on the pull-down menu and select your district
Recent Feature Stories:
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
What is Searchlight on Campaign 2001?
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?
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?
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
What does this have to do with this site?
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?
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?
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
Who are we?
There Are No Reasons For Slums
In This City
By Herman Badillo
I began planning when I became the commissioner
of housing and relocation in the Wagner administration.
I replaced Robert Moses because Robert Moses had
an idea that the way to bring about urban renewal
projects was to turn off the heat and hot water.
I had the strange idea that you should provide people
with a decent, safe and sanitary apartment.
We had the housing executive committee that met
every Friday. We got more projects approved than
before or since. The West Side Urban Renewal Project
from 87th to 97th Streets, Central Park to Amsterdam
is our project. Bronx Park South, Bellvue South
Cadman Plaza. It was possible to do that because
we had all of the agencies of the city meeting on
a regular basis. I would do that except I would
have a deputy mayor representing the mayor at city
hall meeting with the agencies, not just in housing
and economic development but in other areas like
parks and transportation.
The second thing that I learned is that if you're
going to have successful planning you have to do
it over a large area. It doesn't make sense to plan
a building here or a building there. We planned
with the West Side Urban Renewal Project a 20-block
area. The reason that's important is if you build
one building and don't do anything about the adjacent
buildings you don't make any progress.
All of you are too young to remember, but in those
days Amsterdam Avenue and Columbus Avenue were slums.
The brownstones in between were slums. I said to
some of my friends, "You should buy one of those
brownstones because in 20 or 30 years, they're going
to be worth millions," and they are. We maintained
Central Park West and rehabilitated the brownstones,
and we rebuilt Columbus Avenue and Amsterdam Avenue
with low and middle-income housing. We invented
the idea of 80-20. Within the same middle income
apartment you have 80 percent middle income and
20 percent low income in such a way that nobody
knows who are the low income people. Everybody said
that was crazy.
I came up with another idea, which is that we would
have stores in the bottom. I moved the fellow who
had a bakery at 96th and Columbus down to 87th Street
and I moved him back when the new buildings were
built. I did that with the tenants. You can do that
when you have a significant large project.
In fact, the West Side Urban Renewal Project saved
the West Side because it affected all of the housing
and community development below 87th Street and
above 97th Street That project still stands today.
And it will be there for a long period of time.
We defeated Bob Moses in his attempts to have the
Lower Manhattan Expressway, which would have been
a disaster for this city because it would have cut
lower Manhattan in half which would have been as
bad as the Cross Bronx Expressway. I don't believe
in that kind of project which destroys communities.
I was the youngest commissioner in New York City
history and the first Hispanic. I remember the elevator
man said to me, "What do you do in this building?
I see you coming in every day and people are talking
to you." So I told him that I'm the commissioner.
He says, "You're the commissioner. Some commissioner."
You had to be an old man to be a commissioner.
That experience set the stage for the next job
I had when was the first Hispanic and the youngest
borough president of the Bronx in the history of
New York City. In the Bronx, there were 14 community
planning boards, and I came up with the idea of
having public hearings within the community planning
boards and preparing an expense budget and a capital
budget for each of the planning boards.
This is a city of neighborhoods. You had a neighborhood
that was Italian and another one that was Irish
and one that was Jewish and one that was black and
one that was Hispanic. I said to the community planning
board I will take the first three items that you
come up with, and I want every other community planning
board to support whatever the planning board wants
because that way you get more projects approved.
We had the largest number of people coming up to
the hearings at city hall. Not only were there large
numbers but they worked together and I got more
capitol projects approved then for the Bronx than
before or since. Having worked with community planning
boards and being aware of their needs, I certainly
will do it as mayor.
I then went to Congress and I found out that in
the Congress of the United States there never was
a committee in all the 190 some years that had to
do with urban affairs, so I was the first one to
set up a subcommittee on urban affairs in the Congress.
It became Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs so
we could begin to plan for the cities. The attitude
in those days, and to some extent now, is that the
cities are not worth saving. The cities in Europe
are treated like jewels. Everybody wants to be in
London, Rome and Paris. The cities in America are
treated like dumping grounds. All the problems are
put into the city. I said that we could have our
cities be jewels as well.
After some years in Congress, I finally persuaded
President Jimmy Carter to come to Charlotte Street
in the South Bronx. You may remember that Charlotte
Street was a burned out area of the South Bronx.
My thinking was that if I could get the president
of the United States to come to a burned out area
of the South Bronx, he would be forced to do something
about it. Sure enough, Jimmy Carter came. The picture
was taken of the president with burned out buildings
and flashed throughout the world. I met with Jimmy
Carter in the Oval Office time after time, and I
said I'm going to develop not just a 20-block area,
I'm going to develop the largest urban renewal plan
in the history of the nation. I'm going to develop
a plan that will rebuild the South Bronx from Fordham
Road to 138th Street Harlem River to Bronx River
Parkway with over 750, 000 people. I explained to
Jimmy Carter, "Look, Mr. President, you're an engineer.
We have the streets, we have the sewers, we have
the schools, the police stations, the transportation
facilities. The housing burned down. If you restore
the housing at a lower density you have an instant
neighborhood and because housing is never paid for
in one year -- it's paid for over a period of time
-- you can build housing very cheaply."
Go back there and you will see that Charlotte Street
is now the safest area in the Bronx. One-family
homes owned by blacks and Hispanics. Because they
own it, they maintain it and nobody commits any
Then we came up with the idea of not having just
one-family homes but having two- and three-family
homes. Ed Koch had become by then mayor. I resigned
from Congress to become deputy mayor for rebuilding
the South Bronx and education. Within four months
I prepared a plan to rebuild the South Bronx. Ed
Koch comes in and says the president is furious.
"Why?" "It's because you got the plan approved."
I said, "I told him I was going to get it approved."
"No, no. He says we can't afford it. He thought
you meant a private project." "I said look, that's
what I wrote. No private projects." So the president
turned his back on us, and now the poor guy's going
around with a hammer and nail.
The fact is that there are no reasons for slums
in this city or in any other city. You want economic
development. If you are restoring neighborhoods
and bringing in retail stores, you provide citywide
hundreds of thousands of jobs. I believe that we
can save every city in this country and prove it
by saving every part of New York City.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
enndorsed 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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
for Party Affiliation
Dream Party (AMD)
Better Schools Party (BES)
Friends United Party (FUN)
Fusion Party (FUS)
Harmony Party (HAR)
Marijuana Reform Party (POT)
Natural Law Party (NLP)
Party of Ethics and Traditions (PET)
Reform Party (Ref)
Right to Life (RTL)
School Choice Party (Sch)
Socialist Workers Party (SWP)
Working Families (Wor)
1 -- Deadline for candidates to join the Campaign Finance
program, qualifying for the four-to-one match of contributions.
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
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
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.