-silvers-seat" target="_blank">Yuh-Line Niou, to refuse to be considered for the Democratic line</a>, stating that “this process is not one anyone would have chosen to reflect the diversity of our district, and to be fully democratic.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The election in April will be a farce, with only one name on the Democratic ballot line in a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans 8 to 1. Come fall, the Democratic pick will have an incumbent advantage, and Chinatown may once again be represented by someone who has not democratically earned the right to do so.</p> <p dir="ltr">This is a mockery of American democratic values, and we must all act to ensure it does not happen again.</p> <p dir="ltr">There are two ways we as concerned citizens can do so. First, push to adopt the policy recommendations from <a href="http://www.citizensunion.org/www/cu/site/hosting/Reports/Citizens_Union_Hidden%20from%20View_The_Undisclosed_Campaign_Activity_of_Political_Clubs.pdf" target="_blank">Citizens Union’s 2013 report on political clubs</a> to curb excess influence over institutions like the Democratic County Committee. The report found that the financial and personal ties within and among political clubs, machines, and individual politicians were suspect and strong. For example, during the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/10/nyregion/witness-says-larry-seabrook-never-sought-kickbacks.html" target="_blank">2011 federal trial of former City Council member Larry Seabrook</a>, it was discovered that he had used the Northeast Bronx Democratic Club as his personal ATM. To fix this, Citizens Union recommended that a political club’s financial activities be transparent and regulated.</p> <p dir="ltr">Citizens Union recommends, among other things, defining precisely what constitutes illegal coordination between political clubs and candidates’ campaigns.</p> <p dir="ltr">Secondly, underrepresented communities must become more civically engaged. During the midterm elections in 2014, Asian-American voter turnout was abysmal<a href="http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/04/09/asian-american-voter-turnout-lags-behind-other-groups-some-non-voters-say-theyre-too-busy/" target="_blank">—only 4% of the eligible population voted</a>. We can and must do better.</p> <p dir="ltr">Civic engagement does not start or stop at the polls. Being engaged means joining a community board, voting in primaries, participating in candidate forums, reading political news, and joining organizations that advocate for people’s rights.</p> <p dir="ltr">What has happened in Chinatown proves that now is the time for our underrepresented communities to get involved and make a difference.</p> <p dir="ltr">***<br />Serin Choi is the Advocacy Chair for the Korean American League for Civic Action, a non-partisan non-profit organization that advocates for increased Asian leadership in the public sector.</p> <p dir="ltr">

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Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

</p>
Voters to Fill Vacant Bronx Council Seat in Special Election 2016-02-22T03:24:54+00:00 2016-02-22T03:24:54+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6185:voters-to-fill-vacant-bronx-council-seat-in-special-election Carmen Russo <p dir="ltr"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/salamanca.jpg" alt="salamanca" width="600" height="600" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Rafael Salamanca meets voters before Tuesday's election (<a href="https://twitter.com/JohnJrBx" target="_blank">via @JohnJrBX</a>)</p> <hr /> <p>Residents of District 17 in the Bronx will vote for a new City Council Member on Tuesday in a special election to fill the vacancy left by former Council Member Maria del Carmen Arroyo, who resigned and the end of last year. As with all special elections for the City Council not held on regularly scheduled election days, it is a nonpartisan contest, meaning no candidate will appear on the major party ballot lines. Instead, each candidate had to create his or her own “party.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Voter turnout is expected to be low and the winner will likely be decided by level of institutional support - from labor unions and the Democratic Party apparatus - and access to campaign funds. The winner is all but certain to enter the Council as a Democrat - the Bronx is overwhelmingly Democratic in terms of party registration and the party identification of elected officials (every elected official representing the Bronx at all three levels of government is a Democrat).</p> <p dir="ltr">There are six candidates still in the running, down from eleven initial contenders after several were knocked from ballot contention for various mistakes. Those who will be on the ballot include small business owner George Alvarez; Marlon Molina, a community activist and banker; Joann Otero, former chief of staff for del Carmen Arroyo; Julio Pabon, an activist and entrepreneur; J. Loren Russell, a financial consultant; and Rafael Salamanca, Jr., district manager at Bronx Community Board 2.</p> <p dir="ltr">In this crowded field, Salamanca, Jr. seems to be the frontrunner, with the <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6091-special-election-spotlights-machine-politics-in-the-bronx" target="_blank">backing</a> of the Bronx Democratic County Committee, support from Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and virtually all of the City Council members from the Bronx, as well as the endorsement of Maria del Carmen Arroyo’s mother, Carmen Arroyo. &nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Salamanca, who was also endorsed by the District Council 37 labor union, has far surpassed his opponents in raising campaign funds. He has raised $70,107 and has received $36,732 in public matching funds. Other candidates have raised $7,000-$20,000. Russell and Pabon are the closest - Russell has raised $15,795 and received $42,846 in matching funds; Pabon has raised $15,813 and received $33,432 in matching funds.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Usually the candidate with the most institutional support wins a special election,” said Jerry Skurnik of Prime NY, a political consultancy. He pointed out that the short timeframe within which special elections are held are an advantage to candidates like Salamanca, who have the local political machinery behind them. City Council special elections are usually held on the first Tuesday after a seat has been vacant for 45 days.</p> <p dir="ltr">Skurnik also said that other candidates only stand a chance if they can outspend opponents or invoke wide grassroots support. “There have been some upsets in special elections, but there’s usually some kind of special circumstance which doesn’t look like it’s happening in this Bronx special election,” he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">One major issue in specials is getting people out to vote. “Between 5 and 10 percent of registered voters is relatively good for a special election,” Skurnik said. The numbers bear this out.</p> <p dir="ltr">Three recent elections to City Council seats give an indication of what turnout looks like. Donovan Richards won the 31st Council District in Queens in a special election held on Feb. 19, 2013. There were 76,866 active voters <a href="http://vote.nyc.ny.us/downloads/pdf/documents/boe/EnrollmentTotals/2012/Council%20District%20Enrollment%20Totals%202012.pdf" target="_blank">enrolled</a> in the district in 2012 (the number increased to 81,165 as of April the <a href="http://vote.nyc.ny.us/downloads/pdf/documents/boe/EnrollmentTotals/2013/CityCouncilEnrollmentTotals_4_1_13.pdf" target="_blank">next year</a>). Of those active voters, 9,147 - or 11.89 percent - <a href="http://vote.nyc.ny.us/downloads/pdf/results/2013/SpecialElectionQueens31CityCouncil/Queens31CityCouncil.pdf" target="_blank">cast their ballots</a> in that special election, with 2,646 voting for Richards.</p> <p dir="ltr">The other two elections, for District 51 in Staten Island and District 23 in Queens, were technically <a href="http://observer.com/2015/06/boe-no-nonpartisan-special-elections-for-open-city-council-seats/" target="_blank">not special elections</a>, in that they weren’t nonpartisan, but they were held this past year to replace two Council Members who resigned midway through their terms. A primary was held in September followed by the general election on November 3, Election Day. But the voter statistics are comparable.</p> <p dir="ltr">Held in a low-key election cycle in an off-year, turnout was low, but relatively higher than with Richards’ election. In District 23, there were 11,305 votes <a href="http://vote.nyc.ny.us/downloads/pdf/election_results/2015/20151103General%20Election/00402100023Queens%20Member%20of%20the%20City%20Council%2023rd%20Council%20District%20Recap.pdf" target="_blank">cast</a> (13.9 percent of the 81,027 active voters in the district), with 6,156 going to the winner, Barry Grodenchik, a Democrat.</p> <p dir="ltr">In District 51, Republican Joe Borelli <a href="http://vote.nyc.ny.us/downloads/pdf/election_results/2015/20151103General%20Election/00502100051Richmond%20Member%20of%20the%20City%20Council%2051st%20Council%20District%20Recap.pdf" target="_blank">received</a> 9,111 votes out of the 13,002 cast (14.2 percent of the 91,224 active registered <a href="http://vote.nyc.ny.us/downloads/pdf/documents/boe/EnrollmentTotals/2015/Council%20Enrollment%20Totals%204_1_2015.pdf" target="_blank">voters</a>) even though he ran unopposed.</p> <p dir="ltr">To reach out to the 71,795 active registered voters from District 17 to get them to vote in Tuesday’s special election, the Bronx-based nonprofit Nos Quedamos Community Development Corporation partnered with the New York City Campaign Finance Board’s voter engagement arm, NYC Votes.</p> <p dir="ltr">Nos Quedamos organized a community forum last month, livestreamed by BronxNet, to inform residents of del Carmen Arroyo’s resignation and to introduce the candidates who wanted to replace her. Ten of the eleven initial candidates were present.</p> <p dir="ltr">Nos Quedamos has also been holding a voter registration drive for the last two weeks, first targeting the large concentration of homeless shelters in the district, whose residents are often overlooked when it comes to registering to vote. As election day approaches, they have been focused on reaching out to the nearly 4,000 housing units in the 19 buildings in their organization’s network.</p> <p dir="ltr">“For special elections like this, (turnout) is a concern for us because it’s not on everyone’s radar,” said Jessica Clemente, CEO and president of Nos Quedamos. She said the resignation announcement being made over the holidays meant that very few people were aware that their Council representative had resigned and Nos Quedamos had little time to tell them. “Forty-five days is a blink of an eye,” Clemente said, pointing out that grassroots door-knocking is crucial in such a short time frame to inform voters and bring them to the polls.</p> <p dir="ltr">“You are always going to have low voter turnout when a special election is held,” said Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union, a good government advocacy group. “But better it’s held in an open nonpartisan way than a closed partisan way because voters at least have a choice of candidates in City Council special elections.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Citizens Union last year <a href="http://us3.campaign-archive1.com/?u=ca0fb41d668202ba6cc542ca8&amp;id=ffb274a673&amp;e=[UNIQID]" target="_blank">called</a> for state legislature vacancies to be filled through nonpartisan elections so that they are no longer “party-controlled coronations.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Dadey conceded that party support does still have a role to play in nonpartisan elections. “The major political parties still exercise a great degree of control because of their ability to pull out voters and support candidates,” he said. “But we’ve seen time and time again where the favorite candidate does not always win. So there’s an opportunity for community leaders unaffiliated with a political party to win an election.”</p> <p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;">[Related: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6091-special-election-spotlights-machine-politics-in-the-bronx" target="_blank">Special Election Spotlights Machine Politics in the Bronx</a>]</p> <p dir="ltr">

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p dir="ltr">Note: Gotham Gazette is an independent publication of Citizens Union Foundation, sister organization of Citizens Union.</p> <p dir="ltr">Note: this article has been updated to clarify that it is Carmen Arroyo, not Maria del Carmen Arroyo, who has endorsed Salamanca; and to add campaign finance information for candidate J. Loren Russell.</p>
<p dir="ltr"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2016/salamanca.jpg" alt="salamanca" width="600" height="600" /></p> <p dir="ltr">Rafael Salamanca meets voters before Tuesday's election (<a href="https://twitter.com/JohnJrBx" target="_blank">via @JohnJrBX</a>)</p> <hr /> <p>Residents of District 17 in the Bronx will vote for a new City Council Member on Tuesday in a special election to fill the vacancy left by former Council Member Maria del Carmen Arroyo, who resigned and the end of last year. As with all special elections for the City Council not held on regularly scheduled election days, it is a nonpartisan contest, meaning no candidate will appear on the major party ballot lines. Instead, each candidate had to create his or her own “party.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Voter turnout is expected to be low and the winner will likely be decided by level of institutional support - from labor unions and the Democratic Party apparatus - and access to campaign funds. The winner is all but certain to enter the Council as a Democrat - the Bronx is overwhelmingly Democratic in terms of party registration and the party identification of elected officials (every elected official representing the Bronx at all three levels of government is a Democrat).</p> <p dir="ltr">There are six candidates still in the running, down from eleven initial contenders after several were knocked from ballot contention for various mistakes. Those who will be on the ballot include small business owner George Alvarez; Marlon Molina, a community activist and banker; Joann Otero, former chief of staff for del Carmen Arroyo; Julio Pabon, an activist and entrepreneur; J. Loren Russell, a financial consultant; and Rafael Salamanca, Jr., district manager at Bronx Community Board 2.</p> <p dir="ltr">In this crowded field, Salamanca, Jr. seems to be the frontrunner, with the <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6091-special-election-spotlights-machine-politics-in-the-bronx" target="_blank">backing</a> of the Bronx Democratic County Committee, support from Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and virtually all of the City Council members from the Bronx, as well as the endorsement of Maria del Carmen Arroyo’s mother, Carmen Arroyo. &nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Salamanca, who was also endorsed by the District Council 37 labor union, has far surpassed his opponents in raising campaign funds. He has raised $70,107 and has received $36,732 in public matching funds. Other candidates have raised $7,000-$20,000. Russell and Pabon are the closest - Russell has raised $15,795 and received $42,846 in matching funds; Pabon has raised $15,813 and received $33,432 in matching funds.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Usually the candidate with the most institutional support wins a special election,” said Jerry Skurnik of Prime NY, a political consultancy. He pointed out that the short timeframe within which special elections are held are an advantage to candidates like Salamanca, who have the local political machinery behind them. City Council special elections are usually held on the first Tuesday after a seat has been vacant for 45 days.</p> <p dir="ltr">Skurnik also said that other candidates only stand a chance if they can outspend opponents or invoke wide grassroots support. “There have been some upsets in special elections, but there’s usually some kind of special circumstance which doesn’t look like it’s happening in this Bronx special election,” he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">One major issue in specials is getting people out to vote. “Between 5 and 10 percent of registered voters is relatively good for a special election,” Skurnik said. The numbers bear this out.</p> <p dir="ltr">Three recent elections to City Council seats give an indication of what turnout looks like. Donovan Richards won the 31st Council District in Queens in a special election held on Feb. 19, 2013. There were 76,866 active voters <a href="http://vote.nyc.ny.us/downloads/pdf/documents/boe/EnrollmentTotals/2012/Council%20District%20Enrollment%20Totals%202012.pdf" target="_blank">enrolled</a> in the district in 2012 (the number increased to 81,165 as of April the <a href="http://vote.nyc.ny.us/downloads/pdf/documents/boe/EnrollmentTotals/2013/CityCouncilEnrollmentTotals_4_1_13.pdf" target="_blank">next year</a>). Of those active voters, 9,147 - or 11.89 percent - <a href="http://vote.nyc.ny.us/downloads/pdf/results/2013/SpecialElectionQueens31CityCouncil/Queens31CityCouncil.pdf" target="_blank">cast their ballots</a> in that special election, with 2,646 voting for Richards.</p> <p dir="ltr">The other two elections, for District 51 in Staten Island and District 23 in Queens, were technically <a href="http://observer.com/2015/06/boe-no-nonpartisan-special-elections-for-open-city-council-seats/" target="_blank">not special elections</a>, in that they weren’t nonpartisan, but they were held this past year to replace two Council Members who resigned midway through their terms. A primary was held in September followed by the general election on November 3, Election Day. But the voter statistics are comparable.</p> <p dir="ltr">Held in a low-key election cycle in an off-year, turnout was low, but relatively higher than with Richards’ election. In District 23, there were 11,305 votes <a href="http://vote.nyc.ny.us/downloads/pdf/election_results/2015/20151103General%20Election/00402100023Queens%20Member%20of%20the%20City%20Council%2023rd%20Council%20District%20Recap.pdf" target="_blank">cast</a> (13.9 percent of the 81,027 active voters in the district), with 6,156 going to the winner, Barry Grodenchik, a Democrat.</p> <p dir="ltr">In District 51, Republican Joe Borelli <a href="http://vote.nyc.ny.us/downloads/pdf/election_results/2015/20151103General%20Election/00502100051Richmond%20Member%20of%20the%20City%20Council%2051st%20Council%20District%20Recap.pdf" target="_blank">received</a> 9,111 votes out of the 13,002 cast (14.2 percent of the 91,224 active registered <a href="http://vote.nyc.ny.us/downloads/pdf/documents/boe/EnrollmentTotals/2015/Council%20Enrollment%20Totals%204_1_2015.pdf" target="_blank">voters</a>) even though he ran unopposed.</p> <p dir="ltr">To reach out to the 71,795 active registered voters from District 17 to get them to vote in Tuesday’s special election, the Bronx-based nonprofit Nos Quedamos Community Development Corporation partnered with the New York City Campaign Finance Board’s voter engagement arm, NYC Votes.</p> <p dir="ltr">Nos Quedamos organized a community forum last month, livestreamed by BronxNet, to inform residents of del Carmen Arroyo’s resignation and to introduce the candidates who wanted to replace her. Ten of the eleven initial candidates were present.</p> <p dir="ltr">Nos Quedamos has also been holding a voter registration drive for the last two weeks, first targeting the large concentration of homeless shelters in the district, whose residents are often overlooked when it comes to registering to vote. As election day approaches, they have been focused on reaching out to the nearly 4,000 housing units in the 19 buildings in their organization’s network.</p> <p dir="ltr">“For special elections like this, (turnout) is a concern for us because it’s not on everyone’s radar,” said Jessica Clemente, CEO and president of Nos Quedamos. She said the resignation announcement being made over the holidays meant that very few people were aware that their Council representative had resigned and Nos Quedamos had little time to tell them. “Forty-five days is a blink of an eye,” Clemente said, pointing out that grassroots door-knocking is crucial in such a short time frame to inform voters and bring them to the polls.</p> <p dir="ltr">“You are always going to have low voter turnout when a special election is held,” said Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union, a good government advocacy group. “But better it’s held in an open nonpartisan way than a closed partisan way because voters at least have a choice of candidates in City Council special elections.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Citizens Union last year <a href="http://us3.campaign-archive1.com/?u=ca0fb41d668202ba6cc542ca8&amp;id=ffb274a673&amp;e=[UNIQID]" target="_blank">called</a> for state legislature vacancies to be filled through nonpartisan elections so that they are no longer “party-controlled coronations.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Dadey conceded that party support does still have a role to play in nonpartisan elections. “The major political parties still exercise a great degree of control because of their ability to pull out voters and support candidates,” he said. “But we’ve seen time and time again where the favorite candidate does not always win. So there’s an opportunity for community leaders unaffiliated with a political party to win an election.”</p> <p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;">[Related: <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/6091-special-election-spotlights-machine-politics-in-the-bronx" target="_blank">Special Election Spotlights Machine Politics in the Bronx</a>]</p> <p dir="ltr">

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p dir="ltr">Note: Gotham Gazette is an independent publication of Citizens Union Foundation, sister organization of Citizens Union.</p> <p dir="ltr">Note: this article has been updated to clarify that it is Carmen Arroyo, not Maria del Carmen Arroyo, who has endorsed Salamanca; and to add campaign finance information for candidate J. Loren Russell.</p>
Next Steps for Two Soon-To-Be-Vacant City Council Seats 2015-05-15T16:39:01+00:00 2015-05-15T16:39:01+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5726:next-steps-for-two-soon-to-be-vacant-city-council-seats Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/weprin_ignizio.jpg" alt="weprin ignizio" height="429" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">CMs Weprin, left, &amp; Ignizio, right, are both leaving the Council (photo: William Alatriste)</span></p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">City Council member Mark Weprin, a Democrat who represents part of Queens, <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/exclusive-councilman-resign-work-gov-cuomo-article-1.2217535" target="_blank">announced</a> on Monday that he will step down from his seat to join Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration as Deputy Secretary of Legislative Affairs, making him <a href="http://gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5719-at-a-chaotic-time-cuomo-hires-weprin-to-assist-in-deal-making" target="_blank">a key liaison</a> between the governor and the state Legislature, City Council, and others.</p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/weprin_ignizio.jpg" alt="weprin ignizio" height="429" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">CMs Weprin, left, &amp; Ignizio, right, are both leaving the Council (photo: William Alatriste)</span></p> <hr /> <p dir="ltr">City Council member Mark Weprin, a Democrat who represents part of Queens, <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/exclusive-councilman-resign-work-gov-cuomo-article-1.2217535" target="_blank">announced</a> on Monday that he will step down from his seat to join Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration as Deputy Secretary of Legislative Affairs, making him <a href="http://gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5719-at-a-chaotic-time-cuomo-hires-weprin-to-assist-in-deal-making" target="_blank">a key liaison</a> between the governor and the state Legislature, City Council, and others.</p>