District 43 Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach, Bensonhurst
GOTHAM GAZETTE: SEARCHLIGHT ON CAMPAIGN 2001: DISTRICT 43

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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.

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Learn more about this district in Searchlight 2002

General Election Results

x-Martin J. Golden, Rep 16,747 - 58 percent
Joanne Seminara, Dem 11,893 - 42 percent

Primary Election Results

Joanne Seminara 4,348
Carlo A. Scissura 2,634
Ursula A. Gangemi 929
(Official Vote Count from the Board of Elections)

Incumbent: Martin J. Golden

The Candidates:


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

Michael Emperor has not filed
Contributors to Ursula Gangemi
Contributors to Martin Golden
Contributors to Joanne Seminara
Contributors to Carlo Scissura

City's Official Primary Election Voter Guide for Residents of District 43


Campaign Tangle:
Incumbent Councilmember Martin Golden challenged Republican Karen Ferraro's petitions and knocked her off the ballot. Now Golden will not have to run in a primary. Three Democrats are still battling for the chance to face him in the general election in November. Posted 8/27/01


Campaign Feature:
[Campaign Update]

Tough Love

Residents of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, and Bensonhurst are known for their neighborhood pride. Italian or Irish flags fly from many single-family homes. The streets are quiet, save for the children running off to school or homeowners sweeping their front stoops, and residents want to keep it that way.

But if residents of southeast Brooklyn love their neighborhoods, they also love to complain about them. There is even an online forum at the Web site BayRidge.com, where residents with screen names like BayRidgeBeauty78 and ABayRidgeGuy post messages about everything from nostalgic childhood memories to complaints about dirty streets and dirty politics.

Much complaining can also be heard during the morning and evening commute, as residents curse mass transit in the area.

People say they are fed up with dirty and eroding subway stations. Even the new buses with added seats, but less standing room, on the 27 and 17 express lines are a source of frustration. "The buses are nice looking, but cramped, uncomfortable and a waste of money," said Mark Colomba, a rider on the 17 bus.

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

Race:

  • White 75%
  • Hispanic 11%
  • Asian 8%
  • Black 5%

Median income: $48,726 (21st out of 51)

Unemployment rate: 7%

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

This year, a field of four Democratic challengers in district 43--all of them lawyers--are looking to unseat Republican City Councilmember Marty Golden by tapping into neighborhood complaints.

"I still can't understand how the present council member let our transportation issues slide by," said challenger Carlo Scissura. "We have dilapidated subway stations which have been ignored and which I want to restore. We must listen to the voices of our residents who are seeing transportation in their great neighborhood fall apart."

Joanne Seminara, who ran for City Council in 1997 and lost to Marty Golden, is also sympathetic to commuter dissatisfaction. "Transportation is a source of major frustration which I will seek to alleviate," said Seminara.

Beyond crumbling subway stations and cramped busses, many residents are livid over the valet parking offered by local restaurants, which leads to double parking and overcrowded streets. "Valet parking has become a scourge on our neighborhood," one resident wrote on BayRidge.com.

"There is a misconception that valet parking is illegal, but it is not," said Jeffrey Kraus, Marty Golden's campaign manager. "We have tried to open dialogue and work with many businesses that take part in valet parking, but it is not illegal."

Ursula Gangemi, daughter of former Republican Councilman John Gangemi, Sr., and the most recent addition to the list of Democratic candidates, thinks cooperation is the answer to parking issues. "A lot of businesses have parking lots which are used during the day and not at night. We should try to make those lots available to residents. We should join forces with businesses to stop our parking headaches."

And yet, these headaches of mass transit and parking may be a sign of more fundamental changes in the neighborhood.

Many say that there is too much development occurring in the area. Plans for the construction of the first Starbucks in Bay Ridge on Third Avenue have begun. Ninety-nine cent stores, which one resident called "a sore eye in our neighborhood" have opened along Fifth Avenue. Large condominiums and apartment complexes are being built in many parts of the area.

"We are suffering from over development in our low-rise community, too many large developers are coming in and submerging the tight-knit atmosphere in our neighborhoods," said Scissura.

"What we have seen lately, from our current councilman, is a taking advantage of loopholes in our district's special zoning laws in order to over-develop," added Seminara.

Councilman Golden disagrees and cites his record of supporting much needed facilities like a large senior citizen housing and opposing the construction of a large movie Cineplex in Narrows Lock.

The Democratic challengers have similar views on a number of such issues, and also share overlapping political connections.

Both John Orlando and Carlo Scissura were staffers under State Senator Vincent Gentile, although Scissura recently earned Gentile's endorsement. Joanne Seminara was a supporter of Gentile's 1996 and 1998 campaigns. Orlando also worked behind the scenes for John Gangemi Sr., a Republican who is candidate Ursula Gangemi's father.

There is no clear favorite in the race. Seminara, however, has received special attention since she lost the City Council race in 1997 by about 2,500 votes to Golden, who won the seat previously held by Democrat Sal Albanese.

Whoever wins must respond to the concerns over transportation, traffic, and over-development. And if they don't, they are likely to hear about it.

posted 6/5/01

Campaign Update:

Democratic candidate John Orlando dropped out of the race, and Karen Ferraro, who was challenging incumbent Councilmember Martin Golden for the Republican primary, has been knocked off the ballot. Councilmember Golden now awaits the winner of the Democratic primary, where three Democratic candidates are campaigning on a similar idea -- that Golden is out of touch with voters.

"Because you have someone like Councilman Golden who, in my opinion, hasn't represented the community, who hasn't been a star in City Council, and who only serves a very, very small part of his constituency, you have three viable candidates running aggressive campaigns," said candidate Carlo Scissura.

Golden's camp scoffs at Scissura's claim. "They are the ones who are out of touch," said Jeffrey Kraus, Golden's communications director. "They think if they repeat something enough, people will believe them." Kraus then noted that Scissura has had his own troubles in being removed from his position as vice-president of Community School Board 20.

"I was removed because I had to work late and got to a meeting a half hour late," said Scissura. "I don't think that it will affect my campaign because many people are also outraged about the decision. Mr. Golden should be very careful about trying to use this against me--he would be alienating a large part of our community."

Joanne Seminara is currently leading in fundraising among the Democratic candidates with over $150,000, including matching funds. Scissura has raised $110,000 and Gangemi has raised $58,000 (both figures also include the matching funds). Councilmember Golden has raised $150,000 (This is without matching funds, for which he does not qualify, because he has not no opponents in the primary).

Posted 8/27/01


Candidate Biographies

Michael Emperor (No information available)

Ursula Gangemi has been a practicing lawyer for eleven years and is part of the law firm, Gangemi and Gangemi.

Martin Golden is the current councilman for district 43. Before joining City Council, he was a New York City police officer, but was forced to retire in 1982 due to an injury obtained while carrying out a narcotics arrest. Golden owns a catering hall and became a member of community board 10 prior to winning his current City Council Seat. Golden attended the New York School of Printing, and John Jay College. He holds an Associate's Degree from St. John's University.

Joanne Seminara is a practicing lawyer, a member of community board 10, and is co-president of the Alliance of Bay Ridge Block Association. Seminara is a founding member of Bay Ridge Against Garbage Sites and has been a director of the Guild for Exceptional Children, a charity that serves developmentally disabled children. She graduated from Brooklyn Law School.

Carlo Scissura is a practicing attorney and former vice president of school board 20 where he was the chairman of the Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention committee and the Legislative Affairs committee. He worked as director of community affairs under State Senator Vincent Gentile and is a member of community board 11. Scissura attended Pace University School of Law and studied international law at the University of London.


Campaign Trail

Ongoing coverage of news in Bay Ridge, a message board where community affairs are discussed, and updates on district 43 City Council race, are available on Bayridge.com

8/6/01
Carlo Scissura, who earlier this month was removed from Community School Board 20 by the school chancellor, said this week that while he still hopes to be reinstated, he is also beginning to question the timing of what he called an "unfair" removal." (Bay Ridge Paper)

8/6/01
The American Heritage Political Organization, a Bay Ridge based Democratic club, this week pulled back its pledge of support for Joanne Seminara, a candidate in the 43rd council district race, because, club officials say the candidate broke a pre-petitioning period agreement. Ralph Perfetto, the district leader of the 52nd Assembly District, sent a letter to AHPO members dated July 22, arguing that Seminara had deceived him and the club by agreeing to respect their support for Mark Green for mayor and then circulating petitions within Bay Ridge for Mayoral candidate Peter Vallone." (Bay Ridge Paper)

8/6/01
Councilman Martin Golden is all talk when it comes to dealing with the transportation woes in his 43rd district, according to a newly formed political action committee. He claims to have a pipeline into the mayor's office,' said Dean Rasinya, founder of Citizen's for Responsible Representation (CRR). "But I don't think that the people in Bay Ridge and Fort Hamilton have really been served in an adequate way." Jeffrey Kraus, a spokesperson for Golden, goes on to rebuke the CRR by saying that the organization was comprised of only a handful of residents who have consistently criticized Golden. (Bay Ridge Paper)

7/30/01
There's no evidence that the graffiti artist who scrawled a giant 'Marty' in the new skateboard area of Owl's Head Park had councilman Marty Golden in mind, but Golden was instrumental in having the area set aside for skateboarders. (The Bay Ridge Paper)

7/23/01
The campaign for Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights City Council Seat heated up this week as several candidates prepared to challenge their opponents petitions to get on the election ballot in the September 11 primary. In this Democratic primary race, Nancy Rossi, a Bensonhurst resident filed a general objection to the petitions submitted by Joanne Seminara, who ran on the Democratic line in the 1997 election and lost to incumbent councilman Marty Golden. In the Republican primary, Golden told The Papers he had filed a general objection to the petitions of Karen Ferraro, the daughter of Assemblyman Arnaldo Ferraro, who had submitted petitions as part of a faction within the Kings County Republican Committee supporting the current party chairman, Arthur Bramwell. But according to a source within the Republican party, Ferraro did not submit enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. (The Bay Ridge Paper)

7/16/01
With just two months to go until primary day, the race to determine who will capture the democratic nomination to run for city councilmember in the 43rd councilmanic district, appears to have morphed. Back in the winter it appeared that it would be a three way race, with Joanne Seminara, Carlo Scissura and John Orlando--all attorneys with a track record of community service--dunking it out to for the opportunity to take on incumbent councilmember, Marty Golden, the likely Republican nominee, in November. Th en, unexpectedly, Ursula Gangemi, a fourth attorney, with a considerably lower profile, threw her hat into the ring. Most recently it appears John Orlando has pulled out, citing personal problem, leaving Scissura, Seminara, and Gangemi pounding pavement and doing subway stops. In itself, it may be somewhat unusual to see such competition where there is an incumbent in place who must unseated. But Golden is not your usual incumbent. Rather, over his term he has angered numerous people across the district on a variety of issues--so much so that both Scissura and Seminara contend that Golden is out of touch with what the community really wants and needs, and has made a policy of representing special interests, particularly business people, rather than the district's rank and file residents." (Bay Ridge Courier)

7/13/01
According to the Daily News, candidates who sit on community school boards receive fund-raising boosts within their school districts. One of those candidates is Carlo Scissura. (Daily News)

6/18/01
District leader Ralph Perfetto has decided to endorse Joanne Seminara in the Democratic primary for City Council. He also had some words on Carlo Scissura and Ursula Gangemi. 'I don't consider Ursula Gangemi a candidate. She's done nothing for the community,' said Perfetto. Perfetto also said that Council candidate Carlo Scissura was a 'bright young man with a good future,' but that his candidacy was premature. I agree with him in the first part of the statement," said Scissura. "I like Ralph. He's a good person, and I'm looking forward to working with him when I win the primary." (Flatbush Life)

6/18/01
The Lambda Independent Democrats, a lesbian and gay political group, has decided to endorse Joanne Seminara Lehu. Seminara Lehu, an attorney and member of community Board 10, expressed no feeling of fondness for her possible Republican rival, incumbent Councilmember Martin Golden. He's one of the most homophobic , if not the most homophobic member of City Council," she said adding that she has been one of the few 'voices of reason on the [community] board. Golden laughed when asked for a comment, and referred his question to his spokesperson, Jeffrey Kraus. "Her statement has no basis in fact," he said this week. "When Ms. Lehu ran in the primary in 1997, she prominently featured the endorsements of LID and the Empire State Gay Pride Agenda. However, in the general election, those two mysteriously disappeared. Obviously, she felt they were a liability," Kraus continued. "Ms. Lehu's commitment to Gay Rights seems to suit political convenience." When asked if Golden's staff described Seminara Lehu as anti-family in the 1997 election, as she has charged, Kraus said the councilman's staff simply said she had the support of those two groups. (Flatbush Life)

1/21/01
In a move that is sure to shake up the race for the Bay Ridge- Bensonhurst City Council seat, a lawyer from a prominent political family announced her intention to run. Ursula Gangemi, 35, says she will run in the Democratic primary in September for the council seat in the 43rd district." (Brooklyn Spectator)

12/18/00
As Mayor Giuliani vows another crackdown on drunken drivers, some bar and restaurant owners in Bay Ridge are installing alcohol-testing devices for their customers. "I think it's a good idea," said Marty Golden, owner of the Manor and the local city councilman. "A couple of seconds at the machine gives someone a chance to see if they should get behind the wheel." (Daily News)

12/09/99
In District 43, three Democratic candidates have emerged as possible challengers to Councilmember Marty Golden. Not surprisingly, all three are lawyers, which could make for either a very dull or very contentious primary. Two of the three, John Orlando and Carlo Scissura, were staffers for State Senator Vincent Gentile. The third, Joanne Seminara Lehu, helped Gentile in his successful 1996 and 1998 re-election bids. (Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn)

9/10/97
The results of the 1997 City Council races, including information on Martin Golden1s successful campaign in district 43. (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
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NYC Board of Elections
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Local non-partisan sites
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Votesmart
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NY League of Women Voters
Common Cause New York

National non-partisan sites
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NAACP Voter Empowerment
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E-Voting
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Political consultants
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Prime New York

Media
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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
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Republican
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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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