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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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.

Opening statements:

Stanley Kinard:
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 much.

Richard Taylor:
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 Council.

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?

Richard Taylor:
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.

Stanley Kinard
: 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. Thank you.

Q: How would you try to shape public policy and economic development plans to serve the interest of your community?

Richard Taylor:
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.

Stanley Kinard:
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?

Richard Taylor:
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.

Stanley Kinard:
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 community.

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
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Local non-partisan sites
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Media
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Political parties
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Political clubs and groups
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Abbreviations for Party Affiliation

American Dream Party (AMD)
Better Schools Party (BES)
Communist (Com)
Conservative (Con)
Constitution (CST)
Democratic (Dem)
Friends United Party (FUN)
Fusion Party (FUS)
Green (Gre)
Harmony Party (HAR)
Independence (Ind)
Liberal (Lib)
Libertarian (LBT)
Marijuana Reform Party (POT)
Natural Law Party (NLP)
Party of Ethics and Traditions (PET)
Reform Party (Ref)
Republican (Rep)
Right to Life (RTL)
School Choice Party (Sch)
Socialist Workers Party (SWP)
Working Families (Wor)


2001 Election Calendar

June 1 -- Deadline for candidates to join the Campaign Finance program, qualifying for the four-to-one match of contributions.
June 5 - First day for candidates from the eight major parties (Democratic, Republican, Indpendence, Conservative, Liberal, Green, Working Families, and Right to Life) to circulate petitions. Candidates running for City Council must collect the signatures of at least 900 people living in the district for which they are running in order to appear on the Primary ballot. Candidates not running under these eight major parties do not appear on the Primary ballot and have a separate set of deadlines.
July 12 - Deadline for major party candidates to file petitions.
July 10 - First day for unaffiliated candidates to circulate petitions, in order to appear on the ballot in the General Election. They must collect the number of signatures equal to five percent of the total enrolled in that party.
August 7 - Board of Elections announces candidates appearing on the Primary ballot.
August 17 - Last day for non-absentee voters to register to vote in the Primary Election.
August 21 - Deadline for non-major party candidates to file petitions to be included on the General Election ballot.
September 4 - Last day to postmark application for absentee voting in the Primary
September 10 - Last day to personally deliver application for absentee voting in the Primary Last day to postmark absentee ballot for Primary
September 11 - Primary election; Polls open at 6:00a.m. and close at 9:00p.m.; Absentee ballots must be hand-delivered by 9:00 p.m.
September 25 - Runoff Primary election for Mayor, Comptroller and Public Advocate, if needed
October 12 - Last day to for non-absentee voters to register to vote in the General Election
October 30 - Last day to postmark application for absentee voting in the General Election
November 5 - Last day to hand-deliver an application for absentee voting, or to postmark an absentee ballot for the General Election.
November 6 - General Election; polls open at 6:00a.m. and close at 9:00p.m. in NYC; Absentee ballots must be hand-delivered by 9:00 p.m.

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