District 34 Williamsburg and Bushwick
GOTHAM GAZETTE: SEARCHLIGHT ON CAMPAIGN 2001: DISTRICT 34

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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-Diana Reyna, Dem 10,483 - 86 percent
Anthony Miranda, Fus 1,040 - 9 percent
Julio Mercado, Con 477 - 4 percent
Jorge Vazquez, Lib 171 - 1 percent

Primary Election Results

Diana Reyna 6,351
Juan D. Martinez 5,780
Edward Norman 1,767
(Official Vote Count from the Board of Elections)

Incumbent: Victor L. Robles (can't run in 2001)

The Candidates:

  • Julio Mercado (RTL)
  • Diana Reyna (Dem/Ind)
  • Jorge Vazquez (Lib)

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

Contributors to Juan Martinez
Julio Mercado has not yet filed.
Contributors to Ed Norman
Contributors to Diana Reyna
Jorge Vazquez has not filed.

City's Official Primary Election Voter Guide for Residents of District 34


Campaign Tangle:
Anthony Miranda and Julio Mercado have been knocked off the ballot for the Democratic primary. Mercado will still be a candidate in the November general election as a Conservative and Right-To-Life candidate. See the Campaign Update for more details. Posted 8/17/01


Campaign Feature:
[Campaign Update]

Keeping Bushwick Blooming (And Williamsburg Too)

In Williamsburg and Bushwick, where a thousand new homes are blooming, the past is still visible. Large abandoned lots are still scattered among the new single-family homes and the renovated apartment buildings. New parks compete with failing schools. New businesses go up in the shadow of old garbage facilities and power plants. Hope for a renaissance is undercut by memories of a desolate past, and threats from an uncertain future.

Much has improved in the neighborhoods of district 34, which once lost 20 percent of their housing and nearly half their businesses from massive arson and general neglect, leaving a landscape primarily of barbed wire and wild grass. Along with the new single-family homes, businesses and parks, crime has declined, with murders down 72 percent and robberies down 58 percent since 1994.

But district 34 is still one of the poorest in the city, in need of secure and affordable housing, education reform, and environmental safety.

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

Race:

  • Hispanic 67%
  • Black 21%
  • White non-Hispanic 8%
  • Asian 4%

Median income: $25,586 (ranked 49th out of 51)

Unemployment rate: 15%

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

These issues are on the minds of the four candidates looking to fill Victor Robles' seat on the City Council. Each hopes to convince the overwhelmingly Hispanic, Democratic voters that they are capable of continuing the resurgence of a once neglected area.

Perhaps the most challenging issue facing the area of Brooklyn is the environment. With the closing of the Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island, district 34 and surrounding districts handle 90 percent of the city's commercial trash and half of the residential garbage. There are plans for two new trash barges along the East River. There is also a constant struggle over whether more power plants should be built in the area.

"There is no excuse for putting our children at risk. I propose to protect our neighborhoods from the dangers of toxic waste," said Diana Reyna, who is chief of staff for State Assemblyman Vito Lopez.

Reyna said if elected she hopes her political experience and involvement with Communities United for Responsible Energy, a coalition of environmental groups against the expansion of power plants, would help address environmental issues for her district. "I am a dedicated public servant; a diversified candidate with experience in the political process who can make a difference in the environmental issues," said Reyna.

Anthony Miranda, founder of the Latin Officer's Association, is also looking to bring environmental change, but he thinks the only answer is to do away with "old style politics."

"I am confident in my ability to be independent of party affiliations and still have the knowledge base to help the public," said Miranda, who is running as an Independent party candidate. "Where have our elected officials been? It's a habit in our district to fight after the fact. I am going to change that."

Housing is another major concern for Williamsburg and Bushwick. Miranda believes that homeownership is key to the revitalization of the area since only 11 percent of residents own a home. "The money should be brought back into our own community to continue the battle against unstable housing and to make housing more affordable," said Miranda

Rev. Edward Norman, brother of State Assemblyman Clarence Norman Jr., echoes Miranda's call for making more affordable housing. ". Many people in our district are unable to fulfill their dreams of owning a home," said Norman. "I am looking forward to working with credit unions and the people in our district to achieve their dreams."

According to all of the candidates, education is an important issue in a district where over a third of the population is under the age of eighteen.

There is some sign of progress: PS 75, an elementary school in Bushwick, was recently removed from a list of failing schools. But in schools like Bushwick High School, the graduation rate is only 35 percent. Bushwick is home to Intermediary School 111, which was one of the five troubled schools that was selected for prospective privatization under the Edison plan. Now that the Edison plan was defeated, the problems still have to be solved, the candidates said. "We have to build new schools and take care of them for our present and our future," declared Norman.

Clearly, a complete rebirth of the area will take some time and the candidates for City Council have hard work ahead. But there are small and encouraging signs.

posted 5/22/01

Campaign Update:

Anthony Miranda and Julio Mercado have been knocked off the Democratic ballot, according to the Board of Elections. But Mercado will be on the general election ballot in November as a Conservative and Right-To-Life party candidate.

"I am thoroughly disgusted with the practices of the Democratic party," said Mercado, a local minister. He is continuing to campaign and said affordable housing is the main issue for the district. "People have been relocated and rents are too high," said Mercado, "There is plenty of space around here, and we have to get city and private funding to build low-income housing."

Anthony Miranda said the two front-runners -- Diana Reyna and Juan Martinez, who have both gained a number of prominent endorsements from Brooklyn politicians -- have used the Democratic machine to "wine, dine and dilute the vote."

Reyna, who is the female district leader of the 53rd Assembly District, defends her endorsements, which include Assemblyman Vito Lopez, Councilmember Martin Malave-Dilan, Councilmember Stephen DiBrienza, and the Bushwick United Democrats. "Endorsements can be important because they clearly highlight the needs of the people, and they highlight who will be effective in a political position," said Reyna.

Martinez, president of community school board 14, has the backing of Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Councilmember Kenneth Fisher, and the North Brooklyn Democratic Club. Martinez did not respond to a request for an interview

Posted 8/17/01


Candidate Biographies

Juan Martinez is president of Community School Board 14. Since 1980, he has served as the director of Progress, Inc., a group that provides funding and assistance to Latino non-profits organizations.

Anthony Miranda is founder of the Latino Officer's Association and has worked for the New York Police Department for twenty years. He is currently the Street Narcotics Enforcement Sergeant in Police Service Area 2 in east New York. He attended New York City Technical College in 1984 and he graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 1992.

Julio Mercado has been an ordained minister for twenty-three years. He graduated from Jamaica high school, received his BA in sociology from York College, attended the New York Theological Seminary. Mercado has also served as president of the 90th Precinct Clergy Council as well as on the Association of Hispanic Pastors.

Ed Norman is a pastor at the Brooklyn United Methodist Church. He graduated from Brooklyn College and Drew Theological Seminary. He was a junior high school teacher and is a member of School Board 32.

Diana Reyna has been chief of staff for Assemblyman Vito Lopez and is also an appointed member of community board 4, where she has served as co-chair of the sanitation committee and as a member of the committee on parks and recreation. She is the Executive Director of the Brooklyn United Democratic Club and is a founder and member of the Board of Directors to the Bushwick Cooperative Federal Credit Union.

Jorge Vazquez (no information available).


Campaign Trail

07/13/01
According to the Daily News, candidates who sit on community school boards receive fund-raising boosts within their school districts. The candidate who has benefited most from the boost is Juan Martinez. (Daily News)

06/28/01
"After lying idle and garbage-strewn for more than a decade, the old Rheingold brewery site in Bushwick is slated for a city-sponsored comeback..."(Daily News)

05/3/01
The first thing NY1 noticed about activist Juan Martinez is he likes to hug a lot. Now he hopes his Brooklyn neighbors embrace him back. "I wanted to start this interview in a place I've made a difference," he said. For Martinez, that place is a plaza outside Woodhull Hospital. He helped spruce it up as president of the Community Board, and Martinez says it's evidence of his efforts to change the feel of the district, which is the poorest in Brooklyn. "If you'd be from this community and been here five years ago you would have seen a place around us that looked like a jail cell," said Martinez. Martinez wants to turn around the district's schools as well. He was recently reinstated as head of the Community School Board. Former Schools Chancellor Rudy Crew removed Martinez from the post in 1999 for not being aware of a scandal that illegally funneled millions of dollars to a local school. However, Martinez says, "I had no part and no knowledge and no participation in this terrible scheme, and the Central Board overturned Crew." Diana Reyna helped bring the Buena Vida Nursing Home, the first Latina nursing home in New York, to Brooklyn. As chief of staff to the local assemblyman, Vito Lopez, she's gotten involved all over the district, which includes Bushwick, Williamsburg and parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant. But Reyna seems focused on improving the lives of the Latino community that makes up the bulk of the area. For example, "Growing up in the Williamsburg community, you remember seeing housing developments going up, and we'd be the last of those units being rented to others and we never had a chance to apply. We've been pushed out of the neighborhood." Reyna has the support of her current boss, while Martinez is backed by the local congressman, Ed Towns. (New York 1)

04/2/01
Anthony Miranda supports Fernando Ferrer's 10-point plan to revamp the Civilian Complaint Review Board. (Daily News)

3/28/01
In the race to succeed City Councilmember Victor Robles in District 34, political heavyweights are lining up behind the different candidates-Assemblymember Vito Lopez behind Dominican-born Diana Reyna, Congressman Edolphus Towns seems to be leaning towards local school board head Juan Martinez, and Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez is likely to support her aide Evelyn Cruz if Cruz enters the race. Other candidates: Latino Police Association head Anthony Miranda and the Rev. Edward Norman, brother of Brooklyn Democratic County Leader Clarence. (Daily News)

2/4/01
Brooklyn Democratic boss, Assemblyman Clarence Norman Jr., wrote just one check, $250 to brother Ed Norman's bid for a Bushwick Council seat. (Daily News)

11/19/00
Bob Liff gives a run-down of some crowded City Council races. (Daily News)

5/29/00 Anthony Miranda speaks on need for change in district 34. (Daily News)

 

 

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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