STATE RACES
ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 69
ABOUT EYE ON ALBANY

Manhattan Valley, Morningside Heights.

GENERAL ELECTION RESULTS
Take a look at all the latest results for the November 5, 2002 general election.

x-Daniel J. O'Donnell (Dem) 20,717 - 82 percent
Kalman C. Sporn (Rep) 2,285 - 9 percent
Ari Goodman (Ind) 1,464 - 6 percent
Ronald J. MacKinnon (Gre) 731 - 3 percent

Candidates:

  • Ari Goodman (Ind)
  • Joyce Johnson (Lib)
  • Daniel O’Donnell (Dem/Wor)
  • Kalman Sporn (Rep)


BIOGRAPHIES

Ari Goodman (Ind), a lawyer, is a member of the Manhattan Borough President's Task Force, the Democratic Leadership for the 21st Century and is a board member of the Residents Coalition.

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Joyce Johnson (Lib), a former district leader, is the executive vice president of the National Women's Political Caucus. Johnson, a graduate of Howard University, is a current member and former chair of Community Board 7 and a board member of the Strycker's Bay Neighborhood Coalition. She also served as a special assistant to former Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger and as an executive assistant to former New York City Schools Chancellor Rudy Crew.

* * * * *

Daniel O'Donnell (Dem/Wor), a public interest lawyer, is a founding member of the New York City chapter of Citizen Action. O'Donnell, who attended George Washington University and CUNY Law School, is also a member of the Morning Side Heights Historic District Committee, and community board 9. Her ran for the State Assembly in 1998.


7 BILLS IMPORTANT TO NEW YORK CITY RESIDENTS THAT YOUR STATE REPRESENTATIVE IS LIKELY TO VOTE ON IN THE NEXT TERM:

1. Rent Regulation: The current rent regulation laws expire in June 2003. Supporters of rent regulation hope that the current provisions will be extended for another five years and that the legislature will repeal the provision which deregulates apartments that rent for $2,000 or more a month. The State Assembly passed such a bill this year, but it died in the Senate in the face of opposition from Majority Leader Joseph Bruno. If the Legislature does not take concerted action in June, rent regulation in New York City will end.

2. Commuter Tax: In 1999, when the State Legislature repealed the Commuter Tax, the city's economy was good. Reinstatement of the Commuter Tax is likely to come up again this Spring as the City's economy takes a turn for the worse.

3. School Funding: Even with mayoral control of the school system, more than 40 percent of New York City's school funding comes from Albany. Next year's budget will determine how much money New York City's schools will get from the state.

4. Rockefeller drug laws: New York's drug laws, passed in 1973 by Governor Nelson Rockefeller, are among the harshest in the nation. The Democratic-controlled Assembly, Republican-controlled Senate, and the Governor have not been able to agree on how to reform these laws, look for renewed negotiations and new legislation in the next term.

5. Minimum Wage: Currently set at $5.15 an hour, Democrats will likely propose raising the minimum wage to $6.75 an hour, a proposal that failed last year.

6. Sexual Orientation Non Discrimination Act: This has been floating around the New York State Legislature for 30 years, with the Governor's support, it is likely to come up for a vote again next Spring.

7. Campaign Finance Reform: Some 80 organizations have proposed a "Clean Money, Clean Elections" bill for the New York State Legislature. Like the New York City law, it would establish a system under which candidates who comply with limits on campaign spending and contributions would receive public funds for their political campaigns.


PRIMARY ELECTION - SEPTEMBER 10, 2002

Candidates:
  • Michael Brown (Dem)
  • Cynthia Doty (Dem)
  • Ari Goodman (Ind)
  • Joyce Johnson (Lib)
  • Louis Nunez (Dem)
  • Daniel O’Donnell (Dem/Wor - Primary Winner)
  • Francisco Spies (Dem)
  • Kalman Sporn (Rep)
  • Steve Strauss (Dem)

BIOGRAPHIES

Michael Brown (Dem), ran in 2001 against Gale Brewer for City Council district 6. Works in New York City Administrative Services as an examination proctor for police officer and transit employee exams.

Cynthia Doty (Dem) has served as a special assistant to New York State Assemblyman Ed Sullivan for the past eight years. She moved to New York in 1974 after receiving her Masters degree in theatre at Emerson College in Boston. She is active on boards of her block association, the Interfaith Assembly on Housing and Homelessness and the Friends of CUNY.

Ari Goodman (Ind), a lawyer, is a member of the Manhattan Borough President's Task Force, the Democratic Leadership for the 21st Century and is a board member of the Residents Coalition.

Joyce Johnson (Lib), a former district leader, is the executive vice president of the National Women's Political Caucus. Johnson, a graduate of Howard University, is a current member and former chair of Community Board 7 and a board member of the Strycker's Bay Neighborhood Coalition. She also served as a special assistant to former Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger and as an executive assistant to former New York City Schools Chancellor Rudy Crew.

Louis M. Nunez (Dem), currently not working, has chosen to dedicate himself full-time towards his campaign. He has previously worked as a teacher, and tobacco company marketing/sales manager. Most recently Mr. Nunez has run a dental products business. He attended CUNY, and is a spokesperson for the NYS Federation of Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, founder of New Alliance for Fair Rents, member of the Communication Group for Improvement of Society, a health oriented group, member of Broadway Mall Association, and member of the Latino Anti-Alcohol and Drug Association. He has previously run for the 69th district seat in 2000.

Daniel O'Donnell (Dem/Wor), a public interest lawyer, is a founding member of the New York City chapter of Citizen Action. O'Donnell, who attended George Washington University and CUNY Law School, is also a member of the Morning Side Heights Historic District Committee, and community board 9. Her ran for the State Assembly in 1998.

Francisco Spies is a 19 year-old high school student.

Steve Strauss (Dem) is the vice president of the Broadway Mall Association, which raises funds for supplemental horticultural and maintenance work on landscaped malls along Broadway. Strauss is a graduate of Dartmouth College, and attended Columbia University's Graduate School of Business, earning his Master's in Business Administration in 1978. After earning his business degree, Strauss accepted a position with the New York City Office of Management and Budget. He has also worked for the Metropolitan Transit Authority. Strauss is a member of the Three Parks Independent Democratic Club, the Empire State Pride Agenda and the Human Rights Campaign.


CAMPAIGN FEATURE

TRYING TO STAND OUT IN A CROWD OF EIGHT

When Assemblymember Ed Sullivan, a 26-year veteran of the New York State legislature, announced his retirement, a mad scramble for his seat commenced among Democratic political hopefuls on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

Eight are running in the Democratic primary for the 69th State Assembly district, which stretches north of Lincoln Center and west of Central Park, including much of the Upper West Side, Morningside Heights and Manhattan Valley. These neighborhoods are among the wealthier in the city, and Columbia University adds Ivy League status to the mix. Still, the district has its problems, including insufficient housing, poor public schools, health care failures, and the recent loss of 'mom and pop' stores to large chains.

Five of the candidates discussed the issues; three were unavailable.

HOUSING

In 2003 rent stabilization laws will be expire and the state's legislators will decide whether regulations should be continued, expanded, limited, or even eliminated altogether. Because of widespread tenant worries about the disappearance of rent regulation, all the interviewed candidates said that rent stabilization laws should be extended for another five years. In addition, all say that Mitchell-Lama program for middle-income subsidized housing should be revived.

"Take some of the money that's being spent to build new housing, and use it to give to landlords from older housing as an incentive to keep the apartment house rent-stabilized," suggested Ari Goodman.

Daniel O'Donnell spoke about expanding the Mitchell-Lama program throughout the state and giving tax incentives to builders whose developments contain rent-stabilized apartments. O'Donnell is a public interest lawyer and a member of Community Board 9 and the Morningside Heights Historic District Committee.

Louis Nunez, a former teacher and businessman, spoke out against luxury decontrol, a loophole in the current rent regulations that allows landlords to deregulate apartments that rent for $2000 or more. Through renovations to vacant apartments, landlords can increase rents to this level without too much difficulty.

EDUCATION

The state legislature recently handed the reins to the city's school system to Mayor Michael Bloomberg who abolished the Board of Education and appointed a new chancellor.

"The educational system in New York was broken; clearly it needed to be fixed," said Daniel O'Donnell, approving of the change in school governance. Most of the other candidates agreed that the change was long overdue, although some had reservations about it.

Cynthia Doty said she has worked with retiring Assemblymember Ed Sullivan on educational issues for the past eight years. In her experience, she said, increasing parental involvement is one of the best ways to improve the quality of a child's education.

Louis Nunez proposed a New York City lottery, with revenues going strictly to city schools and after-school homework centers. He expressed dismay that not enough money from the New York State Lottery was going to the school system, for which it was supposedly established.

In order to generate more funding for education, O'Donnell proposed reorganizing the current property tax model, which provides much of the money for schools. He suggested instead using an income tax model. " If somebody was in the circumstance normally they made $100,000 and the next year they made $50,000, they wouldn't be paying the same real estate tax for their kids to get educated," he said.

Goodman called for greater awareness of special programs available to all public school students. "Every family that has children should be sent letters about special schools, honors programs, etc. However, not all of these people read, so public service announcements should be done to let them know -- on radio, television, Spanish television. Lower income people don't find out about these programs," he said.

HEALTH CARE

Steve Strauss, Ari Goodman, and Daniel O'Donnell spoke of expanding new state-subsidized programs, such as Child Health Plus, Family Health Plus, and Healthy NY, which provide health insurance to low and middle income New Yorkers.

Cynthia Doty said that the 69th district has a huge problem with senior citizens who can't afford prescription drugs. She proposed increasing prescription drug benefits, but did not specify how. She also pointed to failing service at St. Luke's Hospital, located on Amsterdam Avenue. It is the only hospital in the area, she said, and is understaffed. This should be changed quickly, she said, before the hospital goes under.

Louis Nunez believes that mental health issues deserve more attention. If more aid were provided to those with social or emotional problems, he said, other ills such as alcoholism, drug addiction, and domestic violence could be better controlled, or even prevented.

TRANSPORTATION, CHAIN STORES, THE ENVIRONMENT, MINIMUM WAGE, ETC.

The candidates for the 69th Assembly District proposed many other plans for a better district, city, and state.

Steve Strauss, formerly of the New York City Office of Management and Budget and an 18-year veteran of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said that an expert in the transportation field was much needed in the State Assembly. He pointed out that the current heads of the transportation committees have little or no experience in the field, and thus can not supply the city with efficient transportation policy. Strauss also mentioned that the city was not getting enough funding from the state for things like infrastructure and education.

Louis Nunez made a case against commercialization in the 69th district. "New York City is not a mall. We were built on mom and pop stores. I don't want to be New Jersey, I don't want to be Long Island, I want to be the Upper West Side," he said, referring to the recent influx of chain stores such as Duane Reade and CVS.

Similarly, Ari Goodman spoke of "the way a community looks and feels." He said that developers should be held accountable for the parks they eradicate while constructing new buildings. In return for a community board's approval of their building plans, they should be required to build community public gardens on the roofs of the new buildings for all neighbors to enjoy.

Spurred by the loss of his mother to cancer in a Long Island neighborhood where a disproportionate number of people have the disease. Daniel O'Donnell spoke about harmful environmental impacts of commercial facilities. He has investigated the links between environment and health and says the community "needs some sort of notification plan when potentially harmful facilities are being built." If elected, he said, he would propose a law requiring scientific studies on the impact of harmful facilities on an area, and make such reports readily available to the public.

Most of the candidates also expressed interest in raising the state minimum wage and supported hate crimes legislation, which would create higher penalties for offenses committed out of hate on the basis of age, sex, gender, religion etc. Another issue that all supported was the Women's Health Bill, which would mandate that private insurance companies cover services such as mammograms and emergency contraception. And all candidates called for the reinstatement of the commuter tax to help New York City deal with its increasing budget deficit.

AN INTERCONNECTED FIELD OF CANDIDATES

The candidates share similar stances on the main issues; furthermore, they maintain close political ties.

  • Retiring Assemblyman Ed Sullivan is endorsing Daniel O'Donnell. But Sullivan and Cynthia Doty worked together for eight years.
  • Steve Strauss is running from the Three Parks Independent Democratic Club, which almost sponsored O'Donnell.
  • Joyce Johnson is head of Community Board 7, neighbor of Community Board 9, in which O'Donnell is a very active member. Both have control over the 69th district.
  • Louis Nunez is a member of the Broadway Mall Association, while Steve Strauss is its vice president.

--posted August 26,2002


September 8, 2002

The politics on the Upper West Side of Manhattan is noted for its tradition of Democratic liberalism and intense political activism. There, the race to succeed Assemblyman Edward C. Sullivan has produced a wide-ranging group of candidates, each jostling for recognition in a crowded field. (New York Times)

August 1, 2002

The Westsider: interview with Louis Nunez, candidate in Democratic Primary for State Assembly on the Upper West Side. (no link available)

July 25, 2002

The Westsider: interviews with Steve Strauss and Cynthia Doty candidates in Democratic Primary for State Assembly on the Upper West Side. (no link available)

July 23, 2002

The Westsider: interviews with Ari Goodman and Daniel O'Donnell, candidates in Democratic Primary for State Assembly on the Upper West Side. (no link available)

July 20, 2002

There is a new found feeling of community in the gay political sphere. Article talks about the supportive nature of gay community in helping candidates start campaign. Candidate Daniel O'Donnell gets support from Assemb. Deborah Glick of the New York State Assembly, its only openly gay member. Such a movement, to involve more openly gay people in government, may help create a better reflection of New York City constituents than currently exist in Albany. The Westsider, June 20-26, p.11

Eye On Albany 2002 is a guide to the races for the 91 seats of the New York State Legislature that represent residents of New York City.

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