District 11 Northwest Bronx
GOTHAM GAZETTE: SEARCHLIGHT ON CAMPAIGN 2001: DISTRICT 11

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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?
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Learn more about this district in Searchlight 2002

General Election Results

x-G. Oliver Koppell, Dem 19,129 - 79 percent
Richard Imprescia, Rep 5,047 - 21 percent

Primary Election Results

G. Oliver Koppell 10,190
Laura Spalter 3,716
Terry Anne Bastone 1,987
Mark H. Vogel 1,055
(Official Vote Count from the Board of Elections)

Incumbent: June M. Eisland (can't run in 2001)

The Candidates:


Contributors to these candidates, according to the Campaign Finance Board:

Contributors to Terry Anne Bastone
Contributors to Richard Imprescia
Contributors to G. Oliver Koppell
Contributors to Laura Spalter
Contributors to Mark Vogel

City's Official Primary Election Voter Guide for Residents of District 11

Issue Statements:
District 11 candidates' statements on the issues, at Savvyvoter.org


Campaign Feature:
[Campaign Update]

A Familiar Face versus New Blood

As a native of Riverdale who grew up in the City Council district he hopes to represent, 28-year-old Mark Vogel feels he understands the northwest Bronx better than his rivals for the seat - even if one of them has one of the most recognizable names in this particular political landscape. G. Oliver Koppell, a long-time state assemblyman and former New York State Attorney General, is running against Vogel and at least two other candidates to replace June Eisland, who has represented the area in the council since 1980.

If Koppell is a dominant figure in Riverdale, politically, Riverdale, with its large Jewish population, tends to dominate the district, which also includes Van Cortlandt Park, Wave Hill, Manhattan College and enclaves in Bedford Park, Norwood, Wakefield and Woodlawn. Three of the likely candidates hail from affluent Riverdale and one from neighboring Kingsbridge. But the district also is home to more modest, largely Hispanic or black neighborhoods.

Area Profile
For a detailed profile of this district from City Project, click here.

Race:

  • White, non-Hispanic: 46%
  • Hispanic: 34%
  • Black, non-Hispanic: 14%
  • Asian: 6%

Median income:$47,432 (25th highest of 51 City Council Districts)

Unemployment rate: 7%

For more information on this district -- its schools, its crime statistics and more -- click here.

The Koppells are doing a lot of campaigning these days. Just last year, Oliver's wife, Lorraine Coyle-Koppell ran unsuccessfully against Bronx Republican State Senator Guy Velella after defeating Bronx Democratic District Leader Michael Benedetto in the primary. Some observers had expected that, if any Koppell ran for council this year it would be Lorraine, not Oliver.

After taking time to consider whether to run or not, Koppell announced on Lincoln's Birthday that he is a candidate. He says he will participate in the city's Campaign Finance program. He also predicts "it is likely" that he will enjoy Eisland's endorsement. Laura Spalter and Terry Bastone have also declared their candidacies. Some local press had viewed Spalter, who supported Velella in November's state senate race, as the front runner -- until Koppell entered the race.

Those backing Koppell claim it would help the community to have a well known person representing it on the council. But Vogel says, "A lot of people are looking for a new face," he says. Calling a run by Koppell "somewhat ridiculous," he said, "It's kind of like the president of the United States running for class president."

Koppell's path to the City Council may not be as smooth as his prominence suggests. He is currently president of Community School Board 10 -- a post that is almost certainly less prestigious than City Council -- and in that capacity has fought for adding high school grades to a Riverdale middle school. That plan sparked tension between Riverdale residents and some members of minority communities. Vogel, for one, claims that his former boss Koppell has not handled the controversial issue well. "Oliver has had a hard time reaching out to parents of minority students," Vogel asserts.

According to Spalter, a middle-school teacher, Riverdale parents - herself included - have been dismayed at the lack of a neighborhood high school. The expansion of the local middle school to accommodate high school students, Spalter says, had wide support from members of the community hoping to maintain the academic quality of their local schools.

However, some Bronx residents claim that the drive to organize a Riverdale-centered high school reflects that community's desire to remain segregated from the rest of the school district. For now, the new school facilities remain incomplete, and the controversy continues.

For a long time, a key issue in Norwood was the proposed construction of a federally mandated water filtration plant in Van Cortlandt Park. All the candidates opposed the current site.

Bastone, a long-time resident of the district, was particularly concerned that part of the park would be off-limits during the estimated five to seven years it would take to construct the facility. Spalter concurred and said that, while she recognizes the need for clean water, she hoped the plant may prove to be unnecessary. This issue, though, may since have become moot. In early February, the state court of appeals ruled that the plant could not be built without the approval of the state legislature.

On other matters, the candidates all cite the need for more economic development in District 11. Bastone serves as a member of the steering committee for the Kingsbridge Business Improvement District. Koppell says he is its "strong supporter" and would advocate a similar business improvement district for Norwood as well.

A seamier issue surfaced in late January, as Bastone, who was born in Cuba, charged that some Democratic Party leaders said that she could not get elected to the council seat because she is not Jewish. Those leaders replied that it was not her ethnicity that may make it difficult for her to get elected, but the fact that she once used an anti-Semitic slur. Bastone conceded that she had but said she was only joking.

Posted 02/12/01

Campaign Update:

How the race in district 11 is covered by the local press has become as much of an issue in the campaign as the real issues, such as whether a new water filtration plant or middle school should be built in the area.

Candidate Laura Spalter says the free local paper, The Riverdale Review (not to be confused with The Riverdale Press), favors Koppell and has been inaccurate in its coverage of her. "It is not a regular newspaper," says Spalter. "They distort my record, lie about who I support, and they do it in a very nasty way. I can't even read it anymore."

First, Spalter says she never formally endorsed State Senator Guy Velella in his campaign last year (when he was challenged by Oliver Koppell's wife, Lorraine) as the paper reported. In another case, Spalter claims that the Review falsely accused her campaign of writing bogus letters of support to the paper.

Spalter also says the Review is a campaign vehicle of Koppell, and the other two Democratic candidates agree, although to a lesser extent. "The editor [of the Review] is unabashedly supporting Koppell," says Mark Vogel. "Most of his paper is an editorial."

"We all know [Review editor] Andy Wolf supports Oliver, and that's okay," say Terry Bastone. "But he doesn't have to be inaccurate. It gives journalism a bad name."

When asked about the issue, Koppell says he believes the paper is accurate. "Andy Wolf is certainly an opinionated writer. He is a friend of mine, but he hasn't always praised me. He has been critical of me in the past," says Koppell.

Wolf defends his paper. On the letters to the paper about Spalter, Wolf says his office investigated about half a dozen letters defending Spalter and that all were signed by people who do not exist. "I don't know if Spalter herself wrote them, but when you get a bunch of letters fawning over one candidate and then you find out that those letters were signed with names of people who do not exist, then it's pretty reasonable to assume that someone else wrote them, someone linked to that candidate's campaign," says Wolf.

Wolf also defends his decision to support Koppell. "These candidates are not strangers to us," says Wolf. "Before Koppell announced, when names first started surfacing, I looked at the candidates, and I was very concerned. They were lightweights. And Riverdale needs a heavyweight."

Largely overlooked in this drama is the Republican candidate, Richard Imprescia, who recently entered the race.

Imprescia, an economic development specialist with the Empire State Development Corporation, has spent the last few years targeting communities in need of an economic boost through tax credits and business incentives designed to attract companies to those areas to create new jobs. Imprescia proposes creating tax zones in district 11 to spur development in targeted areas, giving tax credits to individuals or corporations that make contributions that preserve gardens and green space, and privatizing some land that the city owns.

"It's not government that is going to build the 11th Council district, it's the people," says Imprescia. "All that government can do is create the environment where such development can prosper."

On the two issues receiving the most attention in the district -- the water filtration plant and building a new middle school in Riverdale--Imprescia sides with his Democratic opponents. He opposes the plan to build the water filtration plan at the currently proposed site, and while he is strongly in favor of school vouchers, he says he recognizes the immediate need to build a public middle school in Riverdale to lighten the load of other schools in the area.

When asked about his chances in a district that is five-to-one Democratic, Imprescia replied "I am someone with economic development, business, and academic experience. It is going to be an uphill battle, but when these issues are brought to the working class people of the district, it will resound with them."

Meanwhile the Democratic candidates are trying to get the endorsements that will boost their campaigns. Koppell has a long list of endorsements including Congressman Eliot Engel, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Public Advocate Mark Green, Comptroller Alan Hevesi and the outgoing Councilwoman June Eisland. But the other candidates have also received endorsements. Spalter has been endorsed by Councilwoman Kathryn Freed and by the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association. Imprescia has the endorsement of State Senator Guy Velella. Baston has yet to receive any endorsements. "Yes, I would like them," she said, "but all I want is the endorsement of the people."

Posted 7/24/01


Candidate Biographies

Terry Bastone, a Cuban-American, has lived in the Kingsbridge area for 30 years. A community activist, she has also had experience in city government. She was an aide for Councilwoman June Eisland, a District Manager for Congressman Eliot Engel, and an aide for State Senator Franz Leichter. In the community, Bastone is the President of the Kingsbridge Gardens Tenants Association and a member of various organizations including the Kingsbridge Business Improvement District Steering Committee and the St. Gabriel Home School Association. She has served three terms as a district leader in the county Democratic Party and is a former president of the Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club. She is married and has three children.

Richard Imprescia was appointed by Governor George Pataki to the New York State Department of Economic Development in 1998, where he is currently employed as an Economic Development Specialist with New York State's Empire Zones Program. He provides economic guidance to encourage development in targeted areas. He has taught political theory and urban sociology at Lehman College and LaGuardia Community College. He is also in the process of getting his Ph.D. in Public Policy Analysis at New School University. He lives with his wife and two children in Riverdale, where he is on the board of the Family Council at the Hebrew Home for the Aged. He previously ran for State Assembly.

G. Oliver Koppell served as a member of the NY State Assembly for 22 years, after which he became the State Attorney General in 1994. In the community, Koppell is a Board member of the Anti-Defamation League and the Riverdale Senior Center. He is also the President of Community School Board 10. Koppell currently works as an attorney in New York City. His wife, Lorraine Coyle-Koppell, recently ran unsuccessfully for State Senator.

Laura Spalter, 52, has been a teacher at Middle School 80 in Norwood for the past 13 years. She is a community activist and founder and current president of the Riverdale Community Association, a civic group that focuses on quality-of-life issues and community improvement. She is also a member of many clubs and organizations in the area, such as the Riverdale Nature Preservancy and the 50th Precinct Community Council. Since moving to Riverdale in 1967, she and her husband have raised two boys. Among other honors, Spalter was named Riverdalian of the Year in 1995 by the Riverdale Community Council.

Mark Vogel, 28, is a lifelong resident of Riverdale. During his years as a student at Queens College, he had internships with Councilwoman June Eisland and State Assemblyman G. Oliver Koppell. He also served a stint as a White House intern. Most recently, Vogel was Assemblyman Richard Gottfried's legislative assistant. He is a former Vice President of the Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club and belongs to the Bronx Young Democrats and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.


Campaign Trail

08/30/01
The Norwood News asks the candidates running for City Council a series of questions. If you are elected to the City Council, will it be your only job or do you plan on holding another position as well? What are your three top priorities? What specific proposals do you have concerning these priorities? As an elected official, what improvements would you propose for the Williamsbridge Oval park? Do you support the 1 percent for parks proposal? How do you propose to help solve the overcrowding problem in School District 10? Where will you have your district office? (Norwood News)

8/28/01
The New York Times today endorsed a candidate in this race. District 11 (northwest Bronx): "Residents of this district, which includes Riverdale, will be able to elect an experienced and trusted public servant in Oliver Koppell, who was New York's attorney general seven years ago, and spent almost 23 years as an assemblyman from his Bronx district. Although Laura Spalter has run a spirited campaign, we strongly endorse Oliver Koppell."

08/09/01
Amid bickering over party loyalty and political alliances, candidates for the Riverdale-Kingsbridge area's City Council seat revealed some fundamental differences in both ideology and style last Monday night. In a half-hour debate moderated by Gary Axelbank, host of the show BronxTalk on the public access network BRONXNET, Democratic candidates Laura Spalter, Oliver Koppell and Terry Bastone slugged it out over local schools and the city's Board of Education, the fight over building a water filtration plant in the Bronx, their own qualifications for office and, of course, local politics. A fourth candidate, Mark Vogel, shunned yet another chance to show his face to voters. Mr. Vogel has failed to appear at two debates and a string of candidate forums. Ms. Spalter, the founder and president of the Riverdale Community Association, hammered away at her campaign promise of political independence and a fresh infusion of civic activism into the Council. Mr. Koppell, the president of School Board 10 and the Riverdale-Kingsbridge area's Assemblyman for more than 20 years, emphasized his legislative experience, his successful campaign to create a new school in Kingsbridge and restructure another in Riverdale and his loyalty to the core principles of the Democratic party. Ms. Bastone, a longtime operative of the Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club and the local female district leader, promised to give equal attention to all the neighborhoods in the 11th Council District. Both Ms. Bastone and Ms. Spalter called for the abolition of the Board of Education, while Mr. Koppell said the board should be preserved, laying the blame for a dysfunctional school system squarely at the feet of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. "It's broken. It can't be fixed," retorted Ms. Spalter. More subtle differences emerged on the topic of local schools. Boasting of his leadership in the effort to add high school grades to the David A. Stein Riverdale School, MS/HS 141, and to build a new school, MS/HS 368, in Kingsbridge, Mr. Koppell implied that Ms. Spalter did not support the plan until it was politically expedient to do so. Ms. Spalter bristled. She declared that she supported the underlying concept of the plan from day one, but had legitimate concerns about charging ahead with restructuring MS 141 without planning for inevitable delays in the construction of MS/HS 368. Mr. Koppell dismissed her charge, saying the school plan was a reaction to a crisis. "We saw a mass flight" from MS 141, he said, "and we had to do something, and do it quickly." As for Ms. Bastone, she opined that "all sides are using the children for their own agenda." (Riverdale Press)

08/09/01
With less than five weeks until Primary Day, the candidates vying to succeed June Eisland in the City Council say they are pushing their campaigns into overdrive. Terry Bastone, Laura Spalter and Oliver Koppell were appearing across the 11th District last week, meeting voters on train platforms, doorsteps and street corners. Mark Vogel is a cyber candidate, waging a campaign from his office, sending hundreds of e-mails and reaching out over the phone lines to pull in donations. Ms. Bastone and Ms. Spalter both hit the pavement early each morning, catching commuters on their way to work. In the evening, they crisscross the neighborhoods, knocking on doors and selling their agendas. Mr. Koppell is also campaigning vigorously at transit stops, shopping centers and concerts, and his cadre of volunteers from the Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club supplements his personal appearances with literature blitzes on shopping streets from Riverdale to Norwood. In contrast, Mr. Vogel is foregoing face-to-face campaigning to fund an upcoming direct mail blitz. Behind in the money race, he explained, "If you don't have enough money for a direct mail campaign, you don't have a campaign." While Ms. Spalter and Mr. Koppell have each been endorsed by a political club and have recruited armies of supporters, Ms. Bastone has fewer volunteers. Just 10 helped her gather signatures to get on the ballot. So using a list from the Board of Elections, she and her husband Joe hit a different street each night, aiming to rap on every registered Democrat's door by September 11. Ms. Bastone, who lives in Kingsbridge, says she's working especially hard to court voters there and in Wakefield, Norwood and Bedford Park--neighborhoods she says have felt neglected by Riverdale-centered politicians. "But I have votes in Riverdale too," she emphasized. (Riverdale Press)

7/14/01
The City plans to cut off hundreds of nursing homes and senior homes from getting voting machines on Election Day, which critics could disenfranchise the elderly. Oliver Koppell, a candidate in District 11, joined by current District 11 Councilwoman Jue Eisland, threatened to sue the Board of Elections if they don't provide the machines. (Daily News)

7/12/01
Candidate Mark Vogel officially entered the race for council on the Fourth of July by launching a campaign website. He is campaigning as a next-generation politician. (The Riverdale Press)

7/10/01
Koppell gets Councilwoman Eisland's endorsement for her soon-to-be vacated City Council Seat, and in turn, Koppell endorses Eisland in her bid for Bronx Borough President. The exchange of endorsements came as no surprise, reports the Daily News, however it underscores the existing rift between Riverdale Democrats and the county organization which is backing Adolfo Carrion's bid for the borough presidency. (Daily News)

5/31/01
Candidate Spalter held her first big fundraiser of the campaign, in which she seeks to defeat the big-name Democrat Oliver Koppell, former state assemblyman. (The Riverdale Press)

5/17/01
Laura Spalter wins the endorsement of the relatively new Northwest Bronx Democratic Alliance. The organization's membership overlaps with the membership of the Riverdale Community Association, which Spalter founded and now leads. It was no surprise then that the club voted overwhelmingly to endorse her. (The Riverdale Press)

Terry Bastone kicks off her campaign, and vows to be a full-time councilmember, referring to her opponent Oliver Koppell, who plans to continue his law practice if elected. (Norwood News)

4/26/01
The Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Party endorsed Koppell for the 11th District Council seat. It came as no surprise to most, as Koppell received an overwhelming majority of votes. (The Riverdale Review)

4/19/01
Spalter makes her candidacy official, even though she has been acting like it for some time now. (The Riverdale Press)

3/29/01
Former Assemblyman and State Attorney General G. Oliver Koppell is working his way down the ladder. And he couldn't be happier, he says, as he runs for City Council against Laura Spalter, Mark Vogel and Terry Bastone (NY-1)

2/13/01
G. Oliver Koppell, former New York State Attorney General, formally declares for a City Council seat in District 11 in the Bronx (Daily News)

2/2/01 City Council candidate Terry Bastone has admitted she used an anti-Semitic slur in 1997. Rep. Eliot Engel and Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz say they told Bastone she wouldn't win because she once called an Engel campaign manager a "cheap Jew bastard." Bastone says she was "joking around" when she used the phrase.(Daily News)

1/26/01
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)

1/25/01
Several Bronx elected officials, including Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Congressman Eliot Engel and State Senator Eric Schneiderman, are trying to convince Community School Board 10 president Oliver Koppell to run for City Council. Koppell is giving serious consideration to a run, surprising many who considered his wife, Lorraine Coyle-Koppell, a potential candidate. (Norwood News)

1/4/01
A number of prominent Bronx citizens are urging former New York State Attorney General G. Oliver Koppell to run for City Council.Both Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and Congressman Eliot Engel report that they are receiving numerous calls urging Koppell to make the race. "People feel that he is the one possible candidate who could walk into the Council and be able to wield tremendous influence from day one." Engel said. A number of candidates have surfaced, including Laura Spalter, the co-president of the Riverdale Community Association; Community Board 8 Chairperson Lorance Hockert, Democratic District Leader Terry Bastone and Mark Vogel a vice president of the Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club. (Riverdale Review)

01/10/01
Election 2001 Overview (Village Voice)

12/21/00
The Riverdale Review editorial staff takes an early stab at candidate Laura Spalter, way before her, or any of the other candidates, have announced their candidacy. They don't see her as qualified for the job, and don't think she will do good things for the district. This sets the tone for their later endorsement of Koppell. (The Riverdale Review)

12/14/00
The still-unofficial candidate Mark Vogel launched the first mass mailing of his campaign. He outlines his positions and asks for donations. (The Riverdale Press)

1/14/99
Hundreds of parents and teachers are urging former New York State Attorney General G. Oliver Koppell to run for the Community School Board in the May 4th election. Koppell has been urged to run by nearly 100 members of the M.S. 141 faculty and by the leadership of the United Federation of Teachers are also urging Koppell to run. Koppell has been spearheading local efforts to restructure M.S. 141 by adding high school grades. Koppell noted that the current Board majority is so prejudiced against Riverdale, that "they are willing to literally give away a brand new school, M.S. 368, and deprive generations of children in Marble Hill of an educational resource in their community, for no reason other than it indirectly benefits Riverdale." (Riverdale Review)

10/8/98
Democratic Club Lends Support to 141 High School Plan. The proposal to restructure M.S. 141 by adding high school grades picked up steam last week when the Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club, the borough's most potent political organization, voted to support the proposal. Elected officials who have lined up in support include Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Borough President Freddy Ferrer, Congressman Eliot Engel, State Senator Guy Velella, and Councilwoman Eisland and Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz.

 

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.


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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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