District 36 Central Brooklyn
GOTHAM GAZETTE: SEARCHLIGHT ON CAMPAIGN 2001: DISTRICT 36

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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-Albert Vann, Dem 13,781 - 92 percent
Stanley Kinard, Ind 815 - 5 percent
Richard Taylor, Lib 433 - 3 percent

Primary Election Results

Albert Vann 9,102
Richard Taylor 3,745
(Official Vote Count from the Board of Elections)

Incumbent: Annette M. Robinson (can't run in 2001)

The Candidates:

  • Stanley Kinard (Ind)
  • Richard Taylor (Lib)
  • Albert Vann (Dem)

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

Contributors to Stanley Kinard
Richard Taylor has not filed.
Contributors to Albert Vann

City's Official Primary Election Voter Guide for Residents of District 36


TRANSCRIPT OF DISTRICT 36 CANDIDATE FORUM

Campaign Tangle:
Al Vann managed to knock Stanley Kinard off the ballot for the Democratic party ballot, and now needs to face only familiar opponent Richard Taylor in the September primary. Kinard will still be on the ballot in the November
general election as an Independence party candidate. See the Campaign Update for more details. Posted 8/20/01


Campaign Feature:
[Campaign Update]

A Different Kind of Incumbency

Long-time Assemblyman Al Vann has announced his plans to give up his seat in Albany if he wins a spot in City Council. So far, only one candidate has emerged to challenge him. Stanley Kinard will be running a tough race against a man who has all the visibility of an incumbent.

Vann has represented Bedford Stuyvesant in the New York State Assembly for 26 years. He has not had a serious competitor for his seat in a long time. Because City Council District 36 overlaps with Vann's current Assembly district and his name is familiar for most voters, the outcome of the election, many say, is almost certain. So much so that Robert Mathews, chairman of community board 8, even referred to the race, in a slip of the tongue, as Vann's "reelection."

When asked why he decided to run for City Council, Vann replied bluntly--"term limits." Some have also speculated that he will make a bid to be the next Speaker. The current, term-limited, Councilmember, Annette Robinson, who has represented the district since 1991, is expecting Vann's win. Asked about her plans for the future, Robinson said, "I plan to run for the unexpired term of Assemblyman Al Vann." If Vann wins, a special election will be called to fill his seat. Robinson has a better chance of winning a special election than a race against an incumbent.

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

Race:

  • Black, non-hispanic: 80%
  • Hispanic:14%
  • White, non-hispanic:5%
  • Asian:1%

Median income:$27,664 (Ranks 47th out of 51)

Unemployment rate: 13%

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

This seat swapping plan has been a long time in the making and has also been quite public. In an article run over a year ago by the Daily News, Robinson said her and Vann's own political aspirations should figure into the equation. "I'm sure there will be arguments, but we have to look out for our futures as well," said Robinson.

Vann, in the same article, cites consistency of leadership as a benefit for the district. "Bedford Stuyvesant and Central Brooklyn would maintain the leadership it has had over the years, which I hope has been good for the area."

But even local community leaders who think Al Vann has done a good job for the area say he will have to work to accurately represent the needs of the neighborhood in the City Council. For one, Robert Matthews of community board 8 said Vann "will have his hands full getting known in Crown Heights," a portion of the City Council district that is outside of his Assembly district.

And Hardy Joe Long, chairman of community board 3, expressed concern about the changing face of real estate, as some homes are being lost to rezoning and tax liens. The area also has its share of absentee landlords who buy up property and then fail to develop or improve it. Long agreed that Vann had done well in Albany, but still wished there were other candidates from which to choose. "We need younger blood," said Long.

One community leader just might be the younger blood the area needs.

Stanley Kinard has lived in central Brooklyn for most of his life and has been an activist in the community "since the days of Angela Davis" focusing on culture and education.

Kinard heads the Woodson Cultural Literacy Project that is active in area schools. If elected, Kinard says he would focus on education, especially developing more culturally-based programs, as well as racial justice and economic development. "Why do we have to go outside our community to buy a TV or some blueberries?" Kinard asks.

Concerning the Vann-Robinson seat-swapping plan, Kinard says, "I don't think this is what they [voters that approved term limits referenda in 1993 and 1996] were thinking." He believes Vann has been an effective legislator, but says the area needs a democratic contest and "new perspectives, new vision."

Kinard recognizes the challenge he is taking going up against Vann. "Can I win?" he asks. "Yes I can."

Bedford Stuyvesant is one of Brooklyn's oldest neighborhoods, and one of the largest African-American neighborhoods in the country, second only to the South Side of Chicago. It also has a higher percentage of homeowners than neighboring areas and in many ways is considered a stable neighborhood, both politically and socially. According to Hardy Joe Long of community board 3, these factors may contribute to voters in the area being content with their elected officials and choosing to "stick with what I got," as Long put it.

Al Vann and Annette Robinson are counting on it. Stanley Kinard is betting against it.

posted 4/11/01

Campaign Update:

Al Vann managed to knock Stanley Kinard off the ballot for the Democratic line, and now needs to face only familiar opponent Richard Taylor in the September primary. Kinard will still be on the ballot in the November general election as an Independence party candidate.

Kinard said that one of his people who gathered signatures was not a registered Democrat, and he lost 195 signatures when they were challenged. "I think everybody should have the right to participate in the Democratic process," said Kinard. "He's trying to deprive the people of the right to have a real election. I would have posed a serious challenge to him in the Democratic primary."

Kinard will now try to regroup for the November election. "The community needs an election where they have a real choice," said Kinard. "There will be a real challenge for the seat."

Taylor remains optimistic about his chances. An outspoken opponent of Vann and Councilmember Annette Robinson's seat-swapping plan, Taylor thinks the voters in district 36 will not stand for it. "There is nobody in Bedford-Stuyvesant who believes in the switch," said Taylor. "Term limits means term limits."

Vann sees nothing wrong with what he is trying to do. "We have a strategy-- not a backroom strategy -- but a strategy that must be approved by the voters," Vann said in an interview with Our Time Press. He says he is running on "what's best for the community, not what is in the best interest of Al Vann."

Vann also has an answer for those that want him to stay in the State Assemb ly, where he has seniority. "If I leave the Assembly and come to the Council, I don't lose my relationships. And should I be fortunate enough to be Speaker of the Council, it only strengthens what this community and this city can get from the empowerment that would represent."

The other two other candidates are not letting Vann's name recognition deter them. In a recent candidate forum, which Vann did not attend, Taylor (who has run unsuccessfully against Vann for State Assembly several times) and Kinard met to discuss issues like education and economic development.

Both candidates see deep-rooted problems in the district's education system. Taylor, who advocates giving teachers incentives to stay in the district, warned against expecting an easy solution. "The type of plan that we have to put together is no quick fix thing, we can't just do it 1-2-3," he said.

Kinard said the problems go beyond the quality of teaching. "We need to start with real basic systemic change," said Kinard. "There needs to be more of a centralized focus in terms of what is the philosophy of education in the 36th council [district]."

Economic development is also concern in the district. "There is nothing to stimulate economic development," said Kinard. "Where is our museum? Where is our movie theater? Why do we have to go outside of our community constantly in order to participate in these kinds of things? They will stimulate economic growth and development, they will bring more people into our community, and they will increase the quality of life in our community."

Taylor blamed the current City Council for "not putting economic development dollars in the right place ... I would listen to a lot of those community boards," said Taylor. "There are real people on those community boards, and (you should) let them pretty much guide you on where some of those dollars are supposed to go."

Posted 8/20/01


Candidate Biographies

Stanley Kinard graduated from the University of Massachusetts, where he was
head of its African American Students Organization. Since then he has become
involved in many activist endeavors in central Brooklyn, including serving as
founder and executive director of the Woodson Cultural Literacy Project,
which is active in Brooklyn public schools, and as a member of community
board 16. He is also a Revson fellow at Columbia University.

Richard Taylor, former district leader of the 56th Assembly district, has
held several positions in his community. He has served as president of the
Van Buren Street Block Association, executive of Together We Stand, a
non-profit organization concerned with economic development and community
empowerment, active member of King Solomon Lodge #366 of the Masonic order,
and citywide representative for state region 6. He graduated from Pace
University with a bachelor's in political science.

Al Vann has represented the 56th New York State Assembly district in Brooklyn
since 1975. Prior to serving in the legislature, he worked as an
administrator, teacher and advocate. He has also founded the African
Teachers Association, served as chairman of the state Black and Puerto Rican
Legislative Caucus, and served as a member of community school board 13. He
graduated from Toledo University, and received master's degrees from Yeshiva
University and Long Island University.


Campaign Trail

08/1/01
On the surface, it appears that Bedford-Stuyvesant is getting a much-needed,
long overdue facelift. But gentrification could leave long-time residents
out in the cold. (Our Time Press)

07/01/01
An interview with Assemblyman and City Council candidate Al Vann. (Our Time
Press
)

06/01/01
An interview with City Council candidate Stanley Kinard. (Our Time Press)

4/18
Opponents urge Al Vann to stay in the assembly, and scrap his bid for City Coucil. (Daily News)

2/11/01
Most veteran Council members pushing to lift term limits said they would not run for reelection even if they could. Bedford Stuyvesant's Annette Robinson pulled no punches, saying she would run again. That would kill a unique job-swap deal in which Assemblyman Al Vann is to run for her seat this fall, with her then running to replace him in Albany. (Daily News)

3/20/00
Assemblyman Al Vann and City Councilwoman Annette Robinson want to trade jobs. "I'm sure there will be arguments, but we have to look out for our futures as well," Robinson said. "Ultimately, the voters will make the decision." (Daily News)

12/8/99
The real estate market is looking up in Bedford-Stuyvesant. (Daily News)

7/11/97
A private inner-city investment fund led by finance king Henry Kravis is set
to launch its first major retail development in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
The $50 million New York Investment Fund is helping finance a $3.4 million
complex of stores that will include a Rite Aid, a State Farm Insurance office
and several shops run by neighborhood entrepreneurs. (Daily News)

6/7/97
Chancellor Rudy Crew made a surprise visit yesterday to a troubled Brooklyn
school -- and told parents he was appalled at its lack of educational
facilities. (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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