District 51 South Shore of Staten Island
GOTHAM GAZETTE: SEARCHLIGHT ON CAMPAIGN 2001: DISTRICT 51

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What is Searchlight on Campaign 2001?
Searchlight on Campaign 2001 is a guide to the political races in what many are calling New York City's most significant campaign season in modern history.

What is so significant about it?
For the first time in memory, most political offices in the city will be wide open to people who have neither money nor connections.

Why will the races be so open?
There are two reasons. This year, a new law goes into effect that limits the terms of New York City elected officials, forcing the mass retirement of most incumbents in the city - including the mayor, the comptroller, the public advocate, four of the five borough presidents, and 36 of the 51 members of the City Council. At the same time, a new campaign finance law kicks in, which allows any candidate who agrees to certain restrictions to collect four dollars of matching funds for every dollar they raise.

What does this have to do with this site?
As a public service, Searchlight on Campaign 2001 has a separate page for each race, including all the races for City Council, that not only sorts out the candidates -- many of them new and unfamiliar -- but also offers an opportunity to learn about the issues, and the districts themselves.

Who is behind Searchlight on Campaign 2001?
Searchlight on Campaign 2001 is a project of Gotham Gazette, a non-profit, non-partisan, non-ideological (but non-boring) web site about New York City news, policy and politics published by Citizens Union Foundation, part of the oldest and largest good-government group in the city (founded in 1897).

What's wrong with the way the regular press covers the races?
That is for you to decide. And one of our regular features, Campaign Trail, helps you to decide. Campaign Trail provides succinct summaries and links to campaign articles in the commercial press.

Who are we?
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Learn more about this district in Searchlight 2002

General Election Results

x-Andrew J. Lanza, Rep 26,129 - 73 percent
Janey Moran, Dem 9,405 - 26 percent
Henry J. Bardel, Ind 503 - 1 percent

Primary Election Results

Andrew J. Lanza 4,144
Alexander A. DeMarco 1,253
(Official Vote Count from the Board of Elections)

Incumbent: Stephen Fiala

The Candidates:


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

Henry Bardel has not filed
Contributors to Alexander DeMarco
Contributors to Andrew Lanza
Contributors to Janey Moran

City's Official Primary Election Voter Guide for Residents of District 51


Campaign Feature:
[Campaign Update]

Keeping Staten Island on the Map

Earlier this year when Staten Island Councilman Stephen Fiala cast the deciding "no" vote on a bill to overturn term limits and made front page news with his passionate speech, it looked like the 33-year-old Republican was set to be a star in the new City Council.

But in June, Fiala surprised many when he announced that he would not seek reelection and instead would accept a county clerk position. The move is a good one for Fiala -- the 10-year appointment pays $125,000 a year and could be used as a springboard to run for higher office -- but it sent the Republican party in district 51 scrambling to fill his spot on the ballot.

But district 51 is now not only without an incumbent, and without even a frontrunner known for his eloquence, it is also suddenly without the issue that has driven the district, indeed the whole borough, for decades. The Fresh Kills landfill, the city's major garbage dump, which is in district 51, was finally shut down in March.

Several of the most prominent Staten Island Republicans, including Fiala, recently endorsed Andrew Lanza, but he is likely to face a primary challenge from businessman Al DeMarco and Department of Taxation and Finance employee Louis Lepore.

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

Race:

  • White: 88%
  • Hispanic: 6%
  • Asian: 5%
  • Black: 1%

Median income: $64,214 (Ranks 3rd out of 51)

Unemployment rate: 5%

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

"Andy [Lanza] is a great guy, but he's a new kid on the block," said DeMarco. "He's an attorney from Wall Street, but people out here are not lawyers, they are small business people like me."

Two other challengers, Democratic candidate Janey Moran and Green Party Chairman Henry Bardel, also said they also have a shot.

"Without an incumbent, it is a more open race," said Moran, who also has the backing of outgoing Staten Island district 49 Councilman Jerome O'Donovan and the Working Families Party.

Lanza, a lawyer and former prosecutor for the Manhattan district attorney's office, refused requests for an interview. Louis Lepore could not be reached.

The other candidates agreed that (now that Fresh Kills is closed) over-development in the largely suburban and affluent area is one of the main issues of the election.

Staten Island's South Shore is one of the fastest growing communities in New York. Today, there are 450,000 residents in Staten Island, tripling in population since the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge opened in 1967. The number of Staten Island residents has increased 30 percent in the last 10 years alone.

Area roads, infrastructure, and schools have not kept pace with growth, the candidates said, but they disagree on exactly how the problems should be addressed.

"In order to grow properly, roads and infrastructure must meet the needs of the community with properly planned construction," said Moran, who thinks new development should be slowed and controlled through better planning. Moran added that if elected, she would also focus on education and place new schools in areas where they are most needed.

Green candidate Henry Bardel, a retired New York City Parks employee, advocates for a complete moratorium on housing development and wants to rehabilitate vacant buildings.

"The increasing development onto Staten Island's wetlands and estuaries is ripping away the beauty and nature that this island was known for years ago," said Bardel. He also argues that community board members should be elected rather than appointed by the borough president, which would free them to make more considered and independent decisions about new development.

Republican Al DeMarco said the area should be selective about the kind of houses it builds. "We should start building four and five luxury homes in the district, instead of building 500 town homes," said DeMarco.

"We will seek to preserve what makes life in this community worth living, whether it's continuing the down zoning process or making sure education on the South Shore is second to none," Lanza said in a recent campaign speech.

Another impact of the growing population is increased traffic congestion, since there are few mass transit options. Only one train line leads into the area, and recently the Metropolitan Transportation Authority reduced bus service in Staten Island. As a result, private bus companies are now operating in parts of district 51, but many say the service is unreliable.

Moran said she would rather see the Metropolitan Transportation Authority handling bus service because she feels the city could, and should, do a better job. Bardel said he would be in favor of private bus service, as long as the workers can unionize. "That is a large issue in my campaign," said Bardel, "I have always felt that New Yorkers can have a better quality of life as long as city services are properly funded and are working for the people."

In March, the area saw a major victory with the closing of the Fresh Kills landfill, which received most of the city's trash for the last 52 years.

"Life after Fresh Kills will be 300 percent better," said DeMarco.

While residents are rejoicing that the landfill will not grow any larger, it will not shrink anytime soon. The laws maintain that the landfill must be maintained for the next 30 years and methane gases and water quality in the area will continue to be an issue. Once the landfill settles, it may be converted into a park or a golf course.

The most immediate impact of the closing, however, may be that Staten Island no longer receives the attention in City Hall that it has in recent years. Some in district 51 hope that the new council member can keep the area on the political agenda now that Fresh Kills is closed and the Republican mayor is on his way out.

"I hope that the candidates realize what good things have been happening here on Staten Island," said Marie Bodner, district manager of community board 3, "and that they will continue the current path towards improving the quality of life for people on Staten Island."

posted 6/27/01

Campaign Update:

There are two primary races in the district 51 City Council race. In the Republican primary. Andrew Lanza will face Alexander DeMarco. Lanza enjoys the endorsement of the Staten Island Republican political leaders and a $80,000 advantage in fundraising over DeMarco. Carl Larson, the owner of a private security agency, is challenging Henry Bardel for the Independence party nomination with a write-in campaign.

In the general election on November 6, Democratic and Working Families candidate Janey Moran will try to pull off an upset in an area with a long history of Republican leadership. Statistically it is not an impossible feat. Registered voters in district 51 are evenly split between the two major parties -- 38 percent are registered Republicans and 39 percent are registered Democrats. But the 19 percent of voters who are not registered with either party have a history of voting Republican.

posted 8/31/01


Candidate Biographies

Henry Bardel is a retired employee of the New York City Parks and Recreation department after working there for 34 years. He is the chairman of the Staten Island Green party and an active member of the local community board.

Alexander DeMarco is president of the Great Kills Merchants Association and the South Shore Business Alliance.

Janey Moran is co-president of the Tottenville High School Parent Teacher Association. She is also a member of the 123rd Precinct Community Council and the District Attorney's South Shore Justice Council. She is also on the executive board of the Village Greens Homeowners Association.

Andrew Lanza is a member of the Republican Party's executive committee. He is a partner at a Wall Street brokerage firm and a former prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney's office.


Campaign Trail

08/23/01
South Shore City Council candidate Janey Moran yesterday called on legislators to restore funding to the Project Read program. Speaking to a group of about 15 parents outside PS 42 in Eltingville, Ms. Moran said the elimination of the program "is a tremendous step backward for the children of Staten Island." The city has moved to eliminate the program because of state budget cuts to education. Ms. Moran, who has served as a PTA president at PS 4, Arden Heights, and Tottenville High School, has been endorsed by the Democratic and Working Families parties. Project Read is a $4.5 million intensive after-school language arts program targeting students in grades one through four. Ms. Moran said the three-year-old program has led to a 12-percent increase in reading scores among fourth-graders on Staten Island. About 4,000 District 31 students were taking part in the program, she said, and educators were hoping a similar program would be put in place to help students with math. (Staten Island Advance)

6/22/01
South Shore City Councilman Stephen Fiala announced he will resign from office effective today to accept an appointment as county clerk, a position he had sought publicly since March. (Staten Island Advance)

6/10/01
Describing herself as a "good soldier" who has served the community for over 20 years, South Shore City Council candidate Janey Moran yesterday said that education would be one of her top priorities if elected to the Council. (Staten Island Advance)

5/24/01
Pledging to limit over-development and expand bus service on Staten Island, borough president candidate Jerome X. O'Donovan and City Council hopefuls Michael McMahon and Janey Moran last night signed a contract with the Working Families Party to solidify its endorsement. (Staten Island Advance)

5/21/01
City Councilman Stephen J. Fiala having announced he will not run for re-election to his seat, Great Kills lawyer Andrew Lanza announced his candidacy for the seat yesterday at the Great Kills Little League. Flanked by family and surrounded by about 50 supporters, including Fiala and Congressman Vito Fossella, who represents the area, the 37-year-old Republican businessman said he chose the Great Kills site to make his bid because the ballfield complex is a "shining example of what's right about the South Shore." The Democratic candidate for the South Shore seat is Janey Moran, a PTA president from Arden Heights. The Green Party candidate is Henry Bardel, chairman of the Island's Green Party, who is also running under the Liberal Party banner. (Staten Island Advance)

5/18/01
With no surprises, but a few lively moments thrown in, Staten Island Democrats last night ratified their slate of candidates for the fall 2001 elections. (Staten Island Advance)

 

Districts of the Week

District 1 -- Lower Manhattan
Whoever wins the election in district 1 will represent immigrant Chinese garment workers, as well as Wall Street traders living in Battery Park City. There are several candidates hoping to be the council's firsts -- the first Asian-American man, the first Asian-American woman, the first gay Rhodes Scholar, the first dot-com guru -- running against some politically well connected opponents. Endorsements and fundraising will play a big role in this race. But voter turnout could be the main determinant of who will next represent district 1 on the council. The key question is how many voters from each community will come out on Election Day.

District 7 -- Washington Heights, Manhattan
The northern tip of Manhattan has become one of the most popular places for new immigrants to call home. The northern tip of Manhattan is a place that today's new immigrants call home. The majority have come from the Dominican Republic, but also from countries in South America, Eastern Europe, and Asia. But it is not just new immigrants that are moving in. Students, artists, and other Manhattanites looking for less expensive rents and larger apartments have also moved north. Ten Democratic candidates are competing for the 15,000 voters expected on primary day. The winner who emerges from a crowded field of candidates will have to balance the needs of the newcomers with those who have lived there for years.

District 16 -- Highbridge, Bronx
The neighborhoods of district 16 are the city's poorest, with the highest rate of unemployment and the lowest median household income. But those who live there also point out that much is positive and stable about the area, thanks in large part to local organizations, not-for-profit agencies, and houses of worship that help hold the neighborhoods together. Each candidate for City Council believes that through his or her connections to churches and local organizations, they can help empower the community toward a better life. Helen Foster, the current council member daughter, will face Michael Benjamin, who has worked as an aide to several government officials and Anthony Curry, a Bronx neighborhood activist.

District 20 -- Northeast Flushing, Queens
This year district 20 may elect the first Asian-American ever to the City Council to an area which now has the second highest number of immigrants from Korea and Taiwan in the city. There are three Asian candidates in the Democratic race who have each drawn big endorsements. Council Speaker Peter Vallone endorsed Terence Park, City Comptroller Alan Hevesi endorsed John Liu, and the New York Times recently endorsed Ethel Chen The campaign has also drawn national and international press coverage

District 25 -- Jackson Heights, Queens
Thirty-seventh Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens is one of the most diverse streets in the world. Little India quickly blends into Little Colombia, with vendors selling Latin American food to Colombians, Peruvians, Ecuadorians, Mexicans, and Uruguayans. And each summer, the Queens Pride Parade fills the same street with rainbow banners. So it is no surprise that this election year the district produced a diverse field of candidates. A number of them, however, found out that getting on the ballot is not an easy task, especially when the Queens Democratic organization sends teams of lawyers to challenge petitions. But five Democratic candidates survived and will face off on September 11.

District 31 -- South East Queens
When a heavy rain hits southeast Queens, many residents in neighborhoods like Springfield Gardens, Laurelton and Rosedale head to the basement with a bucket in hand. And it has been that way for the last 50 years. In the rush to build housing in the area after World War II, developers overlooked the need for storm drains in hopes that the city would eventually build a city-wide sewer system. The plan never materialized and the area has experienced "100-year rains" three times in the last decade. The eight Democrats -- all with little experience overseeing massive infrastructure projects--will try to convince voters that they can finally solve the flooding problems.

District 35 -- Central Brooklyn
The residents in council district 35 have some of the highest incomes in Brooklyn and some of the lowest. They can play in a famous park and a beautiful botanical garden, and live in the city's most crumbling public housing. They can attend one of the four institutions of higher learning in the district, and the worst-scoring high schools in the city. Such juxtapositions are a way of life for a district that includes the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens; mid dle-class African-American communities near Prospect Park; immigrant communities from Haiti, Sierra Leon, Nigeria, and Trinidad, and in Crown Heights, a mix of Hasidic Jews and African-Americans. Seven Democratic candidates are campaigning in hopes that they can bring some kind of unity, and attention, to the area. Their backgrounds are as diverse as the neighborhoods themselves.

District 39 -- Park Slope/Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
The candidates in district 39 include a chief of staff for an Assemblywoman, the husband of a member of U.S. Congress, a lawyer for the Legal Aid Society, an attorney and president of the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats, Senator Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, the district manager of Community Board 6, and a labor organizer. This is the race to watch this year. The group of high-profile Democrats have raised a lot of money, almost $1.4 million combined.

District 45 -- East Flatbush
In no place in the city are the effects of campaign finance reform and term limits being felt more than in East Flatbush. The seven Democratic candidates seeking to represent this largely West Indian district come from a number of Caribbean nations. Many have been working on politicians' staffs and serving with community groups, clearly hoping someday to win their own elected office. Term limits has presented them with that opportunity, and they want to make the most of it. But this race that usually draws only about 8,000 voters could be decided by just a few votes. The candidates are attempting to come up with anything that will separate them from the pack.

District 49 -- North Shore, Staten Island
Staten Island has always been somewhat of a suburban stepchild to New York City. When a 1998 survey asked New Yorkers why they go to Staten Island, the top two responses were ''visiting friends and relatives" and ''passing through.'' But in many ways, the north shore has more in common with areas of Manhattan and Brooklyn than with the rest of the Staten Island. The top priority for all the candidates -- Jon Del Giorno, an administrative manager for the Board of Elections, Mike McMahon, an attorney and counsel to current Councilmember Jerome O'Donovan, and Debi Rose, an administrator at the College of Staten Island and the first African-American candidate in Staten Island politics -- is to make sure that the island becomes more than just a turn-around-point for the over one million tourists who ride the free ferry from Manhattan each year.


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Links You Can Use

Government sites
NYC Campaign Finance Bd.
NYC Board of Elections
NYC Voter Assistance Comm.
NY City Council
Federal Election Comm.

Local non-partisan sites
SavvyVoter.org
NYVote.com
Votesmart
NYPIRG
NY League of Women Voters
Common Cause New York

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

NAACP Voter Empowerment
Vote Smart

E-Voting
Election.com

Political consultants
Amer. Assc. of Pol. Consultants

Prime New York

Media
Gotham Gazette
The Empire Page
Campaigns and Elections
Legislative Gazette

Political columnists
Andrea Bernstein
Joe Conason
Mario Cuomo (radio)
Rudy Giuliani (radio)
Clyde Haberman
Nat Hentoff

Joseph Mercurio
Joyce Purnick
John Tierney
Michael Tomasky

Political parties
Conservative
Democratic
Green
Independence
Liberal
Republican
Right to Life
Working Families
Communist
Libertarian
Marijuana Reform
Natural Law Party
Socialist
Taxpayers Party

Political clubs and groups
Blueprint Camp. Finance Reform
Central Queens Greens
DL21C
The Jefferson Democratic Club of Flushing
NY Young Republican Club
Stonewall Democratic Club
Village Independent Dems.


Abbreviations for Party Affiliation

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


2001 Election Calendar

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

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