on the pull-down menu and select your district
What is Searchlight on Campaign 2001?
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?
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?
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
What does this have to do with this site?
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?
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?
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
Who are we?
On July 24, 2001 candidates from district 36 gathered at the Brooklyn Museum
of Art in a "Community Conversation" forum sponsored by Citizens Union
Foundation, Coro, and the Center for Excellence in New York City Governance.
Stanley Kinard and Richard Taylor participated. Al Vann did not attend.
Thank you very much. My name is Stanley Kinard and I am running
for the 36th councilmanic district which encompasses parts of
Bedford- Stuyvesant and Crown Heights. We need new leadership
with new vision. I have identified the issues of education,
economic development as the primary issues I am running on.
In the Bedford-Stuyvesant community we have a failed public
school system. It is one of the worst systems that exist in
the city of New York. One thing I have identified is when we
talk about the restructuring of the schools, there is really
no momentum. One of the things that I propose is a radical restructuring
of the public school system in the 36th councilmanic district.
Currently, we have, oh time is up, okay well thank you very
My name is Richard Taylor and I'm running in the 36th councilmanic
district. That's the district that Albert Vann and Annette M.
Robinson switched seats. And I want to say to you as you heard
many of the things that were outlined they have been in office
and representing that district for over 27 years. Look at the
educational system, where problems with commercial revitalization
most certainly have problems with our community programs. What
I say to you for those that hear the sound of my voice, you
should know that it is time to make serious changes in that
district and the only way to make those changes in that district
is to change the leadership. Vote for Richard Taylor for City
Q:With schools in Central Brooklyn highly overcrowded, the
average classroom is filled with over twenty-five students.
What do you propose to do to reduce class size?
There is some damage that has been done to our particular district
in district 36 more so than in any other district in the city.
We have some of the worst; some of the lowest scores there is,
under the same leadership for more than 25 years. So the type
of plan that we have to put together is no quick fix thing,
we can't just do it 1-2-3. But one of the things that we would
do, I do believe in giving incentives to teachers, getting qualified
teachers back to the district, there are some qualified teachers
and we need to give them some incentive to stay in the district
and to give something back.
: I don't think it's just a question of teachers. I think there
needs to be a radical restructuring of the school system in
the 36th councilmanic district. We have seven school districts.
You have district 13, you have district 16, you have district
17, you have the Basis High School Division which is Brooklyn
and Staten Island High Schools, you have the Brooklyn High School
Division, you have the auxiliary high school division, and then
you have district 85, which is the chancellor's district. I
think there's something fundamentally wrong with the way in
which the district is currently structured. I also feel that
you only have approximately 2% of the current population that
actually come out and vote for school board elections. I think
that we need to start with real basic systemic change, and then
more professional development, even with the teachers who are
currently there. It needs to be more of a centralized focus
in terms of what is the philosophy of education in the 36th
council and there has been this group of commissioners that
has been put together by Silver, who is the speaker of the Assembly,
to restructure education because Hillary Clinton said we need
to restructure. I say that as the councilperson representing
the 36th district, that I want to stand up and I want to be
responsible for the schools in the 36th councilmanic district.
Q: How would you try to shape public policy and economic
development plans to serve the interest of your community?
One of the things that I would do is focus on the northern end,
where we haven't seen economic development over there in more
than 40 years. When I was on New York 1, this was one of the
centerpieces that we outlined, and is still in existence, so
gentrification is real, is in place, but we've been suffering
this piece for years. So I would focus on putting those economic
development dollars where they're supposed to be, I would meet
with the communities that you're supposed to be, I would listen
to a lot of those community boards, there are real people on
those community boards, and let them pretty much guide you on
where some of those dollars are supposed to go. Those are real
people. I've been on the community board for more than 25 years.
I was part of putting some of the housing development there,
and we fought for years and asked them to put economic development
in that northern end, but it was the city council people that
decided not to do it. So I am pretty much against the current
leadership because they knew what had to be done, and the buck
stops with them. The dollars did not go in that direction, and
it's all about the leadership.
The question of economic development, first of all, there are
about five or six major economic development organizations in
the Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights community, and I don't
want to just focus on one part of the district. Unfortunately,
those organizations don't meet on a regular, consistent basis.
So they're competing for the same dollars and there is no central
economic development strategy for the 36th councilmanic district.
You got your Bridge Street, you got your restorations, you got
your central Brooklyn partnerships, you got the Brooklyn Chamber
of Commerce, you got the Federal Credit Union, but they're all’§îit's
almost as if they're in competition, they're not working together.
So there needs to be sustained meetings or collaborations that
take place where there is a central strategy that needs to be
developed for economic development in the 36th councilmanic.
Again, as far as the issue of gentrification, the only reason
that people are interested in moving into Bedford-Stuyvesant
’§ěCrown Heights is to move in to take over our housing. There
is nothing to stimulate economic development. Like you got the
downtown Brooklyn or you got the Brooklyn Academy of Music or
like you have colleges and other institutions. We need to develop
those kinds of institutions in the Bedford-Stuyvesant-Crown-Heights
Community. Where is our museum? Where is our performing arts
center? Where is our college? 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. Thank you very much.
Q: Will you commit a specific percentage of your councilmanic
budget to hold hearings on police misconduct, and what percentage
are you willing to commit? In addition, will you commit to hold
such hearings in your district, at least once a month?
Without any doubt, I have no problems with doing that. Matter
of fact, I think it should be mandatory that each city council
district should do that. It should be mandatory to have these
hearings, to gather this information, to gather this data, and
it's only going to help the system, and would help public safety.
And in terms of the percentage of the budget that I would have
to take a good look at it and see where the dollars are, but
I would have to see what kind of money's there before I talk
about the percentage.
I've never heard a question posed quite like that before. But,
you know, just on the gut, no. I would not commit a percentage
of my budget for hearings. I mean, I think that it should come
out of the city budget and not out of the council budget and
there should be hearings in every community. But I think that
the issue of public safety is one that we are again talking
about systemic change. We need residency laws for New York City
police. I mean, why do you have all these police officers that
don't live in our community, that don't look like our community,
it's almost like our communities are under siege. We need residency
laws where the police officers are going to come from our community.
As far as these guns that they're carrying, these nine millimeters,
we need to get rid of these guns that have these slugs that
kill people instantly. There are a lot of things that we need
to do to improve public safety and then we need police officers
that are more sensitive to the needs of the community, that
are more in tune with the needs of the community. People that
come from our community, that we look at with respect and not
fear. I think that one of our concerns is that we fear the police
because they come in our community as antagonistic, intimidating
forces and we need to do something about that. I think that
the only way that we're going to be able to do that is if we
can have open, honest dialogue with the police and have control
over who's going to police our precinct. Currently, we don't
have control. The same way that we're fighting for community
control with schools, we need community control of the police
department. And if they come from our community, we raised them
up, then they will be more sensitive to what our needs are.
Thank you. . . . I would lobby on behalf of the city budget
that there be money that's allocated directly out of that city
budget for these hearings. I mean, we get these meager thousands
as part of our councilmanic budget for discretionary funds.
It is incumbent upon them to put this money out there so we
can have these hearings. And the bottom line is that if we want
to have these hearings, it would be lobbying, and advocacy on
the part of the advocate to stand up for my community. On the
other hand, if I want to have a hearing, I'm going to go and
I'm going to have a hearing. It's no big deal, you can call
for a public hearing. For me it becomes a question of leadership.
Whether you're talking about public safety, or whether you're
talking about education, or whether you're talking about economic
development. There has been an absence of leadership in our
Districts of the Week
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
for Party Affiliation
Dream Party (AMD)
Better Schools Party (BES)
Friends United Party (FUN)
Fusion Party (FUS)
Harmony Party (HAR)
Marijuana Reform Party (POT)
Natural Law Party (NLP)
Party of Ethics and Traditions (PET)
Reform Party (Ref)
Right to Life (RTL)
School Choice Party (Sch)
Socialist Workers Party (SWP)
Working Families (Wor)
1 -- Deadline for candidates to join the Campaign Finance
program, qualifying for the four-to-one match of contributions.
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
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
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.