STATE RACES
ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 73
ABOUT EYE ON ALBANY

East side of Manhattan

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

x-Jonathan L. Bing (Dem) 14,701 - 50 percent
Gail Hilson (Rep) 14,156 - 48 percent
Kirk A. Swanson (Wor) 552 - 2 percent

Candidates:

  • Jonathan Bing (Dem)
  • Gail Hilson (Rep/Ind/Lib)
  • Kirk Swanson (Wor)


CAMPAIGN FEATURE

Democrat Jonathan Bing and Republican Gail Hilson, who are running for the 73rd Assembly District on the East Side of Manhattan, agree on many issues.

Both want to reinstate the commuter tax. Both say they will fight for rent control. Neither wants to raise taxes. And both want better transportation, including the Second Avenue subway. How will voters differentiate between these two candidates? It may depend on whom they think will get the most done in Albany.

Bing, who served as Democratic State Committeeman for the 73rd Assembly District, hopes his experience as a Democratic Party official will enable him to work effectively with the majority in the Assembly. Hilson, on the other hand, hopes to leverage her connections as a supporter of both Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor George Pataki to bring resources to her district.

Bing said he would make education his top priority. "I think education to people on the East Side is the most significant issue I can address," Bing said. He also lists affordable prescriptions drugs for seniors and rent control as his main issues.

Hilson believes that the legislative process in Albany must be reformed and until it does, the issues -- like education, housing, and rent control -- will not be addressed. "If the legislature can't do its work to represent the citizens," said Hilson, "it can't accomplish any one of those things on that list."

Bing has been working on the campaign full-time since late last March. He said that his fundraising and primary win over Kirk Swanson, who remains in the race as the Working Families Party candidate but is not actively campaigning, exceeded even the expectations of his own staff.

"My contributions have come from individuals and small and large businesses, people who care about me and care about the district," Bing said.

Hilson is also pleased with her fundraising and campaign efforts. One morning, Republican U.S. Senator John McCain even showed up to shake hands with voters at a subway stop. Hilson also has the support of outgoing Republican Assemblymember John Ravitz. Ravitz says Hilson's independence and connections to the mayor and governor will help. "She can pick up the phone and call the mayor and governor directly, clearly a benefit to the constituents of the 73rd," said Ravitz.

-Posted October 23, 2002


BIOGRAPHIES

Jonathan Bing (Dem), an attorney, is a graduate of New York University Law School and the University of Pennsylvania. Bing, who has served as a law clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Bruce M. Van Sickle, was elected as the New York Democratic State Committeeman for the 73rd Assembly District in September of 2000. He is a member of Community Board 6, Bellevue Hospital Community Advisory Board, and the East Mid-Manhattan Business Improvement District Board.

Gail Hilson (Rep/Ind/Lib), a graduate of Marymount College, is a former businesswoman who once worked for Clinique Laboratories. Hilson became a licensed real estate broker in 1985 and, in 1999, founded Healy Hilson Dialogues, a company that produces biographical videos. She serves on the boards of the Society of Memorial Sloane-Kettering Cancer Center and the Breast Cancer Research Center. Hilson is a former board member of the Women's Committee of the Central Park Conservancy, Marymount College and WISH List, a political action committee that supports pro-choice Republican candidates.

Kirk Swanson (Dem/Wor), who works for the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, received his undergraduate degree from Hunter College and his graduate degree from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. Swanson is involved with Community Board 6, and serves on the New York State AFL-CIO's Prescription Drug Task Force and Unemployment Insurance Task Force. He ran as a candidate in the primary for State Assembly in 2000.


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:
  • Jonathan Bing (Dem - Primary Winner)
  • Zachary Greenhill (Dem)
  • Gail Hilson (Rep/Ind/Lib)
  • Jerome Polansky (Dem)
  • Kirk Swanson (Wor)

BIOGRAPHIES

Jonathan Bing (Dem), an attorney, is a graduate of New York University Law School and the University of Pennsylvania. Bing, who has served as a law clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Bruce M. Van Sickle, was elected as the New York Democratic State Committeeman for the 73rd Assembly District in September of 2000. He is a member of Community Board 6, Bellevue Hospital Community Advisory Board, and the East Mid-Manhattan Business Improvement District Board.

Zachary Greenhill (Dem), who served an assistant district attorney under Bob Morgenthau, is a graduate of Hofstra University's School of Law and Dartmouth College. Greenhill, a lawyer with a private practice, is the co-chair of the Youth Committee of Community Board 8, sits on the board of directors for the Alzheimer's Association's New York City Chapter and is a trustee of Temple Israel.

Gail Hilson (Rep/Ind/Lib), a graduate of Marymount College, is a former businesswoman who once worked for Clinique Laboratories. Hilson became a licensed real estate broker in 1985 and, in 1999, founded Healy Hilson Dialogues, a company that produces biographical videos. She serves on the boards of the Society of Memorial Sloane-Kettering Cancer Center and the Breast Cancer Research Center. Hilson is a former board member of the Women's Committee of the Central Park Conservancy, Marymount College and WISH List, a political action committee that supports pro-choice Republican candidates.

Jerome Polansky (Dem) was born and raised on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. He has been a member of Community Board 8 since 1996 and has served as the Chair of the Health and Senior Services Committee. Polansky also published three magazines for students "Manhattan Prep", "Campus Issues" and "Megaphone". Polanksy is a graduate of Columbia University, the Horace Mann School and St. Bernard's School.

Kirk Swanson (Dem/Wor), who works for the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, received his undergraduate degree from Hunter College and his graduate degree from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. Swanson is involved with Community Board 6, and serves on the New York State AFL-CIO's Prescription Drug Task Force and Unemployment Insurance Task Force. He ran as a candidate in the primary for State Assembly in 2000.


CAMPAIGN FEATURE

With the exit of six-term Assemblymember John Ravitz, the 73rd State Assembly race is filled with candidates hoping to capitalize on this open seat. Yet, while the candidates generally agree on which are the core issues in the race -- education, security, health, transportation, and election reform -- they have different views on how to address those issues and they bring different backgrounds to their candidacies.

EDUCATION

All of the candidates agree that education is a critically important issue affecting residents of the Upper East Side, as it is with all New Yorkers. Each candidate opposes vouchers and advocates increased funding for NYC's public schools. Zachary Greenhill supports a state personal income tax surcharge, with the proceeds to be spent exclusively on education. Jonathan Bing, who calls education his "number 1, 2, and 3 issue," is opposed to any tax increase (except for reinstatement of the commuter tax, a move favored by all the candidates) and, in fact, wants to create a tax-credit for teachers, so they can better afford to continue their own education or that of their children or spouse. Gail Hilson, the Republican candidate (who will face the winner of the Democratic primary in November), wants to create at least one neighborhood high school that is academically challenging and to give entrance priority to area families. Kirk Swanson also believes NYC schools are underfunded, but he says the core problem stems from the insufficient bargaining power of those seeking to reform the state education system relative to those who control it.

SECURITY

In the wake of 9/11, there is heightened concern among NYC residents about security and public safety issues. This is a critical issue for Gail Hilson, who advocates improved communication among police, fire, and other emergency response departments. Hilson says that her close relationship with Governor George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg will help her more easily spearhead the state's efforts on this and other important issues. Zachary Greenhill emphasizes that, as a former CIA employee and prosecutor in the NYC District Attorney's office, he is the only candidate with national security and crime fighting experience. Jonathan Bing points out that he is the only candidate with experience in security-related matters post 9/11, as he was the New York coordinator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Disaster Legal Services Program, which provided free legal advice to people affected by 9/11, and an organizer of an upper east side forum on security matters. Kirk Swanson says the other candidates are playing politics with the security issue, as he believes the state has little or no role to play in this area. He says that the candidates must be honest about the parameters of their role as a state legislator, and security is simply not within this purview. All of the candidates expressed concerns about balancing the need for enhanced security with ensuring the continued protection of individual civil liberties.

HEALTH

With exponentially rising health care costs and more than two million NYC residents lacking health insurance, health care is a central issue for the candidates in the 73rd Assembly district. All of the candidates believe the Family Health Plus and Children's Health Plus programs should be expanded and prescription drugs should be made more readily accessible to those in need, though their positions on other health issues vary somewhat. Several of the candidates stress their health-related backgrounds. In addition to lowering the minimum health coverage requirements, Bing wants to expand health care coverage by providing better health coverage information to residents and making such information more readily available. Hilson brings experience on health-related issues as a Board Member of the Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and as a supporter of the Women's Health and Wellness Act recently signed into law at the state level. Swanson emphasizes the need to limit the "enormous political influence" of the drug companies. Greenhill, a member of the Board of Directors of the Alzheimer's Association's New York City Chapter, emphasizes his support for the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurtance Coverage Program (EPIC) and believes all prescription drugs should be covered by EPIC.

TRANSPORTATION

Transportation, particularly the prospects for a Second Avenue subway, is always a key issue for residents of the Upper East Side. The positions of all the candidates reflect the desire of most residents that something be done to reduce East Side subway traffic congestion. Kirk Swanson says that because he is chairman of the Central Labor Council's Second Avenue Subway Task Force (the Central Labor Council represents 1.5 million union members), he is in the best position to build the necessary grass roots support for the project citywide. Not surprisingly, the other candidates also support the construction of a full-length Second Avenue subway, but they differ somewhat in how they would pay for it. Jonathan Bing would lobby to supplement existing federally designated funds with more federal funds and would consider using some of the proceeds from a reinstituted commuter tax for the project. Zachary Greenhill says he would rely on money raised from a reinstituted commuter tax. Unlike the other candidates, Gail Hilson would seek private sector funding for the project, building, she says, on her experience as a mayoral appointee to the New York City Public-Private Initiatives, Inc.

ELECTION REFORM

Due to the rising costs of political campaigning and the uniquely complicated electoral process in New York State, the candidates want to make the political process more accessible through campaign finance reform and other measures. Greenhill believes that the NYC campaign finance system, which includes 4-to-1 public matching funds, a ban on corporate contributions, registration of political action committees (PACs), strict spending limits, etc., should be applied on the state level and is refusing any contributions from unregistered PACs in his campaign. Bing supports the goal of public financing of state campaigns, but he insists that the economic impact of such a plan must be seriously studied, especially in the current unstable economic period. Hilson says she has fought to reform the often criticized New York ballot access laws and promises to help eliminate the conflicts of interest that exist between legislators, lobbyists and corporations. Swanson believes in fundamental political reform at the state level, and has made a proposal that calls for full public funding of political campaigns, greater empowerment of state legislative committees, and establishment of an independent redistricting committee for the new state redistricting process in 2012.

--posted August 26,2002

October 6, 2002

Gail Hilson, 60, is one of New York City's social lions, a fund-raiser for causes like breast cancer, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the Central Park Conservancy. This summer, in an announcement that surely sent some of her friends straight to the fourth floor of Bergdorf's for a nerve-steadying shot of cashmere, she became the Republican Party candidate for State Assembly in the 73rd District, the heart of the Silk Stocking district. (New York Times)

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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