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The Nod of the Bosses... Scramble for the City Council... Basic Training for Council Recruits... How They Stack up on Term Limit... Dynasties... The Speech that Saved Term Limits...


What is Searchlight on Campaign 2001?
Searchlight on Campaign 2001 is a guide to the political races in what many are calling New York City's most significant campaign season in modern history.

What is so significant about it?
For the first time in memory, most political offices in the city will be wide open to people who have neither money nor connections.

Why will the races be so open?
There are two reasons. This year, a new law goes into effect that limits the terms of New York City elected officials, forcing the mass retirement of most incumbents in the city - including the mayor, the comptroller, the public advocate, four of the five borough presidents, and 36 of the 51 members of the City Council. At the same time, a new campaign finance law kicks in, which allows any candidate who agrees to certain restrictions to collect four dollars of matching funds for every dollar they raise.

What does this have to do with this site?
As a public service, Searchlight on Campaign 2001 has a separate page for each race, including all the races for City Council, that not only sorts out the candidates -- many of them new and unfamiliar -- but also offers an opportunity to learn about the issues, and the districts themselves.

Who is behind Searchlight on Campaign 2001?
Searchlight on Campaign 2001 is a project of Gotham Gazette, a non-profit, non-partisan, non-ideological (but non-boring) web site about New York City news, policy and politics published by Citizens Union Foundation, part of the oldest and largest good-government group in the city (founded in 1897).

What's wrong with the way the regular press covers the races?
That is for you to decide. And one of our regular features, Campaign Trail, helps you to decide. Campaign Trail provides succinct summaries and links to campaign articles in the commercial press.

Who are we?


April Campaign Trail

May Campaign Trail

Elected officials throughout the city admit to having a great deal of difficulty in choosing whom to endorse in this year's Democratic primary for mayor. Most have good relationships with all four candidates, and there is no clear frontrunner. (NY Times)

Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer will be on the steps of City Hall this morning at 11:30 accompanied by Al Sharpton to condemn the Bush Administration's decision to resume bombing on the island of Vieques, a small island off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico. Over the weekend, Ferrer called on Public Advocate Mark Green, City Comptroller Alan Hevesi, and City Council Speaker Peter Vallone to join him for another news conference later this week condemning the action.

Michael Bloomberg may not yet be an official mayoral candidate, but he is already traveling with an entourage. At his first campaign-style appearance last week, on Staten Island, the billionaire businessman showed up with four political aides in tow: spokesman Bill Cunningham, a veteran political strategist; former Bloomberg columnist Jonathan Capehart, now a campaign issues adviser; ex-Vallone aide Kathy Cudahy, also an issues adviser; and former Giuliani political operative Vinnie La Padula, a field coordinator. (Crain's NY Business)

With term limits remaking City Hall, labor unions are mobilizing to play an unprecedented role in this fall's municipal elections, seeking to maintain and even increase their influence over city government for years to come. (Daily News)

Kenny Kramer, a former stand-up comic who was the real-life inspiration for the character from the sitcom Seinfeld, was nominated by the Libertarian Party yesterday as their candidate for mayor of New York. (NY Post)

City Councilmember Angel Rodriguez from Sunset Park wants to succeed Peter Vallone as City Council Speaker. So do Manhattan Council members Bill Perkins, Phil Reed and Gifford Miller. But people running for City Council are also thought to be eyeing the Speakership, including Bedford-Stuyvesant's Al Vann, Williamsburg's Steve Cohn, Forest Hills' Melinda Katz and Bayside's Arthur Cheliotes. They have to win the race for City Council first of course. (Daily News)

Public Advocate Mark Green says he's prepared to scuttle any last-minute contracts Mayor Giuliani signs that lock in the next mayor, but aren't in the "public interest." Giuliani said this week he's intent on signing contracts with the Yankees and Mets, and possibly even the Jets, for new sports arenas before his term expires on December 31. Green conceded it would be tough to overturn a legitimate deal. (NY Post)

Mayoral candidate Mark Green gathers endorsements from two police advocacy groups: 100 Latinos in Law Enforcement and 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement. (Daily News)

It has been a quarter century since the office of Brooklyn Borough President changed hands. Finally, the Times says, we have a interesting race. (New York Times)

In one of the first direct clashes between Democratic mayoral candidates, Council Speaker Peter Vallone attacked Public Advocate Mark Green for being too critical of police and for trying to hide his "ultraliberal roots." (New York Times)

Peter Vallone has a new web site: If that sounds familiar, it should: "mebq" is his rival Alan Hevesi' slogan ("most experienced, best qualified"). Hevesi's campaign web site is at "" (Daily News)

Public Advocate Mark Green officially declared that he will run for Mayor and promised to cut school class sizes, create new jobs, and advocate for public transportation. (New York Times)

As the mayoral races heats up, the candidates are finding that ethnic politics are growing more complicated. (Village Voice)

Three candidates‹Lew Fidler, Abraham Levy, and Phyllis Taliaferro--set their sights on district 46 City Council seat. (Daily News)

After eight years in which he's had a close relationship with the mayor, Liberal Party leader Raymond Harding ponders how he can wield power in the post-Giuliani era. (New York Times)

Alan Hevesi seems to be everywhere as he campaigns for mayor and tries to alter a perception that he is too easy on Mayor Giuliani and too indifferent to the demands and concerns of the city's minorities. (New York Times)

Michael Bloomberg has already made clear that he will not participate in public financing. Now, he says, if elected mayor, he will forgo the $195,000 annual salary. "I've thought about this, and if I were mayor, I wouldn't take more than $1 a year from the city." That is because he considers being mayor of New York one of the four best jobs in the world. The other three are president of the United States, president of the World Bank, and secretary-general of the United Nations, and those three are taken. (Newsweek)

"After a decade of division by race, by class, by ethnicity and by borough, it is now essential we unite as a city," Mark Green told about 250 worshipers at St. Luke African Methodist Episcopal Church on Amsterdam Avenue in another busy Sunday for all four Democratic mayoral candidates. "We have to cross racial and class lines to speak to one New York." Green plans to announce formally for mayor tomorrow. (NY Times)

Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has touted workfare as a way to "end welfare," and he has taken pride that the number of New Yorkers receiving assistance has fallen by more than 50 percent since 1993, the year before he took office. Under workfare, welfare recipients are required to work part time at unpaid jobs for a few months at a time in exchange for their benefits. But the four leading Democrats vying to replace Giuliani as mayor all agree the system will not succeed in the long run unless it helps people receive job training or education while on welfare. All four said they would retain workfare, but modify it in various ways, and would let recipients substitute an internship, vocational training or a part-time job for a workfare stint. The Giuliani administration forbids such substitutions in the belief that workfare fosters a work ethic missing from the lives of many welfare recipients. (Newsday)

The first Democratic debate in the Brooklyn Borough president's race last Wednesday was missing one of the candidates - Flatbush state Senator Martin Markowitz, who didn't show up until after Councilman Kenneth Fisher and current Borough Hall aide Jeannette Gadson had left the stage. Their one difference came on the state transportation bond voted down last November. Fisher opposed the measure. (Daily News)

Comptroller Alan Hevesi's efforts to appeal to black voters got a boost yesterday from Congressman Charles Rangel, who invited the mayoral candidate to join him in a bash-the-mayor session in Harlem. (Daily News)

Public Advocate Mark Green and his wife earned $419,337 last year, according to tax returns he released yesterday. The combined earnings of Green and his wife, Deni Frand, a public relations executive, top those of his three main rivals for the Democratic mayoral nomination. The Greens' earnings nearly match the $458,683 income reported by Mayor Giuliani and his estranged wife, Donna Hanover. The reported joint earnings of the other three Democratic candidates and their wives are as follows: Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, $216,680; Controller Alan Hevesi, $207,080, and Council Speaker Peter Vallone, $173,755. (Daily News)

For decades, political candidates have blurred - if not crossed - the lines between their dual roles as public officials and candidates, using the clout and government resources at their disposal to remind voters to keep them in office. But nowhere, perhaps, has the distinction between candidate and official become murkier than in this year's mayoral race. In recent weeks there have been staged events that clearly stretch the boundaries of office duties, as the candidates at times use city staff or staff-prepared reports, mailings and other city-financed products to help them get their names out there at little or no cost to their campaigns. (NY Times)

Mayor Rudy Giuliani attacked mayoral candidate Alan Hevesi for what the mayor said were attacks on the Police Department, and for his ill-advised refusal to rule out a tax increase to pay for improvements in schools. Giuliani also made it clear that his staff and supporters were not to give Mr. Hevesi's campaign any political or financial support. (NY Times)

Trying to build backing for his likely mayoral bid as a Republican, Michael Bloomberg has been talking with associates of Lenora Fulani, "Marxist perennial fringe candidate," about landing the endorsement of the city Independence Party, both camps confirmed yesterday. Three of the four Democratic candidates (all but Peter Vallone) have ruled out seeking the party's endorsement, as did Hillary Clinton during her campaign for senator. (Daily News)

Mayoral hopeful Fernando Ferrer pledged to cut working students' tuition by half at the City University of New York's community colleges, as he charged that Mayor Giuliani's reforms have abandoned minority students. Of the mayor's push to end open admissions and remedial education, Ferrer said "I don't think he ever meant to raise the standards. "I think he meant, 'Shut the door.' " (Daily News)

Mayor Giuliani lately has been attacking the Democratic candidates for mayor, defending his legacy, and hinting of his like for, and likely endorsement of, likely Republican candidate Michael Bloomberg. (Daily News)

The mayor said yesterday that he would initiate legislation to ban investment firms that handle money for the city's pension funds from making campaign contributions to political candidates. The mayor's comments were a direct assault on a favorite target, City Comptroller Hevesi, who had approved just such an investment in 1998 from a fund controlled by the Fisher real estate family. Last year alone, the family gave Hevesi more than $92,000 in contributions for his mayoral campaign. (NY Times)

City Comptroller Alan Hevesi approved the investment of $130 million in city pension funds in a private equity fund controlled by one of his top financial supporters in 1998, even though the company was only three years old and had little in the way of a track record. (New York Observer)

As Fernando Ferrer takes on his second campaign for mayor, he is using a far different approach from his three main rivals for the Democratic nomination. In his effort to become the city's first mayor of Puerto Rican descent, he is aiming squarely at what he considers the missteps and missed opportunities of the Giuliani administration, portraying it as tone deaf to the city's minority and less-affluent residents. They are so left out of the benefits of Giuliani's New York, Ferrer says, that they make up a second New York: "Measure what has happened during the past eight years. Measure it by the deep divisions in our city today - the divide between our police force and the communities they serve; the educational divide that robs our children; the economic divide, prevalent in communities of color, a divide widened by the injustices and lack of opportunity in communities like the Bronx all across this town." (NY Times)

Alan Hevesi has spent so little on his campaign that his rivals for mayor have asked the Campaign Finance Board to scrutinize his finances. Though by January Hevesi had raised a total of $6.1 million, compared to only $3.5 million by each of his three rivals, he reported spending only $402,565 since the election cycle began in 1998. Peter Vallone, by comparison, had spent $996,665 by mid-January; Fernando Ferrer, $894,408; Mark Green, $651,012 (NY Times )

On Monday night at Gracie Mansion, Mayor Giuliani, a Republican, flirted openly with Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire Democrat-turned-Republican who is in fervent pursuit of the mayor's support. "Michael, welcome to Gracie Mansion," Giuliani teased, singling out the likely candidate from the crowd during formal remarks at a reception. (NY Times)

Opponents urge Al Vann to stay in the assembly, and scrap his bid for City Council. (Daily News)

RFK Jr. and Mark Green in Bed-Stuy. Green's 22-page report, "Community Entrepreneurial Development," which was released yesterday, called for spreading out economic development dollars among all five boroughs. Government money is concentrated in Manhattan, he said. He proposed appointing a deputy mayor for economic and community development and called for job creation in neighborhoods such as Bedford-Stuyvesant and East New York in Brooklyn and Far Rockaway in Queens. (Daily News)

After a month of considering a run for mayor as the Conservative Party candidate, National Review editor Rich Lowry, 32, told Conservative Party leader Michael Long that he is not interested. (Daily News)

Fifty-eight percent of New Yorkers in a poll conducted for the Post said they want the next mayor to follow Giuliani's path, while 39 percent said they favor a change in direction. (NY Post)

No woman is running for mayor of New York City this year; no woman has been mayor or governor of the state. Hillary Clinton is the first woman to be senator, and only Betsy. Gotbaum and one of her many opponents for public advocate, Councilwoman Kathryn E. Freed of Manhattan, are trying for a citywide job. New York has elected several women to Congress and the State Legislature, two women are borough presidents and more are seeking boroughwide jobs and City Council positions. But when it comes to the most powerful political jobs, the city and state do not measure up. Chicago, San Francisco and other cities have elected women as mayors, and 41 women in 22 states are considering running for governor. (NY Times)

Thirty-five years after Senator Robert F. Kennedy paid a famous visit to Bedford-Stuyvesant and urged community economic development, his son Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will return for a tour of the neighborhood today. He will be accompanying Public Advocate Mark Green, who will hold a press conference in which he lays out his plans for job growth in city neighborhoods such as Bed-Stuy. These will include tax incentives, public-private partnerships, cutting red tape, and capitalizing on new technologies.

Michael Bloomberg, this divorced billionaire with an Upper East Side townhouse, an art-filled London home, a house in Bermuda, a weekend place in Westchester, a private plane, and a company helicopter he flies himself, thinks he should be the next mayor of New York. And though it's hard to imagine a man who has a box at Ascot and is driven around town in a chauffeured gray Cadillac Fleetwood working the kielbasa circuit, he insists he's looking forward to visiting senior-citizen centers in the Bronx and shaking hands on the Staten Island ferry. Ask him if he ever rides the subway, and he reaches for his wallet and triumphantly pulls out a MetroCard. Michael Bloomberg, regular guy? "I like meeting people," he says. "I love people. Although I'm sure if I run, by the end of the summer, I'll say I miss the old days, when I could play golf on the weekend." Bloomberg's quest to be the first billionaire ever to run an American city is a civics lesson in how the rich do things differently. (New York Magazine)

Profile of Fernando Ferrer, who is positioning himself as the "anti-Rudy" candidate (NY Post)

The Kings Highway Democratic Club of Brooklyn, which twice backed Giuliani for mayor, is poised to back Mark Green. (Daily News)

Candidates are busiest on Sunday, since it is a slow news day (proven by the existence of this article?) so they have more chance of getting all-important media coverage - even when they are just repeating plans and reports they introduced mid-week, or months ago. (New York Times)

Victor Gotbaum, retired labor leader, spends his time trying to help his wife Betsy Gotbaum become the next public advocate. (New York Times)

Errol Louis, a candidate for the City Council seat in district 35, currently held by Mary Pinkett, says Brooklyn Democratic leader Clarence Norman suggested he drop out of that crowded race in return for a possible job in a Hevesi administration. Norman, whose candidate in the race is Letitia James, denies he made such an offer. (NY Post)

Democratic mayoral candidate Alan Hevesi cut his ties yesterday to Bruce Teitelbaum, Mayor Giuliani's top political aide and a Hevesi supporter who had suggested in The Jewish Week that Jews would not be welcome at City Hall if Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer were elected mayor. (Daily News)

Hevesi to Bloomberg: Show us your taxes. (NY Times)

An aide to the mayor, Bruce Teitelbaum, said that the election of Fernando Ferrer as mayor would be bad for the Jews. 'I think what we're seeing now is that if Ferrer wins, his administration will be stocked with David Dinkins retreads,' said Teitelbaum, Giuliani's former chief of staff, who now runs his political action committee. 'If you ask leading figures in the Jewish community who are engaged in social services about how they were treated during the Dinkins administration, they will say 'not well,' ' said Teitelbaum. 'Why would it be different now that key players in the Dinkins administration are rearing their heads in a possible Ferrer administration?' (The Jewish Week)

The Ferrer camp rebuked Teitelbaum for being divisive, but so did Alan Hevesi, for whom Teitelbaum has raised funds.(Newsday)

"Peter Fortunate Vallone's early strategy is to present himself as the only candidate who has the hands-on executive experience for the job. He is the one, he says, who has ruled 51 irascible City Council members with a forceful hand, and who has at times managed to calm down a high-strung mayor. He is also the one, he says, who has been involved in every important issue of city government for the past quarter-century, and who has shepherded crucial legislation, like the city's campaign finance and antismoking laws, through a more relevant Council." One big obstacle for Vallone "may be proving that a man with a reputation as a cautious, clubhouse- style politician has the fire to do the job." He is certainly capable of being not-so-nice when assessing his rivals: On City Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi, "What does Alan do besides paying bills?" On Mark Green, the public advocate, whom Mr. Vallone said he liked, "I'm probably the only one who does." And later, "Mark just criticizes, issues press releases, but is not involved in day-to-day government." On Fernando Ferrer of the Bronx, "I made Freddy borough president." (NY Times)

Green: Make downtown Brooklyn an economic hub of New York. (NY Times)

Donald Wooten, son of the outgoing incumbent Patricia Wooten, faces strong competition in district 42 (Daily News)

This week, all four major Democratic mayoral candidates have been trying to persuade voters they would keep crime down while also easing tension between the police and the public. Yesterday, Saikou Diallo -- the father of Amadou Diallo, the unarmed immigrant vendor who died in 1999 after police fired 41 bullets at him --appeared with Public Advocate Mark Green to praise his record on speaking out against police abuse and to support his plan for reform. He said he was not there to endorse his candidacy. "This isn't political." (Newsday) (NY Post)

Adolfo Carrion is going to leave the City Council and run for Bronx Borough President. (Crain's NY)

Women politicians say sexism in New York political circles is virulent and pervasive and undoubtedly a factor in why no woman is running for mayor this year. (Village Voice)

Former mayoral candidate Ruth Messinger and one-time vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro endorsed Fernando Ferrer for mayor, as did Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez and Hazel Dukes, former New York chapter president of the NAACP. Since Ferraro was once a Congresswoman from Queens, her endorsement was seen as something of a slap against Alan Hevesi. Messinger's criticism of Hevesi was explicit, for not giving her adequate support in her 1997 bid. (Daily News)

"The Mark Green who presents himself to voters this time is not exactly the same Mr. Green who has been such a provocative and colorful - his critics would say abrasive - figure in New York public life for so long, the proponent of the liberal wing of his party, the inexhaustible tormentor of Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. In a noticeable and what advisers say is a deliberate way, Mr. Green, at the age of 56, is recasting himself in this, his first campaign for mayor. He is striving to come across as more mature and measured in his temperament, and a bit less liberal in his views" (NY Times)

The sons of two well-known South Bronx Democrats are carrying on their fathers' rivalries in the 17th District City Council race. Incumbent Pedro G. Espada, son of state Sen. Pedro Espada Jr., will face a challenge from Jose Marco Serrano, whose father is Rep. Jose Serrano. The race promises to be yet another battlefront in the war between the Espadas and the borough's Democratic organization. (Daily News)

Congressman Eliot Engel, in an act of revenge, is backing one candidate after another against the Bronx political machine that abandoned him in his last election. (NY Times)

Although he has been the city's chief fiscal officer for the past seven years, Alan Hevesi's mayoral campaign has given almost equal emphasis to the 108 laws he passed in the state Assembly during his 22 years there as evidence that he's fit to succeed Mayor Giuliani. (NY Post)

Fernando Ferrer announced a plan to keep all of New York City 200 public middle schools open until 6 p.m. every weekday for after-school academic and recreational activities, at a cost of about $100 million, a quarter of which he would raise from private corporations and foundations.

At least a dozen foreign- born candidates are running for seats in the City Council. Though many of their natural constituents, other immigrants, are not yet citizens, this is a situation that is changing. Spurred by national laws that eliminated services for even legal immigrants, a record number of New York's immigrants, nearly 575,000, have become citizens since 1996. (NY Times)

Why should Brooklyn's Democratic organization elders let something as trivial as a federal court decision get in the way of knocking insurgents off the ballot this summer? That's the question party leaders asked after a ruling no longer required people gathering nominating petitions to live in the candidate's district. The party simply ignored the decision and passed its own rule requiring it. (Daily News)

Michael Bloomberg inches closer toward a mayoral run, leasing midtown office space for campaign headquarters and registering an exploratory committee with the Board of Elections.(NY Post)

"Amid strong signs that next year's Democratic primary for governor could be particularly raucous, the state Democratic Party leader, Judith Hope, announced yesterday that she was creating a Committee on Primary Campaign Conduct to monitor the behavior of Democrats in primary contests in 2002. She said it also would guard against attacks that she said might harm her party's chances in the general election." (NY Times)

The leader of a New York abortion rights group said yesterday that she might endorse a candidate in the Democratic mayoral primary this year, even though all four major candidates have nearly identical positions on the issue. Kelli Conlin, the executive director of the New York affiliate of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League said she wanted to be sure, for example, that the candidates were committed to ensuring that medical residents at city hospitals were trained in abortion procedures. (NY Times)

All four major Democratic candidates for mayor participated in Principal for a Day. Would-be Republican candidate Michael Bloomberg declined the invitation. Upon learning that his rivals all accepted, his spokesman said "The reading scores will go down again." (NY Times)

Mayor Giuliani denounced Alan Hevesi for his new television advertisement pledging to stop racial profiling by New York police officers, claiming it is factually incorrect and an insult to the police department. (NY Times)

A new poll by Quinnipiac College since Hevesi has spent a million dollars airing commercials shows a gain of five percentage points, though he is still behind. Mark Green, 28 percent; Fernando Ferrer, 19 percent; Alan Hevesi, 14 percent; Peter Vallone, 13 percent. (Daily News)

Media mogul Michael Bloomberg has snared one of Mayor Giuliani's top political operatives for his possible campaign for mayor, Vincent Lapadula, 29, chief of staff to Deputy Mayor Joe Lhota and a veteran of two Giuliani campaigns. (NY Post)

The selection of a new president of the Board of Education, scheduled for today and said to pit Ninfa Segarra against Sandra Lerner, is all wrapped up in mayoral politics. (NY Times)

All four major Democratic mayoral candidates are courting the black vote, which could be decisive in the race. (Newsday)

Alan Hevesi charged that the Fire Department deliberately flouted city contract rules when it spent $33 million on a new radio communications system that didn't work, and has halted payments on the radio deal with electronics giant Motorola, pending further investigation. ( Daily News)

At the urging of Public Advocate Mark Green, he and the three other Democratic candidates for mayor "each vowed yesterday to uphold the spirit of the city's campaign finance law by discouraging independent groups from paying for television advertisements or other public promotions on their behalf." (NY Times) It was the same pledge that Hillary Rodham Clinton and Rick Lazio made for last year's race for the U.S. Senate (Daily News)

Officially not yet announced as a candidate for mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, media mogul, is quoted as telling Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on a current trip to Israel: "Am I running? Probably. Will I win? Not a chance." (Newsweek)

It was a busy Sunday of campaigning yesterday for the four major Democratic mayoral candidates. In various press conferences and appearances, Alan Hevesi called on Congress to restore funding to reduce class sizes; Peter Vallone proposed a plan to subsidize drug prescriptions for the elderly; Fernando Ferrer called for a strengthening of the Civilian Complaint Review Board; Mark Green called for a new law to improve the way drug prices are posted in pharmacies. (NY Post)

Today is the deadline for the deputy borough presidents of Staten Island and Brooklyn to comply with an ethics-panel ruling that bars them from raising money for campaigns to replace their term-limited bosses, unless they resign. Jeannette Gadson of Brooklyn has taken a demotion to a non-policy slot that pays less than her salary as deputy borough president of $120,707 a year, so that she can continue to raise money. James Molinaro of Staten Island has apparently decided to keep his job, stop fundraising, but continue as a candidate, spending the money he kept raising right until the deadline. (Daily News)


March Campaign Trail


My Street Address:

My ZIP Code:

Find what city council district you are in -- and learn more about what's going on there, and who's running.

What is this?
Gotham Gazette's Searchlight on Campaign 2001 offers a comprehensive look at what is being called New York City's most significant campaign season in modern history. (See the left-hand column for an explanation).

Districts of the Week

District 1 -- Lower Manhattan
Whoever wins the election in district 1 will represent immigrant Chinese garment workers, as well as Wall Street traders living in Battery Park City. There are several candidates hoping to be the council's firsts -- the first Asian-American man, the first Asian-American woman, the first gay Rhodes Scholar, the first dot-com guru -- running against some politically well connected opponents. Endorsements and fundraising will play a big role in this race. But voter turnout could be the main determinant of who will next represent district 1 on the council. The key question is how many voters from each community will come out on Election Day.

District 7 -- Washington Heights, Manhattan
The northern tip of Manhattan has become one of the most popular places for new immigrants to call home. The northern tip of Manhattan is a place that today's new immigrants call home. The majority have come from the Dominican Republic, but also from countries in South America, Eastern Europe, and Asia. But it is not just new immigrants that are moving in. Students, artists, and other Manhattanites looking for less expensive rents and larger apartments have also moved north. Ten Democratic candidates are competing for the 15,000 voters expected on primary day. The winner who emerges from a crowded field of candidates will have to balance the needs of the newcomers with those who have lived there for years.

District 16 -- Highbridge, Bronx
The neighborhoods of district 16 are the city's poorest, with the highest rate of unemployment and the lowest median household income. But those who live there also point out that much is positive and stable about the area, thanks in large part to local organizations, not-for-profit agencies, and houses of worship that help hold the neighborhoods together. Each candidate for City Council believes that through his or her connections to churches and local organizations, they can help empower the community toward a better life. Helen Foster, the current council member daughter, will face Michael Benjamin, who has worked as an aide to several government officials and Anthony Curry, a Bronx neighborhood activist.

District 20 -- Northeast Flushing, Queens
This year district 20 may elect the first Asian-American ever to the City Council to an area which now has the second highest number of immigrants from Korea and Taiwan in the city. There are three Asian candidates in the Democratic race who have each drawn big endorsements. Council Speaker Peter Vallone endorsed Terence Park, City Comptroller Alan Hevesi endorsed John Liu, and the New York Times recently endorsed Ethel Chen The campaign has also drawn national and international press coverage

District 25 -- Jackson Heights, Queens
Thirty-seventh Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens is one of the most diverse streets in the world. Little India quickly blends into Little Colombia, with vendors selling Latin American food to Colombians, Peruvians, Ecuadorians, Mexicans, and Uruguayans. And each summer, the Queens Pride Parade fills the same street with rainbow banners. So it is no surprise that this election year the district produced a diverse field of candidates. A number of them, however, found out that getting on the ballot is not an easy task, especially when the Queens Democratic organization sends teams of lawyers to challenge petitions. But five Democratic candidates survived and will face off on September 11.

District 31 -- South East Queens
When a heavy rain hits southeast Queens, many residents in neighborhoods like Springfield Gardens, Laurelton and Rosedale head to the basement with a bucket in hand. And it has been that way for the last 50 years. In the rush to build housing in the area after World War II, developers overlooked the need for storm drains in hopes that the city would eventually build a city-wide sewer system. The plan never materialized and the area has experienced "100-year rains" three times in the last decade. The eight Democrats -- all with little experience overseeing massive infrastructure projects--will try to convince voters that they can finally solve the flooding problems.

District 35 -- Central Brooklyn
The residents in council district 35 have some of the highest incomes in Brooklyn and some of the lowest. They can play in a famous park and a beautiful botanical garden, and live in the city's most crumbling public housing. They can attend one of the four institutions of higher learning in the district, and the worst-scoring high schools in the city. Such juxtapositions are a way of life for a district that includes the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens; mid dle-class African-American communities near Prospect Park; immigrant communities from Haiti, Sierra Leon, Nigeria, and Trinidad, and in Crown Heights, a mix of Hasidic Jews and African-Americans. Seven Democratic candidates are campaigning in hopes that they can bring some kind of unity, and attention, to the area. Their backgrounds are as diverse as the neighborhoods themselves.

District 39 -- Park Slope/Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
The candidates in district 39 include a chief of staff for an Assemblywoman, the husband of a member of U.S. Congress, a lawyer for the Legal Aid Society, an attorney and president of the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats, Senator Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, the district manager of Community Board 6, and a labor organizer. This is the race to watch this year. The group of high-profile Democrats have raised a lot of money, almost $1.4 million combined.

District 45 -- East Flatbush
In no place in the city are the effects of campaign finance reform and term limits being felt more than in East Flatbush. The seven Democratic candidates seeking to represent this largely West Indian district come from a number of Caribbean nations. Many have been working on politicians' staffs and serving with community groups, clearly hoping someday to win their own elected office. Term limits has presented them with that opportunity, and they want to make the most of it. But this race that usually draws only about 8,000 voters could be decided by just a few votes. The candidates are attempting to come up with anything that will separate them from the pack.

District 49 -- North Shore, Staten Island
Staten Island has always been somewhat of a suburban stepchild to New York City. When a 1998 survey asked New Yorkers why they go to Staten Island, the top two responses were ''visiting friends and relatives" and ''passing through.'' But in many ways, the north shore has more in common with areas of Manhattan and Brooklyn than with the rest of the Staten Island. The top priority for all the candidates -- Jon Del Giorno, an administrative manager for the Board of Elections, Mike McMahon, an attorney and counsel to current Councilmember Jerome O'Donovan, and Debi Rose, an administrator at the College of Staten Island and the first African-American candidate in Staten Island politics -- is to make sure that the island becomes more than just a turn-around-point for the over one million tourists who ride the free ferry from Manhattan each year.

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Links You Can Use

Government sites
NYC Campaign Finance Bd.
NYC Board of Elections
NYC Voter Assistance Comm.
NY City Council
Federal Election Comm.

Local non-partisan sites
NY League of Women Voters
Common Cause New York

National non-partisan sites
Ctr. for Responsive Politics
Common Cause
League of Women Voters

NAACP Voter Empowerment
Vote Smart


Political consultants
Amer. Assc. of Pol. Consultants

Prime New York

Gotham Gazette
The Empire Page
Campaigns and Elections
Legislative Gazette

Political columnists
Andrea Bernstein
Joe Conason
Mario Cuomo (radio)
Rudy Giuliani (radio)
Clyde Haberman
Nat Hentoff

Joseph Mercurio
Joyce Purnick
John Tierney
Michael Tomasky

Political parties
Right to Life
Working Families
Marijuana Reform
Natural Law Party
Taxpayers Party

Political clubs and groups
Blueprint Camp. Finance Reform
Central Queens Greens
The Jefferson Democratic Club of Flushing
NY Young Republican Club
Stonewall Democratic Club
Village Independent Dems.

2001 Election Calendar

June 1 -- Deadline for candidates to join the Campaign Finance program, qualifying for the four-to-one match of contributions.
June 5 - First day for candidates from the eight major parties (Democratic, Republican, Indpendence, Conservative, Liberal, Green, Working Families, and Right to Life) to circulate petitions. Candidates running for City Council must collect the signatures of at least 900 people living in the district for which they are running in order to appear on the Primary ballot. Candidates not running under these eight major parties do not appear on the Primary ballot and have a separate set of deadlines.
July 12 - Deadline for major party candidates to file petitions.
July 10 - First day for unaffiliated candidates to circulate petitions, in order to appear on the ballot in the General Election. They must collect the number of signatures equal to five percent of the total enrolled in that party.
August 7 - Board of Elections announces candidates appearing on the Primary ballot.
August 17 - Last day for non-absentee voters to register to vote in the Primary Election.
August 21 - Deadline for non-major party candidates to file petitions to be included on the General Election ballot.
September 4 - Last day to postmark application for absentee voting in the Primary
September 10 - Last day to personally deliver application for absentee voting in the Primary Last day to postmark absentee ballot for Primary
September 11 - Primary election; Polls open at 6:00a.m. and close at 9:00p.m.; Absentee ballots must be hand-delivered by 9:00 p.m.
September 25 - Runoff Primary election for Mayor, Comptroller and Public Advocate, if needed
October 12 - Last day to for non-absentee voters to register to vote in the General Election
October 30 - Last day to postmark application for absentee voting in the General Election
November 5 - Last day to hand-deliver an application for absentee voting, or to postmark an absentee ballot for the General Election.
November 6 - General Election; polls open at 6:00a.m. and close at 9:00p.m. in NYC; Absentee ballots must be hand-delivered by 9:00 p.m.

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