District 13 Pelham Bay, Throgs Neck, Morris park, City Island
GOTHAM GAZETTE: SEARCHLIGHT ON CAMPAIGN 2001: DISTRICT 13

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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.

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Learn more about this district in Searchlight 2002

General Election Results

x-Madeline Provenzano, Dem 15,182 - 64 percent
John H. Wilson, Rep 8,688 - 36 percent

Primary Election Results

Madeline Provenzano 6,234
Egidio Sementilli 2,495
(Official Vote Count from the Board of Elections)

Incumbent: Madeline Provenzano

The Candidates:


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

Madeline Provenzano has not yet filed.
Contributors to Egidio Sementilli
Contributors to John H. Wilson

City's Official Primary Election Voter Guide for Residents of District 13


Campaign Feature:
[Campaign Update]

The Twilight Zone

New Yorkers are used to noise, crowded streets, and tall buildings, but as one heads into the eastern parts of the Bronx one can begin to feel that something is amiss.

Vast tracts of grass in parks such as Pelham Bay Park, the largest in New York City, cover much of the 13th Council District. Neighborhoods still have wooden street signs reminiscent of a historic New England town. There is even an island, City Island, that one can walk around 20 minutes.

Nevertheless, there are parts of district 13 that remind us that this is New York City after all. Although over 70 percent of the district is made up of single family homes, low-income apartment complexes, universities and shopping centers as well as some not-so clean streets sprinkle the central neighborhoods of the area.

Still, urban ills remain largely absent. Crime in police precinct 49, the district's largest precinct, has gone down an estimated 18 percent since last year and 50 percent in the last seven years. The average family income has remained solidly middle-class at an estimated $48,000. Schools, although suffering from overcrowding, have shown encouraging signs such as an increase in math scores which place 63 percent of students above the national average.

"Things are OK around here, sometimes good, sometimes OK, sometimes bad, but hey, things work out," said Gary Goldberg, a resident of Throgs Neck.

This feeling of optimism and stability pervades the area's political scene as well. Like all of the Bronx, District 13 is a Democratic haven. Madeline Provenzano, the current councilmember, took over the seat from Michael Demasco, who became a State Supreme Court Justice and for whom she worked as chief of staff for 19 years. This year Provenzano so far has no challengers .

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

Race:

  • White 60%
  • Hispanic 26%
  • Black 10%
  • Asian 4%

Median income: $48,164 ( 22nd out of 51)

Unemployment rate: 7% (14th out of 51)

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

Provenzano, following the ethos of the district, is very set on retaining continuity. She was one of the council members adamantly opposed to term limits, which she says deprive City Council of "the invaluable historical perspective that can only be provided by seasoned veterans."

Indeed, Provenzano claims that it is her knowledge and her experience that have made her time in City Council fruitful. She is most proud of her successes in helping the children of the area, who were the center-piece of her 1997 campaign in which she evoked the trendy phrase, "it takes a village."

"I have been able to bring into my district $17 million of capital budget and have been able to bring many after school programs as well as computer labs to all schools, and soon to all libraries," Provenzano says.

She cites as one of her achievements the construction and imminent opening of the first library in Morris Park. And Provenzano also boasts of getting money for the first roller rink in the Bronx which was recently completed at the Bufano Playground in the Waterbuury-LaSalle area. "The project was something one of my neighboring council members was jealous of and has now set out to do in his own district," she said.

Although District 13 is peaceful, there are a few issues. One of the nagging concerns in the area is the planned Throgs Neck extension of the Iroquois Pipeline Operating Company's natural gas pipeline. At the beginning of the year, four routes were being discussed for the pipeline. Two of them went directly through residential areas. Those routes have been abandoned for the other two possibilities, one of which would go along the Cross Bronx Expressway around the neighborhood , and the other through the East River, avoiding Throgs Neck almost completely. Although most residents do not oppose the under-water route, the on-land route will probably be chosen due to its lower cost.

James Vacca, district manager of community board 10 and others in the community are concerned about the pipeline's safety and worry that a pipeline going through land could lower the value of homes in the area. "This project is going to affect homes and local housing projects; we are going to take this project personally" says Vacca.

Provenzano, however, says the two routes in question are the more neighborhood-friendly of the possible options since they avoid direct intrusion into the neighborhood itself. "The federal government makes the final decision, and we are going to have to deal with it," she adds.

Some residents complain also about overdevelopment of the area. "Houses are springing up where there were none, and bigger houses are being built. I'm afraid there will be a day when I can't find parking, or a day when there will be too much noise on the streets," said Jeffrey Pingam, a resident of Throgs Neck.

"What I've done is put in money for a city planner who will do some research into over development. I also want to make sure our residents know what sort of development is going on in their neighborhoods every step of the way," Provenzano says.

The councilmember looks to continue on the same path she has been on for 21 years now -- at least for as long as term limits will permit. "I only have two more years," she grumbles. "I'm going to make them good and keep things around here good."

Still, some people claim that the situation in the neighborhood is not one of prosperity, but of stagnation. " Sure, things may not be bad, but there can always be improvements. Provenzano seems to be riding on the natural stability of the area. It is not good enough to keep things stable. It is essential to continually make things better," says Ellen Morrone, a Bronx Republican.

Whether or not things have improved, all indications are that Provenzano will get two more years in office. After all, nobody is running against her.

posted 6/15/01

Campaign Update:

In an election year when dozens of candidates are vying for a single city council seat, district 13 seemed an island of calm, with the Democratic incumbent Madeline Provenzano running unchallenged.

But two challengers have emerged. John Wilson, an attorney and a member of the Bronx Conservative Party's Executive Committee, recently kicked off his campaign in earnest. And Egidio Sementilli, a long time political activist in the area will face Provenzano in the September 11 primary. "I'm trying to give the people a choice in this election, a choice that is often missing in Bronx politics," said Sementilli, who has also run successfully for State Assembly in 1998.

Both Sementilli and Wilson said they are confident despite the prospect of facing an incumbent.

"Her main achievements are to support a plan for a golf course on top of a toxic waste dump, which most people are opposed to and her other achievement is to bring to Morris Park a library that is too small and too inconvenient," said Sementilli.

Sementilli said he favors a widespread tax incentive for middle class families and the establishment of specific economic zones in the area to help encourage development. He has also called for an affordable daycare system for children.

"We are facing a crisis in New York," said Sementilli. "After eight years of going forward, especially in this community, we are now facing a crisis. Our taxes are not being used well. They are not coming back to the taxpayers in the form of city services -- police services, sanitation services, park services."

Wilson has proposed splitting the 45th police precinct -- which is charged with covering most of the area in district 13 -- into two separate precincts in order to improve police protection and response time. "This could become a serious problem as more people move into the area," explained Wilson. "I'd prefer to make these improvements before we have any problems."

Wilson has also focused his attention on the presence of so-called "hot sheet" or short-stay motels that are being built increasingly closer to residential areas. Wilson wants to restrict the building of these motels to industrial areas, arguing that the motels, which could attract illegal activity, will decrease property values and bring crime if built near residential areas. In addition, Wilson has voiced his opposition to building the Throgs Neck extension of the Iroquois Pipeline Company's natural gas lines through various parts of the district, preferring the more expensive but he said safer option of building the pipeline underwater through the East River.

But will these issues raise enough interest to unseat the incumbent?

"Most people are not talking about [the election] yet," said James Vacca, district manager of Community Board 10. "I don't think they've had a chance to focus. But when they do, the scene they see will be markedly different from what was predicted for the district."

Wilson faces a challenge in convincing voters who historically vote Democratic. "Most people here may be registered Democratic, but many of them are conservative-minded," said Wilson. "A lot of the Democrats in this district supported Giuliani and [State Senator] Guy Valella, who recently endorsed my campaign. I may be a Republican, but people don't realize that I'm also very pro-union."

Sementilli is in the process of founding his own political club, the Pelham Bay Democratic Club, to provide the nucleus of his campaign and fundraising efforts. "The people realize there is going to be a change in City Hall, and they know they need someone to fight for them," said Sementilli.

Posted 7/25/01


Candidate Biographies

Madeline Provenzano was elected to the City Council in 1997. She chairs the subcommittee on federal legislation and is a member of the committees on public safety, standards and ethics, fire and criminal justice services, housing and buildings, parks, recreation, cultural affairs, and international relations. Widowed at age 30 with three small children, she became active in her Bronx community on issues important to her as a single parent - education, health care, caring for the elderly. Before her election to the City Council, she spent 19 years in city government as the chief of staff to former Councilmember Michael Demarco and as the democratic district leader in the 80th Assembly District from 1992-1998.

Egidio Sementilli has been a long time activist and volunteer in the Bronx, working on several local election campaigns. He ran for State Assembly in 1998. He has been a member of Community Board 6, while also doing volunteer work for the Belmont community.

John H. Wilson has been an attorney for the past 15 years in criminal defense and personal injury cases, and now runs his own practice. A graduate from Fordham University and Pace Law school, Wilson was born and raised in the Bronx and now lives in the Pelham Parkway area.


Campaign Trail

07/19/01
State Senator Pedro Espada, Jr., who is also running for Bronx Borough President, endorses Egidio Sementilli for the City Council seat in District 13. (Bronx Press)

08/14/00
An article about City Council after term-limits by Councilmember Provenzano. She writes -- Picture this: you are a stock holder in a world renowned company that operates on a balanced budget, provides excellent services and is generally considered to be responsive to its investors. One morning you open the paper to find that over 80 percent of the company's employees, including the most fiercely dedicated and productive members, will be fired simply because of how long they have been on board. The next day a new president, managers and staff -- most new to this industry -- are expected to pick up exactly where the last team left off, including the almost immediate task of developing and implementing a $37 billion budget. First, you'd marvel at how anyone could think this was a good way to affect change. Then, you'd call your broker. (Gotham Gazette)

02/05/98
During her swearing-in speech last week, City Council member Madeline Provenzano pledged to improve the district she represents by focusing on what makes it a better place to raise children and what is good for youth. The new City Council member said the theme she has chosen is "Children Are Our Future." She also sounded the theme of the African saying, "It takes a village to raise a child," pointing out that First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton had written a book using the saying in the title. Provenzano, who began her first term last month as the representative of the 13th Councilmanic District, was given the oath of office by her predecessor State Supreme Court Justice Michael DeMarco during a Jan. 28 ceremony held at the Elephant House at the Bronx Zoo. About 100 people, including many elected and community leaders, attended the event. Provenzano, who was DeMarco's chief of staff for19 years, has stated that she will continue his policies and work to complete the projects he started. (Bronx Press)

01/25/01
One local developer made good on its promise to listen to the concerns of Throgs Neck residents this past week at a community open house, held by the Iroquois Pipeline Operating Company. The open house, held at PS 101 on Lafayette Avenue, was, according to Iroquois Pipeline Operating Company spokesperson Anita Flanagan, everything that the company had hoped for. "I think that the open house went really well," said Flanagan. Flanagan was encouraged by the turnout of the event, which numbered close to seventy people. "We were able to answer a lot of questions about the project, and we were able to accomplish what we wanted to with the community," added Flanagan. The project Flanagan is speaking of is the Iroquois Gas Transmission System's expansion of their pipeline, which runs from northern New York and down to the Long Island Sound. The pipeline, upon its expansion across the Bronx, would connect to Con Edison power station along the East River on the western shore of the borough. (Bronx Press)

01/11/01
Residents of the Throgs Neck area will have an opportunity next week to voice their concerns over a plan to extend a gas pipeline through their area. The new pipeline, to be built by the Iroquois Gas Transmission System, based in Shelton, Connecticut, has been deemed necessary by Con Edison due to the City's increasing need for energy, especially during the summer. The Iroquois Gas Transmission System has applied for permits to extend their existing pipeline across Long Island Sound through one of three different proposed sites for the extension through Throgs Neck. Iroquois Gas Transmission has also filed for approval on five other sites in the Bronx, none of which go through Throggs Neck, but those sites are also unfeasible due to the same gas grid concerns. (Bronx Press)

 

 

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 endorsed 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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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
Central Queens Greens
DL21C
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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