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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?


January Campaign Trail

February Campaign Trail

Four days after suing to overturn the campaign finance law, Mayor Giuliani offered an alternative system, offering two dollars for every dollar contributed rather than four. (NY Times)

Giuliani, who endorsed his father, will not endorse Andrew Cuomo for governor. (Daily News)

Jimmy Meng, a Chinese-American and a registered Republican who owns a lumber business in Queens, has helped rake in a whopping $123,700 for Democratic City Comptroller Alan Hevesi's campaign. (NY Post)

The first forum for mayoral hopefuls took place in the Village. (Washington Square News)

Andrew Cuomo Declares Bid for Governor in 2002 (Daily News)

Hevesi is lining up endorsements from African-Americans, including Brooklyn Democratic Chairman Clarence Norman; Congressman Major Owens of Brooklyn; former Congressman Floyd Flake of Queens; state Sen. David Paterson of Manhattan (Crain's New York)

"While the debate on the safety of New York City dominated the mayoral campaign of 1993, and the city's racial climate played a major role in the 1989 race, the subject of improving the quality of education" is already the major theme of this year's mayoral campaign. (NY Times)

Real estate developers and other businessmen "who need a friend in City Hall," as Bob Liff puts it, are the major contributors to Democratic candidates, often giving to several candidates in the same race. For example, both Red Apple supermarkets owner John Catsimatidis and publicist Howard Rubenstein gave to all four of the leading Democratic contenders and to both candidates for comptroller. Rubenstein also gave to two candidates for Brooklyn borough president, and two for Queens borough president. (Daily News) .

Mayor Giuliani files suit to end the latest version of the campaign finance law. (NY Times) (Daily News)

Mayor Giuliani is said to want to cut the budget of the Campaign Finance Board in half (NY Post)

In 1997, Campaign Finance Board had demanded refund of unspent funds from Mark Green, while it fined Alan Hevesi and Giuliani for accepting illegal contributions. (NY Post)

Andrew Cuomo, son of the former governor and immediately past secretary of the federal Housing and Urban Development, is said to be mulling abandoning the race for governor in 2002, and running for mayor this year instead. (Newsday)

Michael G. Den Dekker, running to replace John Sabini in the 25th City Council district, claims the backing of the powerful president of the Sanitation union, Peter Scarlatos. Scarlots is also co-chair of the Municipal Labor Union, and a man "who rarely delves into electoral politics," as reporter William Murphy puts it. But Den Dekker is a sanitation worker. (Newsday)

Terry Bastone, a candidate to succeed June Eisland in the 11th Council district in the Bronx, said she sought the backing of Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and Congressman Eliot Engel and their Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club, but was told she would not get it "because I don't have a nice Jewish name," a charge both men deny. Riverdale Democrats have been encouraging Attorney General Oliver Koppell to run for the seat. (Daily News)

Ferrer: Give teachers a 30 percent pay hike, and require them to work over the summer. (Daily News)

The new, expanded campaign finance law will cost city taxpayers as much as almost $79 million this year, more than three times more than the bill's backers had anticipated when the law was passed in 1998. One of its authors, Public Advocate Mark Green, defended the law, which puts a cap on individual contributions and bans corporate giving. "For $7 per New Yorker, we have created a near-model electoral democracy." (Daily News)

There are six candidates for Kathryn Freed's City Council seat, in District 1: Rocky Chin, an attorney with the New York City Commission on Human Rights; Margaret Chin, an executive with a non-profit advocacy group, Asian Americans for Equality; Democratic District Leader John Fratta; Community Board member Alan Gerson; Brad Hoylman, an attorney with New York City Partnership, and Kwong Hui, who has worked closely with a labor advocacy group, Chinese Staff and Workers Association. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says he will endorse either Fratta or Gerson. (Downtown Express)

Though he is one of the 15 members of the City Council who is eligible to run for his seat again this year, Republican James Oddo faces two opponents in the 50th council district on Staten Island. The two Democrats, who will run in the Democratic primary, are Joseph Wein, former aid to Councilman Jerome X. O'Donovan (now a candidate for borough president) and public school teacher Libby Hikind. (Staten Island Advance)

Hevesi faces uphill struggle for the African-American vote. (NY Post)

Among those who have so far contributed $187,523 to Norman Siegel's run for public advocate are Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, David Geffen, Steven Spielberg, Whoopi Goldberg and Barbra Streisand. (Crains NY)

Council members are still contemplating the overturn of term limits (NY Times)

In a column that focuses on how much money various candidates have raised in a slew of races, Bob Liff highlights the race for Brooklyn borough president. Councilmember Kenneth Fisher, who has been raising money for three years in anticipation of a run for mayor he decided to abort, now has $622,945 for his race for borough president. Another candidate, State Senator Martin Markowitz, reports having raised $179,463. Deputy Borough President Jeanette Gadson, running with the backing of her boss Howard Golden, has raised $120,834. (Daily News)

Hevesi may support a bill to overturn term limits as a tactic to one-up Vallone, one of his opponents, who has opposed such a bill. (NY Post)

When the four leading Democratic candidates for mayor, two of them Jewish, celebrated Martin Luther King Day at the political headquarters of the Rev. Al Sharpton, it highlighted the power that Sharpton will have in the campaign, according to Rachel Donadio in The Forward, a Jewish weekly. Sharpton told her he has "specific demands" for the candidates, implying that, if he does not himself enter the race, he would endorse one of the four based on their positions in areas such as police reform and education. "I'd be interested in whether they'd support a slate of candidates for City Council and district attorney," he also said. Though some New Yorkers still associate Sharpton with remarks that were at least insensitive to Jews, "he has made several efforts in recent years to mend fences with Jewish figures," Donadio reports, "with mixed success." (The Forward)

In his first extensive interview about his mayoral ambitions, Michael Bloomberg told Elizabeth Bumiller he would run on "a platform of budget discipline, nonpartisan decision- making and an open City Hall." He dismissed the focus on his fortune. "What's a billionaire got to do with it? I mean, would you rather elect a poor person who didn't succeed? Look, I'm a great American dream." He also called the campaign finance law "an incumbent protection program. (NY Times)

In the latest Marist College Poll, the best-known of the mayor candidates, Mark Green is viewed favorably by 55 percent and unfavorably by 16 percent with 29 percent unable to state an opinion. Peter Vallone is seen favorably by 45 percent of the voters, unfavorably by 16 percent, while 39 percent have no opinion. The other two major candidate, Alan Hevesi and Fernando Ferrer, both have favorable ratings around 40 percent, unfavorable ratings about 10 percent with more than 40 percent with no opinion either way. Rev. Al Sharpton, who received nearly 40 percent in the Democratic primary for mayor four years ago and has said he was thinking about running for mayor again, is viewed negatively by most voters, 61 percent. Only 30 percent have a favorable view. (NY Times)

"Millionaire car dealer Howard Koeppel, a friend of Giuliani who has raised tens of thousands of dollars for him, hosted a fund-raiser for Green last week." (NY Post)

Yesterday's deadline to file campaign finance statements showed the following amounts raised by the candidates in the race for Public Advocate: Assembly member Scott Stringer, $427,134; former Parks Commissioner Betsy Gotbaum, $199, 317; Norman Siegel, who has taken a leave from his job as head of the New York Civil Liberties Union, $187, 523; City Councilmember Stephen DiBrienza, $89,313 (NY Post)

For Queens borough president: former Board of Education president Carol Gresser, $200,000; City Council member Sheldon Leffler, $124,000; Assembly member Audrey Pheffer, $70,000; City Council member Karen Koslowitz, $53,000. The amount for City Council member Helen Marshall was unavailable by press time, and Assembly member Anthony Seminerio did not file. (Daily News)

Four Democratic mayoral candidates visit Sharpton headquarters on Martin Luther King Day; Hevesi expresses regret for previous positions, but gets heckled. (NY Post)

In City Council District 25 in Jackson Heights, Queens, twelve people so far, including two gay activists, a nurse, a locker-room attendant, and a couple of staffers of public officials, have announced their candidacy for the City Council seat held by John Sabini. The field is so crowded and so diverse, observes Rob McKay in City Limits Weekly, that the winner may wind up needing only 10 percent of the vote. The candidates include two members of the Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens, Jimmy Van Bramer, who is considered one of the front runners, and P.Wayne Mahlke. There are several members of local school boards, including Louisa Chan (the nurse), Frank Castro ("locker floor manager" to a ritzy health club) and Ellen Raffaele, who is an ex-aide to Sabini. Though the district is 40 percent Latino, "Latino" is not a voting bloc in an area with so many different countries of origin: Two other candidates are William Salgado, a Colombian, and Rodolfo Flores, a Peruvian. McKay quotes a Jackson Heights politico as predicting that several of the candidates will drop out and form coalitions with the others. (City Limits)

Three-party race for Staten Island Borough President: Democrat Jerome X. O' Donovan, a city councilmember; Conservative James Molinaro, deputy borough president; Republican Robert Straniere, a member of the New York State Assembly (NY Times)

Lack of affordable housing likely to become the number one issue in this year's mayoral race, Rob Polner reports, at least among the Democratic candidates (Newsday)

City Council District 45 in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, as Bob Liff reports, is an example of an "immigrants' coming of age" story. At least 12 candidates from eight different Caribbean islands may run for the seat being vacated by Lloyd Henry, who is prevented by the new term limits law from running again. They include: Colin Moore (from Guyana), Democratic district leader Kendall Stewart (St. Vincent), former leader James Connolly (Cayman Islands), Omar Boucher (Jamaica), school board head Julia James (Dominica), Ernest Emanuel (Haiti), Sam Tate (Barbados), council aide Anthony Alexis (Trinidad) and lawyer Sam Nicolas (Haiti). (Daily News)

With the Democratic primary eight months away, each of the four main Democratic candidates so far has raised more than $3.5 million for the September contest, with Comptroller Alan Hevesi widening his lead. The estimated totals to date are Hevesi, $ 6.5 million; Public Advocate Mark Green, $4.3 million; Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, $3.8 million; City Council Speaker Peter Vallone, $3.56 million. (NY Times)

Michael Bloomberg will hire Frank Luntz, Giuliani's pollster, and William Cunningham, former top aide to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, as part of a team to help him in his not-yet-declared bid for mayor. (Daily News)

No candidates have formally announced in the race to replace Fernando Ferrer as Bronx Borough President, but those people who are considering a run include: the singer Willie Colon, City Councilmembers Adolfo Carrion Jr, Wendell Foster and June Eisland, and newly elected State Assemblymember Jose Rivera. (Crain's NY)

Bloomberg Courting Liberal Party (Crain's NY)

Green Calls for Soft-Money Ban in Mayoral Campaign; Dismissed As Ploy by Three Opponents. (NY Post)

Mayor's Aides Quietly Helping Hevesi (Daily News)

D'Amato Offers State Comptroller McCall His Financial Support If He Runs for Mayor Instead of Governor (NY Observer)

Election 2001 Overview (Village Voice)

Giuliani Rules Out Run for Attorney General (NY Post)

Spitzer Says He Would "Relish Every Moment" of a Campaign Against Giuliani for Attorney General (NY Post)

Analysis of Mayoral Race (New Republic)

Four Leading Democratic Mayoral Candidates Agree to Spring Debate (Daily News)

Spouses and Children of Term-Limited City Council Members Are Seeking their Seats (Newsday)

Vallone: I'm Going to Israel, and Writing to Clinton on Its Behalf (NY Post)

Arthur Nitzburg in his column on politics (Queens Courier) lays out the political landscape in Queens. There are already 100 candidates for the 14 open council seats. "What total chaos. What a mess we are all in. How delightful." Then he adds: "But wait until they get into the Council. The winners won't believe how meaningless a job they've won." Of course, all this new blood could (and probably will) change the Council itself for the better." There are at least eight candidates to succeed Claire Shulman as Queens Borough President, he says. There are two Republicans, Mike Abel and Al Stabile, both current members of the City Council. There are six Democrats, each one representing "an entirely different section of this intensely diverse county," Nitzburg says, and one of them likely to win, since Queens has not elected a Republican borough president for 40 years. "My best guess at this moment is that the race will come down to two key contenders - Douglaston's Carol Gresser or Corona's Helen Marshall. But don't count out the other candidates-Audrey Pheffer, Karen Koslowitz, Sheldon Leffler and Tony Seminerio."

Daily News:
14 City Council Members Running for Other Offices

Daily News:
Michael Bloomberg Edges Closer to Run for Mayor

S.I. Advance:
Race for Staten Island Borough President Will Be Competitive

Riverdale Review:
Former Attorney General Koppell Urged to Run for Bronx Council Seat


My Street Address:

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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.

Register To Vote or Be A Poll Worker

Voter Registration Forms
After printing and filling out the voter registration form, please send them by mail to:

Board of Elections
32 Broadway, 7th Floor
New York, NY

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Poll Worker Applications

After completing the forms, please send them to the address on the form.

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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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