The Race for Mayor
GOTHAM GAZETTE: SEARCHLIGHT ON CAMPAIGN 2001: MAYOR

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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?
Masthead

 

Run-Off Debate

Excerpts from the October 7 televised debate between Fernando Ferrer and Mark Green on WNBC

Q. Comptroller Alan Hevesi has estimated the cost of rebuilding New York in the wake of the World Trade Center disaster at $105 billion. Hevesi said, "We took the hit for America." Where do you think New York will be able to get that kind of money, Mr. Green?

MARK GREEN Well, half of it will come from liability insurance. We have to have a plan in place to go to Washington to get at least $40 billion in money unencumbered by red tape and strings. Second, we need a state-city/ public-private redevelopment authority to do for us now what the emergency financial control board had to do in the fiscal crisis of the 70's: gather all the money and have the most creative ideas to make downtown Manhattan a federal enterprise zone. And third, we need a plan for safety to secure our people in this post-terrorist era. Within a week, Gabe, of the attack I laid out plans on rebuilding the economy, safety and federal government.

Q. On the question of where we get the money, Mr. Ferrer?

FERNANDO FERRER Well, a lot of it will come from the globalization of insurance. Those insurance proceeds will come back to the owners of those buildings for the purpose of redevelopment. We'll get some money from the federal government. I agree with Mark, we need much, much more. We did take it on the chin for the rest of America. And I think the nation and the region really owes us some higher level of assistance. We also need to have a rational building plan to build immediately; 100,000 jobs are at risk today, and if we don't build immediately and offer them space immediately, they're making decisions now that may cause them never to come back to lower Manhattan or New York City at all.

Q. Mr. Green has criticized you for saying that it wouldn't be a bad idea to put some of the businesses outside of lower Manhattan while the clearing out goes on. What do you say to that? Is it bad to penalize Wall Street for what happened?

MR. FERRER This isn't a penalization of Wall Street. The fact is that by Mayor Giuliani's own estimates the reclamation of the site will take at least a year. For example, it will take up to three years to clear up and to repair the PATH tunnel that came in right under the Trade Center. But more importantly, if we don't act now to reclaim and rebuild office space for businesses that are at risk of leaving and making decisions today -- The New York Times this morning pointed out that real estate companies and businesses are making decisions now about dispersing their employees. We've got to keep them in New York City.

MR. GREEN Gabe, The New York Times and The Daily News rightly condemned the borough president for not understanding how markets work and not understanding that when the planes hit the twin towers there was collateral damage in Queens: 50,000 air transport jobs. A waitress in the Bronx doesn't have work because restaurants on Broadway are being closed. It is really wrong and naive to imply and say that we have to disperse the communications and financial services industry -- which Mr. Borough President said twice, Sept. 20 and 30 -- out to the other boroughs. Julie's is on 47th Street, electronics is in the Hub, tires are in Akron. Financial services was concentrated there, it's 5 percent of the work force but 20 percent of the revenue to the city. That's the money that pays for smaller class size and more schools in Queens, which are so overcrowded. I think that is an ill-conceived suggestion. They attacked there; that's where we have to rebuild, not because of downtown Manhattan but to help and rescue the whole city.

MR. FERRER Well there's a couple of simple facts here. You know, we live in the 21st century, the communications age.

MR. GREEN That's true.

MR. FERRER Forgive me, I'd like to finish, Mark. We live in the 21st century. Brokers no longer walk across the street with confirmation slips. And that's just a fact of life. We have to live in the real world. Businesses today . . . are already making decisions to disperse. Now if we're going to respond to immediate real-life needs we're going to have to build where we can until we can start erecting office buildings on that 17-acre site that's owned by the Port Authority.

Q. Today's Times reports that if we have a mayor, Mr. Green says, that doesn't appreciate that a big crisis requires big ideas and a nonpolitical response, we could be in big trouble. Do you buy that statement by your opponent?

MR. FERRER Well, you know, I'm disappointed. It was a little more than a week ago that we both pledged ourselves to not launching negative campaigns. I've counted before I walked onto this stage from Mark and his campaign 19 separate attacks. Now look, I had hoped this would be a different kind of campaign where we'd discuss ideas and, as Mark put it, be relentlessly focused on the future of this city. Let's do it in that way. Now to compare our ideas is fine. To denigrate ideas and say, "Mine's a big idea and yours is a little idea," is not only beside the point, it's frankly apart from what there should be in this debate, Mark.

MR. GREEN It's not beside the point -- it is the point. The greatest municipal crisis that we or any city has faced should test who responded well and who didn't. And to say right away that, "Gee, I was the borough president in the Bronx when there was rubble there, too." To compare this catastrophe -- mass murder of 5,000 people, 100,000 jobs lost, $100 billion hit in the economy -- to the Happy Land fire and the blackout of '77, which was disastrous, shows a lack of appreciation of the magnitude of the economic impact, the safety impact and the federal impact. And so if The New York Times and The Daily News say that your plans were vague and that my plans were comprehensive, how else should voters judge us, Freddy, unless how we respond to the greatest crisis in our history? Why can't we compare our records and our visions?

MR. FERRER I would like to do that if we can get beyond your flurry of attacks, Mark. Now, this isn't the first time you've done this. When you saw support slipping and your poll numbers dropping you did precisely the same thing in 1998 when you attacked and distorted Geraldine Ferraro's record and Chuck Schumer's record. You even questioned his credentials as a Democrat. So let's try to keep this on the issues. . . .

MR. GREEN When Freddy Ferrer mocked me in his announcement speech and his surrogates did last week and he did all of last week, I didn't whine and I didn't complain. I responded with a plan on how the economy and the city could recover. I think it's now fine if he wants to say critical things about me and my leadership, which is fair, it is not inappropriate, it is essential that we compare our leadership now. That's not attacks, Freddy. It's facts. . . .

Q. In view of the tremendous financial problems ahead that you've been discussing, the two of you, do you think this puts Michael Bloomberg, the Republican candidate who has a reputation as a brilliant businessman, has commercials touting his managerial skills, his ability to lead a team of people, do you think this puts Michael Bloomberg in a good position to win the general election no matter which one of you gentlemen wins the primary?

MR. GREEN Look, we've seen how Mayor Giuliani, for his flaws before this catastrophe -- and I've stood up to him more than any, but I'll stand with him if it helps kids and it helps rebuild our city -- he has shown how you need to have experience in government to bring private and public sectors together, Washington, Albany and the city together. Michael Bloomberg has as much experience in government to bring us together as you or I have in running Bloomberg Financial News.

Q. On this I think you gentlemen probably agree. You don't think Mr. Bloomberg, his cause is advanced by this?

MR. FERRER He's been a brilliant businessman. But he rules his corporation, he hasn't ever had to seek consensus. He hasn't ever had to do anything that a governmental leader is called upon to do every day of his life in public service. So, no. I think they're very different experiences. . . .

MR. GREEN Gabe, I'm a citywide official, have been for over 10 years, appointed or elected. For the last eight years, I've been the No. 2 official serving next in line to the mayor if, God forbid, I would have to fill any vacancy. So I've been thinking about leadership for that amount of time. I am ready to lead this city, I am ready to rebuild the economy, I am ready to provide enhanced safety and I'm ready to educate our children.

Q. Mr. Ferrer, I detect in that reference to a citywide official that you're provincial, according to your opponent.

MR. FERRER Did you gather that from that statement?

Q. I'm deducing it.

MR. FERRER Well, Gabe, let me tell you this. In a public career of serving this city for nearly 20 years as a member of the City Council, member of the old board of estimate and borough president of the Bronx over 14 years, I've voted for, funded and implemented initiatives that have changed people's lives. I didn't plan them, and I thought about them, but I did something about them, too.

. The Sharpton factor. A lot of people are turned off by The Rev. Al Sharpton. Many others like him a lot. He's supporting you. Do you think he's more of an asset than a liability?

MR. FERRER Look, I sought his support just like Mark did. And I received his support. And I'm very happy to have his support, as well as the support of former Mayor Ed Koch, former Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, State Comptroller Carl McCall, Gerry Ferraro and so many others in support of my candidacy. They believe in the things that I believe in. I'm grateful for their help.

Q. Do you believe he's a liability or an asset to your opponent?

MR. GREEN I never had to make the judgment because I didn't seek his support. You know, Freddy, there are reporters who have memories. As Al Sharpton will tell you, I never sought his support. As The New York Post will say, for you to deny you ran on an us-them, two cities approach is like F.D.R. denying there was a New Deal. For you to deny that in your announcement speech and your surrogates attacked me. So now your just extremely distressed when I compare our records. You've got to tell people the truth. I never sought Reverend Sharpton's support.

Q. Mr. Sharpton implied yesterday that you did seek his support.

MR. GREEN No, no, no. Ask ----

Q. He said jocularly: I didn't realize that we were just hanging out. He referred to you taking him and his wife to the theater.

MR. GREEN Gabe, I've had a meal with you, but I didn't ask for your endorsement. I intentionally did not seek Reverend Sharpton's endorsement. I work well with Reverend Sharpton. Should I be the mayor, it's very important that I can sit down with the leader of any constituency group. And he's an important leader. But it is beside the point, Rudy Giuliani's not on the ballot, Al Sharpton's not on the ballot. One of two Democrats will have shown the leadership, the plans, the consistency, the vision, to run this city, unite this city and rebuild this city.

MR. FERRER I need to respond to this. Who are you trying to kid, Mark? I mean ----

MR. GREEN Stop acting, Freddy. I didn't ask for his support.

MR. FERRER Who are you trying to kid? You took them out to the theater, you had them over at your apartment for breakfast ----

MR. GREEN Did I ask him for his support?

MR. FERRER You courted his support.

MR. GREEN Freddy, you're not telling the truth.

MR. FERRER Please, excuse me.

MR. GREEN You can't not tell the truth. I'm the one who had dinner with him, Freddy, not you.

MR. FERRER Please excuse me -- while you're interrupting.

MR. GREEN A courtesy is not a solicitation.

MR. FERRER Oh, I see. But in 19 -- but I think the people need to know, in 1998 Mark did seek his support, did court his support, did warmly accept his support for the United States Senate run that he mounted in the Democratic primary.

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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 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 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

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32 Broadway, 7th Floor
New York, NY
10004-1609

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Poll Worker Applications

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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
SavvyVoter.org
NYVote.com
Votesmart
NYPIRG
NY League of Women Voters
Common Cause New York

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

NAACP Voter Empowerment
Vote Smart

E-Voting
Election.com

Political consultants
Amer. Assc. of Pol. Consultants

Prime New York

Media
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
Conservative
Democratic
Green
Independence
Liberal
Republican
Right to Life
Working Families
Communist
Libertarian
Marijuana Reform
Natural Law Party
Socialist
Taxpayers Party

Political clubs and groups
Blueprint Camp. Finance Reform
DL21C
Central Queens Greens
The Jefferson Democratic Club of Flushing
NY Young Republican Club
Stonewall Democratic Club
Village Independent Dems.


Abbreviations for Party Affiliation

American Dream Party (AMD)
Better Schools Party (BES)
Communist (Com)
Conservative (Con)
Constitution (CST)
Democratic (Dem)
Friends United Party (FUN)
Fusion Party (FUS)
Green (Gre)
Harmony Party (HAR)
Independence (Ind)
Liberal (Lib)
Libertarian (LBT)
Marijuana Reform Party (POT)
Natural Law Party (NLP)
Party of Ethics and Traditions (PET)
Reform Party (Ref)
Republican (Rep)
Right to Life (RTL)
School Choice Party (Sch)
Socialist Workers Party (SWP)
Working Families (Wor)


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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