District 41 Bedford Stuyvesant, Brownsville, East Flatbush and Ocean Hill

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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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Primary Election Results

Incumbent: Tracy Boyland

The Candidates:

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

Tracy Boyland has not filed.
Roy-Pierre Cormier has not filed.

City's Official Primary Election Voter Guide for Residents of District 41

Campaign Feature:
[Campaign Update]

Dawn of a Renaissance

For almost a quarter of a century, the Boyland family of Central Brooklyn has played a major role in local politics, occupying seats in both the City Council and the State Assembly. Their reign will probably continue in 2001 since no one so far is running against Tracy Boyland for the City Council seat from district 41. Some say privately that potential challengers have been scared out of the race by the power of incumbency and the dynasty.

"I don't think we inhibit anybody from running," Boyland said. "It's a democratic process so anyone is open to run for office."

The Boyland family's base is the second largest black community in the nation. From 1977 to 1982, Thomas Boyland was state assemblyman for the 55th assembly district, which includes many of the same neighborhoods as the city council district. When he died in 1982, the neighborhood dedicated a street in his honor and elected his brother, William Boyland, to succeed him in the State Assembly. Tracy is William's daughter. Her brother, William Boyland, Jr. is currently a Democratic district leader.

Tracy Boyland worked briefly as a teacher, then became a representative of her union, the United Federation of Teachers. She has spent most of her career in politics -- as a legislative assistant, for example, for the Congressional Black Caucus.

While community leaders are careful to praise Boyland, it is clear there is much still to be done in the neighborhoods she represents. Central Brooklyn has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the city as well as a very high number of asthma and AIDS cases.

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


  • Black: 79%
  • Hispanic: 13%
  • White: 6%
  • Asian: 2%

Median income: $30,686(43rd out of 51)

Unemployment rate: 13%

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

"Councilwoman Tracy Boyland is so active in health issues, she's been very helpful," said Monica Sweeny, the vice president of medical affairs at the Bedford Stuyvesant Family Health Center. Sweeny noted that last year Boyland helped bring in $1.6 million for new technology to screen and treat prostate cancer in the area. But Sweeny added that the improvements are "too little and too slow" and that the area does not have enough resources or medical personnel to provide adequate care to the residents. Many of them are new African and Caribbean immigrants reluctant to seek medical care or unaware of their healthcare options, exacerbating the health problems in the community.

Boyland said she has been working with community health centers to distribute information pamphlets in the area about AIDS and infant mortality. "Many people in the minority community don't know that AIDS is something that also affects heterosexuals," she explained.

Harvey Lawrence, vice president of Brownsville Community Development Corporation, says that more resources need to be brought into his neighborhood, similar to what was done 40 years ago in neighboring Bedford Stuyvesant. In 1960, the high poverty rate and poor housing and health conditions in that neighborhood sparked Senators Robert F. Kennedy and Jacob Javits to establish the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. The Restoration Corporation, which still exists, strove to bring members of the community together with private businesses in order to strengthen and improve the local economy, culture, and family life.

"Residents need opportunities such as high paying jobs, technology, better schools and human services," Lawrence added.

Despite the need for more programs and funding, Central Brooklyn has been undergoing a quiet renaissance. Crime is down in an area that at one point was considered one of the most dangerous in Brooklyn. Noting that a lot of gun trafficking takes place in the back alleys of Central Brooklyn, Boyland said she has been advocating stricter penalties for people who purchase guns in places like Georgia and bring them into New York.

Many historical brownstones, particularly in Bedford Stuyvesant, have been successfully restored. Boyland feels that the restoration of brownstones will attract residents from Manhattan to buy homes in the area, which will boost economic development and improve the quality of life in the long run.

"We don't get the same coverage like Harlem does about successful brownstone restoration," she said, "but there has been a rebirth in Brownsville."

Boyland, who is chairperson of the Housing Committee, said she plans to continue working on brownstone restoration and creating more affordable housing in Ocean Hill-Brownsville, especially for senior citizens.

Since 1998, test scores for students living in district 41 have risen slightly with 33 percent scoring above national average in reading, and 47 percent scoring above national average in math. But the scores remain among the lowest in the city. Boyland said professional development for teachers is vital to keep teachers up to date in the computer age. She has worked to bring more computers into the schools so students in the area can successfully compete with students from the suburbs.

Boyland said she looks to her predecessors, such as Congresswomen Shirley Chisolm, the first black woman to seek a major party's nomination for president, for inspiration in bringing together her constituents to improve these problems. She says, "The method to real change lies in the hard work, time and effort of the community members."

posted 6/28/01

Campaign Update:

Two new candidates are running in district 41, challenging what at first seemed to be an easy reelection for City Councilwoman Tracy Boyland. But Abdur Rahman Farrakhan is determined to break up the Boyland family's hold on local politics, no matter what it takes -- including harsh rhetoric.

"To my dismay I have found that we have a great void in leadership, particularly in the political arena and the only reason why the Boyland family is still in office is because of the inertia and apathy of our communi ty. The whole family is equally inept," Farrakhan said. "If I lose this time, I will be waiting in the door in 2003." Farrakhan's petitions are currently being challenged by Boyland in court.

Farrakhan said that although there have been vast improvements in the physical environment of the community such as brownstone restoration, better infrastructure and cleaner streets, there has also been a "great deterioration in the human environment." Farrakhan said that teen pregnancy, high infant mortality, HIV, and high unemployment are major problems in the community, and have not improved at all.

"We have Mexicans who come here, people from all over the world and they get jobs. Our young men stand on the street corners, completely hopeless. But all our leaders do is party and sit on their thrones," he said.

Farrakhan, who is president and chief executive officer of the Oceanhill-Brownsville Tenants Association, Inc., an organization that has been creating and managing low and moderate income housing for 20 years, said he has done more for the improvement of housing in the community than all of the Boyland family put together.

Farrakhan proclaims he is not worried about winning the race because he said he already has won by just getting involved in the process and challenging the Boyland family's authority.

"I'm originally from South Carolina and I remember in the Jim Crow South that you had to fight in order to be part of the government. But I never thought I would find that here in Brooklyn," he said. "It is the same thing, except this time they have a black face. But they are doing the same thing that the slave masters did by trying to have the courts decide and not the people."

Tracy Boyland would not respond to several telephone calls for comment.

The other candidate running, Roy-Pierre Cormier, is running under the Republican Party and could not be reached for comment.

Posted 8/24/01

Candidate Biographies

Tracy Boyland began her political career as a liaison for former New York City Mayor David N. Dinkins and served as an intern in several congressional offices, eventually becoming a legislative assistant for the Congressional Black Caucus. After teaching briefly in the city public schools, she was elected Chapter Chairperson of the United Federation of Teachers in School District 23. Boyland was elected to City Council in 1997 and serves on the Environmental Protection, Housing and Buildings, Contracts and Aging Committees.

Roy-Pierre Cormier (no information available)

Abdur-Rahman Farrakhan is president and chief executive officer of the Oceanhill-Brownsville Tenants Association, Inc., where for 20 years he has been creating and managing low and moderate-income housing. He has been a board member of the Association of Neighborhood Housing Developers (ANHD) and a leader of the Community Housing Association. He has also worked as a chaplain with the New York State Department of Corrections in the ministerial services division, and currently serves as the Imam of Al-Jamiyah in Oceanhill-Brownsville area. He received his bachelor's from City University and a master's from the Columbia University Graduate School of Business' Not-for-Profit Institute and from York College in Management and Small Business Administration.

Campaign Trail

Fourth grade test scores rose in some districts, while dropping in others. The steepest improvements were in District 25 in Flushing, Queens, where the number of students meeting state standards increased by 11.2 percentage points, to 65.7 percent, and District 23 in Brownsville, Brooklyn, showed one of the sharpoest rises in fourth grade test scores in the city. Some 41.8 percent of students met state standard, an increase of 8.4 percentage points from 2000. (The New York Times)

Sunset Park's Angel Rodriguez and Brownsville's Tracy Boyland already have expressed interest in the City Council speaker's job. (Daily News).

One of Brooklyn's legendary housing groups is having a mid-life crisis. At its peak, Oceanhill-Brownsville Tenants Association (OHBTA) was a powerhouse, rehabbing hundreds of city-owned buildings. Now, says Executive Director Abdur Rahman Farrakhan, the group is getting out of the business, actively managing only about 300 apartments. While OHBTA still holds title to the buildings--mostly vacant and dilapidated properties rehabbed through city grants--it has passed off day-to-day management to outside for-profit management companies. (City Limits).

In the eastern Brooklyn neighborhoods once marred with dilapidated housing projects, the Ocean Hill-Brownsville Tenants Association has earned an almost saintly reputation for crusading against the worst of urban blight. (Daily News).

Nine members of a City Council committee today could pave the way for passage of a much-disputed bill aimed at protecting children from lead poisoning. Some 30,000 city children have lead poisoning, which can cause irreversible brain damage, and the list grows by about 1,000 children a year. (Daily News).

A group of Brooklyn politicians and clergymen vowed to support tougher gun control laws during a meeting last week at the Brownsville site where 11-year-old Kelvin McGinnis was shot to death. The coalition, organized by City Councilwoman Tracy Boyland (D-Brownsville), was formed in response to Kelvin's murder by teenage gang members wielding illegal guns. (Daily News).

Tracy Boyland defeated several challengers to fill the council seat being vacated by Enoch Williams. (Daily News)

In 1968 the New York City Board of Education attempted to give three local school districts in Ocean Hill-Brownsville, Brooklyn local jurisdiction of the school's budget, curriculum and administration in what back+fired in a major teacher's strike and a failed attempt. (Columbia University)


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.

Register To Vote or Be A Poll Worker

Voter Registration Forms
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Board of Elections
32 Broadway, 7th Floor
New York, NY

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Poll Worker Applications

After completing the forms, please send them to the address on the form.

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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
NY League of Women Voters
Common Cause New York

National non-partisan sites
Ctr. for Responsive Politics
Common Cause
League of Women Voters

NAACP Voter Empowerment
Vote Smart


Political consultants
Amer. Assc. of Pol. Consultants

Prime New York

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
Right to Life
Working Families
Marijuana Reform
Natural Law Party
Taxpayers Party

Political clubs and groups
Blueprint Camp. Finance Reform
Central Queens Greens
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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