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Basic Training for Council Recruits... How They Stack up
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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?
Click for larger image
Incumbent: Fernando Ferrer
(can't run in 2001)
For who has donated to these candidates see the Campaign
to Adolfo Carrion
June Eisland did not file
from a Brooklyn Jail
by Adolfo Carrion
While Freddy Runs For Mayor
Unlike the other boroughs, the field for borough president
is yet to coalesce in the Bronx. That's because the Bronx
Democratic organization holds large sway over the Democratic
primary and prospective beep candidates are reluctant to
make a move until the organization--personified by the chairman,
former Assemblyman Roberto Ramirez--makes a choice. And
Mr. Ramirez's top priority these days is not electing a
new beep, but helping elect the current beep, Fernando Ferrer,
to Gracie Mansion this fall.
As a result, no candidates have officially entered the
field. Still, there are hints as to what the contest will
look like. The leading prospective candidate is Adolfo Carrion,
a freshman councilman and former city planner. Most political
insiders believe Mr. Carrion will eventually be Mr. Ramirez's
choice to succeed Mr. Ferrer, which would make him the instant
front-runner. But Mr. Ramirez has created enemies with his
political machinations over the last year and anti-organization
opponents are sure to emerge to challenge Mr. Carrion or
whomever Mr. Ramirez backs.
For example, U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, whom Mr. Ramirez tried
to defeat for re-election in last year's Democratic primary,
is looking to back singer Willie Colon (who once ran against
Mr. Engel) for borough president. And Councilman Wendell
Foster, who can't seek re-election because of term limits,
has talked about running for beep if Mr. Ramirez doesn't
back his daughter, Helen, for his council seat. And June
Eisland, another term-limited council member, has been looking
at the contest.
So far, the Bronx is still an undeveloped story.
Just a few days after his release from a federal prison
in Brooklyn after being held for 40 days, Adolfo Carrión
is returning to his race for Bronx borough president with
a fury. But Mr. Carrión, a Democratic city councilman, has
returned to a campaign whose competitive dynamics have intensified
significantly since he was arrested and jailed for his role
in a protest against the United States military's bombing
exercises on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques. In that
time, State Senator Pedro Espada Jr. has unleashed a campaign
whose pitch can only be described as feverish. Apart from
daylong campaign appearances throughout the borough, Mr.
Espada has raised more than $100,000 and plastered the Bronx
with his campaign posters and campaign literature. And another
competitor, Councilwoman June M. Eisland, is also raising
money and increasing her public profile throughout the Bronx.
Moreover, the names of two other candidates have surfaced.
One, Ronald Law, who was once an aide to Daniel Patrick
Moynihan, the former senator, and Mario M. Cuomo, the former
governor, has entered the race. Councilman Lawrence A. Warden,
another Democrat, has also begun raising money and collecting
signatures to qualify for the ballot in the Sept. 11 Democratic
primary. All of that has heightened the sense of unpredictability
in a race that is the most competitive contest the Bronx
has seen for the borough presidency in recent years. (New
Adolfo Carrion, who just finished a week-long hunger strike,
has some trouble running for Bronx borough president stuck
in jail serving 40 days for protesting the Navy bombing
exercises in Vieques, Puerto Rico. But his incarceration
could inspire the Latinos of the Bronx. (NY
City Councilmember June Eisland says she is joining the
race to succeed Fernando Ferrer as Bronx borough president.
She joins state Senator Pedro Espada Jr., singer and former
congressional candidate Willie Colon and City Councilmember
Adolfo Carrion as contenders in September's Democratic primary.
The Bronx Democratic Organization endorsed Adolfo Carrion
Jr. for Bronx borough president, though this by no means
assures his election. His opponents include State Senator
Pedro Espada Jr. and Willie Colón, the salsa performer
and onetime candidate for Congress. Other candidates the
organization endorsed: Ruben Diaz Sr. (district 18), Michael
Benjamin (district 16), Jose Marco Serrano (district 17),
Larry Seabrook (district 12) (NY
Willie Colón, a potential candidate for Bronx Borough
President, has called for reform of the system used to tax
co-op apartments. Colón, a musician and actor, is expected
to announce his candidacy for Bronx borough president shortly.
Colon said the current system requires co-op owners to "go
back to politicians on a recurring basis to maintain the
tax relief that should be their permanent entitlement."
He also charged that co-op owners often pay two to three
times the tax charged single family homeowners, even when
their home is of equal value. (Riverdale
Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer's final major
speech to his Bronx constituents was very much an attack
on the Giuliani administration. Ferrer focused on police/community
relations and on education, especially the recent court
ruling which found that the state underfunds New York City
schools. He criticized Governor George Pataki's decision
to appeal the court's ruling and Guiliani's plan to dissolve
the Board of Education, stating that it would not help a
single student learn.(Riverdale
So far, only Pedro Espada Jr. has formally declared his
candidacy for Bronx Borough President. But others known
to be considering running include City Council members Adolfo
Carrion, June Eisland and the Rev. Wendell Foster; Assemblyman
José Rivera; Bronx Overall Economic Development head Joe
Ithier; former state Sen. and City Councilman Israel Ruiz,
and salsa legend Willie Colon. The reason why the party
organization has not narrowed the field down, some say,
is based on the strategy that the more candidates running,
the more incentive for their supporters to go to the polls
- and vote for current Bronx Borough President Fernando
Ferrer for mayor. (Daily
The race for Bronx borough president is heating
up, and is seen as a theatrical battle between two rival
political organizations. On one side, State Senator Pedro
Espada Jr, has already announced his candidacy. On the other,
Assemblyman Roberto Ramirez and the Bronx Democratic organization
is looking for a strong candidate. Among those interested
are Assemblyman Jose Rivera, City Councilman Adolfo Carrión
Jr. and Jose L. Ithier, former chief of staff to current
borough president Fernando Ferrer. But adding to the political
theater is some music: Willie Colon, the salsa musician
who ran for Congress in 1994, said over the weekend that
he, too, was a candidate. (NY
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)
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.