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

 

The Last Debate

Televised Debate Between Mark Green and Michael Bloomberg on WABC, November 1st

Q. Our first question goes to the issue of qualifications and experience. What is it about your opponent that you find insufficient for the office of mayor, Mr. Bloomberg?

MR. BLOOMBERG My opponent has not had any experience in managing a large organization, in leading a large number of people, in setting large budgets, in actually doing things. My opponent's experience is as an analyst and as a public advocate, but when it comes to leading this city he does not have the experience for a quarter of a million employees and a $40 billion budget.

Q. Mr. Green?

MR. GREEN Of the two of us, I'm the only one who's spent time in the public sector. My rival hasn't spent one minute in public life. Managing a budget: I ran an agency of 350 people, $17 million. I put together coalitions to reduce domestic violence in the workplace, coalitions to get tobacco signs out of communities that were addicting our children. If creating jobs in the private sector, which is a great thing, were the criterion, Bill Gates for mayor, since his company is 25 times larger than that of my rival's. When my rival wrote in his book, "politics, whatever the cynics may say, is a noble profession," he was right then, but his contemptuous slogan now, I think, is wrong.

Q. Name three things that you can do as mayor to try and ensure that New Yorkers are as safe as possible.

MR. BLOOMBERG Get out as much information as you can, every single day. The first thing is to let the public know what's going on. The second thing is to make sure that our police force, who is working with the federal government, takes the appropriate steps to ensure our safety. And the third thing is try to convince people to exercise some common sense, but go about their normal lives. You can't let the terrorists win. Leave security to the experts.

Q. Mr. Green?

MR. GREEN Beyond as Mayor Giuliani has done, urging people to get on with their lives as London and Jerusalem do after lesser terrorist attacks: first, you have to have a deputy commissioner for counter-terrorism at the N.Y.P.D. and appoint people or consult with people who know what they're doing. I'm proud that Bill Bratton and Jerry Hauer, Peggy Hamburg, Sandy Berger - experts on these matters - have been advising me. Second, public health is public safety. You have to protect the public health function of the Health Department. So there's disease surveillance, so if there, God forbid, something happens, hypothetically on a subway, you can immediately detect it by people going into emergency rooms. Third, you need more points of departure, P.O.D.'s. So if something bad happens, everybody knows where to go for vaccines. It's pretty hard to get the vaccine, even if it's stockpiled, to the people who might need it. . . .

Q. Mr. Bloomberg, you've outlined a plan that would reward teachers with raises, a plan that forgoes an immediate move to reduce class size in the public schools. At a time of crisis in public education over that very issue, how can you defend that?

MR. BLOOMBERG I'm not opposed to reducing class size. I'm just realistic about how much money we have. If we don't have enough to go around, you have to set priorities. My No. 1 priority is to protect the existing teachers that work in the school system. Unfortunately, after two or three years, a lot of young teachers leave because they just don't get paid enough to live. So I want to pay those teachers more, reduce the turnover in the classroom, which is so disruptive. If we absolutely don't have enough teachers, then of course you hire teachers. Nobody's suggesting that we would have a class without somebody at the front of the room.

But in terms of reducing class size it is just not a viable option today. We don't have the classrooms and we don't have the money. First and foremost, let's make what we have work as well as we can. Get rid of the board of ed, empower the principals, move disruptive kids out of the classroom and you'll fix the problem.

Q. Mr. Green?

MR. GREEN I don't know an issue on where we differ more than on education. And again my rival has shown that he's out of touch and doesn't understand the neighborhoods and the families of New York. I've visited 50 schools; I speak to parents and teachers and principals. They want smaller class sizes and my class size coalition has a lot of ways to do it without big budget expenditures. We want more computers and technology in the classrooms. He's five times said we want fewer computers in the classrooms. I was at Kingsbridge yesterday in the Bronx. They want a school there. My rival has said communities don't want new schools there.

Finally, we have to pay teachers more, especially in return for more performance. And in addition I don't want to defund our public schools by giving vouchers to private schools. On these issues we couldn't be farther apart.

Q. Well, Mr. Bloomberg, you want to respond?

MR. BLOOMBERG Mark, you have a right to your own opinions, but not a right to your own facts. Nobody is suggesting vouchers. I've clearly said that it is not something that will work in this city. In terms of computers, nobody's opposed to computer literacy. Your idea of computer literacy for all kids by grade six and not worrying about whether they can read or do math is just wrong- headed.

I would rather have books than computers any time. The basic skills are more important today than ever before. The problem with the school system is not that the kids can't type, not that they can't use Word or Microsoft Windows; the problem is they can't read, they can't write, they can't speak and read in English, they can't do math. . . .

MS. WILLIAMS We're now going to give each of you an opportunity to ask a question of each other.

MR. BLOOMBERG Mark, the way the runoff turned out between you and Freddy Ferrer, isn't it time to say, we're going to conduct - you should conduct a real investigation of what happened? Isn't it time that you apologize for the smearing of Freddy Ferrer, saying that he was borderline irresponsible? Isn't it time to say, enough, that you should not have had or somebody should not have, in your interest, put out these disgraceful fliers and made those disgraceful calls? And will you promise right now to stop this politics of personal destruction that you seem to do every time you get close in an election?

MR. GREEN This is a man who said two weeks ago he wouldn't raise these issues because it's racially divisive. So what's despicable is the hypocrisy you just heard. This is a man who runs six to seven negative ads, which I haven't whined about. Now he's whining. The end of the story is that I asked my campaign people twice: Did anybody know about the racially divisive and motivated literature? No one knew about it. No one's shown it. How can I apologize for something that we weren't responsible for? Finally, I couldn't be prouder that Borough President Freddy Ferrer, Bronx County Chairman Roberto RamĖrez, Assembly member Ruben Diaz Jr., Congressman JosČ Serrano and his son Council member Serrano, 20 of the leading officials that were for Freddy Ferrer, including Congressman Rangel in Manhattan, have all endorsed my campaign. If they put it behind them and they think I'm the Democrat who could best be the mayor, I find this is a divisive question and quite off point in terms of what this city really needs, which is to rebuild the economy and educate our children.

MS. WILLIAMS O.K. Excuse me. Audience if you could, hold your applause please.

We now have a question from Mr. Green to Mr. Bloomberg.

MR. GREEN You were quoted as saying that sanitation workers have a more dangerous job than cops and firefighters, quoted as saying communities don't want schools there, quoted as saying that rape could be prosecuted only if there was a third-party witness, quoted as saying domestic violence is a quality-of-life crime, I guess like graffiti. Would you like to now apologize for or recant any or all of these four very interesting statements?

MR. BLOOMBERG Mark, you've taken them all out of context.

MR. GREEN Are they all accurate?

MR. BLOOMBERG They were certainly said, but out of context. We were talking about all city workers. Some police and fire have enormously dangerous jobs as we've seen at the beginning. They're out there on the firing line, they could get killed. Sanitation workers and other city workers face environmental risks. The issue is, how do we get everybody home safe to their families at night? And it was in the context of talking about compensation for all city workers. When it came time to - the issue of saying you needed a third-party witness, it was for a five-year-old case that the judge dismissed. Two years after an event occurred, you do need some kind of corroborating evidence and the judge said that.

In terms of quality-of-life crimes, the issue is not the label, the issue is, how do you stop the despicable behavior domestic violence? Don't worry about labels; worry about the substance. That's what my company has done, that's what I've done. We're not talkers. We don't have an ideological position. We're not worried about labels. What we're trying to do is to just go and do something about domestic violence.

Once again, you're taking these things out of context. And it's the typical smear when the time gets close.

Q. The next mayor will, of course, have to negotiate new contracts with police, perhaps with firefighters. But there's a limit on how much you can pay them. Mr. Green, what kind of approach are you going to take here?

MR. GREEN I will tell you I have - I'm so proud that for the first time in 20 years, police people, firefighters, 18 uniform service unions have endorsed a Democrat for mayor. If the cops and the firefighters have put their trust in me, I will do everything I can to pay them what they deserve.

But it's beyond pay. They won't come here if they're undereducated, if precinct conditions are bad. So I want a tuition assistance program upfront so any officer who doesn't yet have four years of college could get it over the first five years. We have to clean up the precincts. It's both conditions and pay. And I know about it because I talk to them.

Q. O.K. Pay raises for uniform services workers, Mr. Bloomberg.

MR. BLOOMBERG We have to realize that we don't have a lot of money. We didn't before and we have an awful lot less now. Clearly we are losing police officers to other jobs, to other jurisdictions as well. They are underpaid. And the firefighters, you've seen the tragedy, you've seen the sacrifice that they made. I think we have to find ways to try to get both of those groups as much as we can. But we have the same issue where we're losing teachers. There are lots of city departments where the people are underpaid and our resources to solve the problem is relatively small. You have to go and you have to negotiate some ways through pensions and through pay raises and through changing the job descriptions so that these people do not find alternatives outside of the work force to be more attractive. But I don't think that we can possibly pay them in the next year or so what we really do owe them.

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

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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
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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