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The Nod of the Bosses... Scramble for the City Council... Basic Training for Council Recruits... How They Stack up on Term Limit... Dynasties... The Speech that Saved Term Limits...


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?


Ethics In Government: Peter Vallone

1. CAMPAIGN FINANCE: The city's landmark campaign finance program is now 13 years old.

a) What is your assessment of how the program is working? What changes, if any, would you seek in that law?

In the past, special interests with wealth and influence, some of which were not even based in New York City, could wield an inordinate amount of influence over City politics by giving large campaign contributions. To successfully run for office, candidates often needed to solicit some large checks from a few wealthy organizations and individuals. This system would tie some elected officials to the interests of a concentrated few, making City government less responsive to the needs of City residents.

The City's Campaign Finance Act has changed all of this. I introduced the original legislation specifically to achieve four objectives: (1) improve popular understanding of local issues; (2) broaden both voter and candidate participation in local elections; (3) reduce inordinate influence of large campaign contributors upon elected officials; and (4) enhance public confidence in local elections. To these ends, the program has been working extremely well, giving the average citizen a bigger voice in the City's electoral politics.

The program's measure of success can also be gleaned from two other factors. First, participation in the City's voluntary program is virtually 100 percent. Second, the program has been a model that is regularly used to advise other jurisdictions on campaign finance reform. Overall, the program is proving successful in creating a true City government "of the people, by the people, and for the people." I consider its creation one of my proudest achievements as Speaker.

There is always room for improvement in any legislation, including in our campaign finance reform laws. For instance, the law does not clearly define or regulate "soft money." Soft money is essentially cash flow that benefits a campaign, yet evades campaign finance regulation. Therefore, some inordinate influence by special interests may still be exercised through these soft money contributions and expenditures. Another improvement could come by making the program more user-friendly for candidates. A candidate faces a barrage of confusing rules and requirements when joining the program, and sometimes it is difficult to anticipate how the Campaign Finance Board will determine an excessive contribution or an improper expenditure. Therefore, in the future, we should find ways to simplify participation in the program in a way that does not jeopardize efforts to prevent campaign abuses.

b) In 1998, the law was amended in several ways. These include a four-to-one match of smaller contributions from city residents; a ban on corporate contributions; a requirement that candidates disclose if contributors are doing business with the city; and a requirement that political action committees register with the board to qualify as contributors. What is your opinion of the impact of these changes?

The changes made to the campaign finance laws in 1998 have benefited the electoral process and the City considerably.

Four-to-one-Match: The four-to-one matching formula is vitally important to the success of our campaign finance laws. The matching formula gives greater value to small contributions and therefore to the average City voter. It also allows candidates of average financial means to wage competitive campaigns without needing to seek financing from a few interest groups. Since the four-to-one matching formula has been in effect, the number of smaller contributions from average New Yorkers is increasing and more candidates than ever are running for public office. The four-to-one matching formula is therefore achieving its intended effects. I am proud to have been able to insure the passage of legislation earlier this year, which protects the matching contribution from erosion and legal challenge.

Corporate Contribution Ban: While a corporation's support of a specific candidate or campaign might reflect its public endorsement of a particular political or social doctrine, it might also reflect other, more financially beneficial interests of the corporation itself. By outlawing corporate contributions, a greater emphasis has been placed upon the importance of individual contributions, which enhance the voice and influence of the individual citizen and voter. Overall, I believe that the outright ban on corporate contributions, which the City's electorate voted for in 1998, significantly increases the public's confidence in the electoral process.

Candidate Disclosure of Contributions from Those Doing Business with the City: In 1998, the City electorate voted in favor of candidate disclosure of contributions from sources doing business with the City. The precise impact of this new provision cannot be assessed since it has not yet been implemented. Defining who does business with New York City has proven a daunting task. The Campaign Finance Board issued proposed regulations on this matter and many City agencies, the City Council and civic groups have researched and commented extensively on the matter. Still, how broadly or narrowly one wants to define it, the concept remains problematic.

Elected officials make and influence many decisions on City contracts, permits, franchises and other private concessions. Of course, these decisions must be based on the best interests of the City. The democratic process as well as public confidence is tainted when such decisions are skewed in favor of enterprises that have given campaign contributions. Therefore, the City needs to move forward and identify who should be included under the disclosure requirement without running the risk of chilling legitimate campaign contributions, or placing overly burdensome reporting requirements upon candidates.

Registry Requirement for Political Action Committees: As one means of regulating and monitoring "soft money" contributions, the Council passed legislation requiring political action committees to register with the Campaign Finance Board before they make any contribution to any candidate who has joined the Campaign Finance Program. The Board requires that committees include in the registration application such information as the nature of the committee's activities and whether it makes monetary contributions, in-kind contributions or independent expenditures on behalf of a particular cause or candidate.

The registry requirement is helping the Board to identify political action committees and the various ways in which they support political candidates other than giving direct contributions. This information will be helpful to further study the influence of "soft money" through independent and in-kind expenditures by committees. The more the City learns about soft money, the better able it will be to find ways to regulate it.

2. ETHICS RULES: The city charter's conflicts of interest rules were last revised in 1988.

a) What changes, if any, do you support in the city's current conflicts of interest provisions?

There are several significant changes in the City's Conflicts of Interest Code (Charter Chapter 68) that should be addressed. The Conflicts of Interest Board should be a truly independent agency and therefore, I support changing the appointment process for members of the Board. Currently, the Board has five members, all of who are appointed by the Mayor with the advice and consent of the Council. I would support a Board comprised of two Mayoral appointees, two Council appointees and a Chair jointly appointed by the Mayor and the Council. I would support amending Chapter 68 to give the Board subpoena power and independent investigative authority over all alleged violations of Chapter 68 so that it would not have to rely upon the Department of Investigation to conduct its investigations. I would also ensure that the Conflicts of Interest Board has the necessary resources to carry out its Charter-mandated mission. These changes would go a long way toward preserving the independence and integrity of the Board's operations.

I also support amending Chapter 68 to make it easier for every public servant to read and to understand. Presently, many of Chapter 68's provisions are unclear and confusing, and in some cases, different provisions appear to conflict with one another. Chapter 68 should flow more logically and make common sense so that all public employees can readily understand its provisions.

b) The charter's "revolving door" rules prohibit former city employees from representing paying clients before their former agency for one year after leaving city service. Similar revolving door prohibition on the state level is for two years; five years on some federal level. Do you believe the city's current revolving door provisions are adequate?

I believe that the current post-employment or "revolving door" restrictions contained in Chapter 68 are adequate. The post-employment restrictions are intended to prevent City employees from exploiting public office for personal gain and from exerting special influence over government decision-making through contacts made while working for the City. However, these important public policies must be balanced against the reality that City government, as an employer, is always competing with the private sector to employ and retain the highest quality personnel. During a robust economy, such as we have experienced over the past several years, it becomes even more difficult for City government to lure the best and the brightest away from the private sector. For these reasons, I think that the current post-employment restrictions, particularly the one-year post-employment appearance ban and the lifetime ban prohibiting former public servants from ever working on particular matters with which they were personally and substantially involved as public servants, strike the appropriate competitive balance. More restrictive post-employment rules would make people more reluctant to work for City government out of fear that they would be handicapped in their efforts to find future private sector employment.

3. CITY HALL STEPS: There has been an ongoing controversy on access to City Hall and its steps, with Mayor Giuliani citing security concerns to impose a permit system for groups seeking to hold news conferences and other events on the steps and plaza area. What would be your policy on the use of City Hall for these activities? Do you support, oppose or have another position on the current permitting regulations? A bill -- Intro 657-A -- is pending in the City Council to suspend the permitting requirements for groups under a certain number. Do you support, oppose or have another position on the bill?

I have and continue to vigorously oppose the restrictions and regulations that the current Administration has adopted regarding access to City Hall. City Hall is the principal seat of government for the City of New York, housing both the executive and legislative branches of government. The steps and plaza area of City Hall have historically served as settings for press conferences, public ceremonies and political or other ideological expressive gatherings among individuals engaged in peaceful protest. Unfortunately, the Administration's rules articulate a philosophy that the steps and plaza area of City Hall are closed rather than open for the purpose of press conferences, demonstrations and similar activities. The regulations leave far too much discretion with the Police Department to suspend activities in the City Hall area in the event of an emergency or period of heightened security. Certainly, the police must be afforded discretion to react to emergency situations, but the inclusion of the language "heightened security" in the current rule allows for speculation and uncertainty. It is difficult to understand the logic that allows for an exemption for certain City-sponsored activities during emergency or heightened security situations where attendance can be in the thousands, but a group of ten people who wish to hold an expressive gathering would be prohibited during the same period.

Recognizing that in providing access to a public forum, there is a need to balance the compelling concern to preserve safety and security with the fundamental right to freedom of expression, I do not believe that the Administration's current rules appropriately strike that balance. As Mayor, I will re-open City Hall and City Hall Park to the public and I will remove restrictions on the use of City Hall steps for citizens and citizen organizations to use for news conferences and protests.

4. CROSSWALKS: In 1993, the city created the Crosswalks channels, which cablecasts the public activities of the mayor, City Council, other officials and city agencies.

a) What, if any, changes would you make in Crosswalks coverage and operations?

b) In recent years, the city has used its Crosswalks channels in a variety of ways. These include cablecast of track races to assist the Off Track Betting Corporation; leasing the channels to commercial foreign language program; and for CUNY television. Would you continue these uses? What other kind of programming would you envision for Crosswalks?

I think Crosswalks cable TV coverage is a great thing for the City as it enables New Yorkers to see City government in action. As Mayor, I would continue Crosswalks coverage and look to expand it. Scheduling of broadcasts needs to be improved so that the public can readily find out when certain events will be aired. I also support using Crosswalks for educational purposes associated with CUNY and for foreign language programming which benefits the many non-English speakers in our City. As OTB is owned by the City, I do not object to using the City's public access stations to broadcast races. In the event that OTB is sold, over the Council's objections, we would need to reconsider this contract. I would like to see Crosswalks programming benefit the City. Tutorials for civil service exams could be broadcast on Crosswalks, as well as programming to educate City residents about how New York City government works.

5. PUBLIC INFORMATION: The 1989 charter created a Commission on Public Information and Communication, chaired by the Public Advocate. It mission includes: reviewing city information policies and the use of new communications technologies for the city; and issuing advisory opinions on Open Meetings and Freedom of Information requests. It has not been funded since 1991 and has rarely met in recent years.

a) What role, if any, do you see COPIC serving during the next four years?

b) What other steps would you take to assist New Yorkers in obtaining information about government activities and services?

The Commission on Public Information and Communication should be a reality for New York City and the Commission should operate in a manner, which follows its Charter mandate. In this day and age, as technological innovations constantly impact the way information is shared, it is crucial that the City closely monitor how well it reach out to the public. As Mayor, I would fund COPIC. The City must make efforts to reach out to the public to keep people informed about available services, programs, new laws and changes in government. We can do this through the media, the Internet as well as through agencies' interactions with residents. I also would look into partnering with private entities, such as utility companies, to include important information in their mailings to City residents.

6. WHISTEBLOWERS: What additional protections, if any, would you support to protect city employees who report government corruption, waste or inefficiency?

During my tenure as Speaker I have ensured that whistleblowers receive protection when they call to attention abuses and violations of law by City officers and employees. I would support expanding the protections afforded to City employees under the City's current Whistleblower Law. Some of the changes that are being considered are: expansion of the Whistleblower Law's protection to officers and employees of all City agencies, not just to officers and employees of a City agency whose members are appointed by the Mayor; expansion of the categories of activities that a whistleblower may disclose, such as gross mismanagement or waste of public funds; broadening of the category of individuals to whom a whistleblower may make a protected disclosure to include other governmental entities, such as the appropriate law enforcement agency or the Conflicts of Interest Board; and the imposition of time limitations where certain actions are required to be taken under the law. Under the current law, there are no fixed time limitations.

7. CONTRACTING: New York City purchases more than $7 billion a year in goods and services. The new charter made sweeping changes in the way the city contracts, placing basic authority for the award of city contracts with the office of the mayor. What steps have you taken and would you take to insure efficient and ethical city contracting?

Over the last twenty years, we passed a host of legislation aimed at effectuating positive political change by using the city budget. Two examples are laws that were passed to end apartheid in S. Africa and the MacBride principles, which sought to end Catholic discrimination in Ireland. We've also passed legislation requiring the City to act responsibly and ethically by requiring contractors doing business with the City to pay prevailing wages to their security, temporary, cleaning and food services employees. More recently, I presided over the overrode of the Mayor's veto, resulting in the enactment of anti-sweatshop legislation requiring vendors who supply the City with apparel and textile goods to pay non-poverty wages to their employees. I believe all of these laws, along with many others, demonstrate my commitment to ethical contracting on the part of the City.

We also need to make sure that our contracting is done efficiently and with adequate oversight to prevent any real or perceived impropriety.

8. DEPARTMENT OF INVESTIGATION: The Commissioner of Investigations serves at the pleasure of the mayor. Some have argued that granting the commissioner a fixed term would increase their independence; others have said that it is important for the commissioner to be fully accountable to a mayor and thus removable when necessary. Do you support, oppose or have another position on having the commissioner serve for a fixed term?

I believe that the Commissioner of the Department of Investigation should be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the Mayor. As Mayor, I would appoint a Commissioner who is fair and impartial and who, like me, understands that his/her role is to best serve the people of the City of New York. I do not believe any benefit gained by a fixed term would outweigh the importance of having the DOI Commissioner work closely with and be accountable to the Mayor.

9. PRIVATE FUNDS: There has been continuing controversies about the use of private funds in government projects.

a) Past mayors have set up private corporations to solicit funds for summit meetings, travel abroad, parades, inaugurations and other events. What is your view on the appropriate role for the use of private funds to support these initiatives?

I believe there is a limited role for the use of private funds to pay for certain costs associated with being Mayor, but which are separate from government. I think it sometimes makes sense to use private funds for non-City-related travel, inaugurations, parades and events. These are not costs that should be funded by taxpayer dollars. I do believe that private funds used for these functions must be well documented and made public (upon request) to ensure that no conflicts of interest arise.

b) City parks officials came under fire for requiring groups wishing to use parks for private events to pay differing fees to benefit a private parks foundation. How would you handle this situation?

As Speaker of the City Council, I have expressed my opposition and outrage over the Parks Department's policy of charging mandatory donations for use of parks. I do believe that sometimes it makes sense to charge fees for use of the parks for certain types of events and uses. Furthermore, there must be openness in the process so organizations are aware of what the fees will be, and have confidence that they are administered fairly. However, this money must go into the general fund of the City, and then be directed back to our parks. We cannot allow the funding to go into special accounts over which the City has little or no oversight. There must be transparency in the paying and spending of the fees. Over the last few months, I have been working with the Administration to develop a policy whereby fees are deposited into the City's general fund.

10. POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT: What are or would be your guidelines for insuring that government staff and resources not be abused for political campaign purposes?

In 1993, I authorized the creation of the Ethics Manual for Members and Employees of the New York City Council, which mirrors provisions of the City Charter. The manual -- a landmark document that has been imitated by other municipalities -- is a single, comprehensive reference containing guidance about the standards of conduct, rules, regulations and laws applicable to their activities as public servants. The Ethics Manual has helped foster an environment in which Council Members and employees are able to identify and avoid situations in which the propriety of their conduct may be questioned, all of which helps to promote public confidence in the integrity of government decision-making. As Speaker, I have not abused government staff and resources. As Mayor, this will continue.

11. VOTER REGISTRATION: Nearly two million New Yorkers who are eligible to vote are not registered to vote. In 2000, the city enacted a Pro-Voter law to strengthen voter registration activities by city agencies, including the non-partisan Voter Assistance Commission. As mayor, what steps would you take to encourage voter registration and participation? What role do you see for the Voter Assistance Commission?

First, I would review how well the Pro-Voter law is working. As it was passed just last year, the City will know more following the upcoming elections. Judging from our past experiences with the DMV, I anticipate that the 20 City agencies bearing this new responsibility will experience difficulties in carrying out the law. I expect that better enforcement and oversight mechanisms will need to be put in place, a function that the Voter Assistance Commission can undertake.

The Voter Assistance Commission carries a mission that is simple but profound ⤳ to increase voter registration and participation in the City, particularly among groups that have been underrepresented in the voter registration rolls. However, the Coordinator's position has been vacant for a number of years. This means that the Voter Assistance Commission has had no one to implement its mission. As Mayor, one of the first things I would do is recommend to the Commission various qualified, creative and energetic candidates for the Coordinator's position.

Concerning voter participation, I expect the Voter Assistance Commission to devise educational and outreach activities that will make voting easier. For example, I envision the Commission arranging for students and other volunteers to take part in this effort, such as assisting the disabled and elderly to get to the polls on Election Day.

Finally, I expect that modernization and increased efficiency of the election process will make voting more pleasurable than it is now with its long lines, broken machines and under-trained poll inspectors. I have discussed separately and in detail the precise steps I would take toward this modernization. Suffice it to say, I do believe modernization and technology can work to enhance democracy by making it easier to both vote and to register to vote.

12. INDEPENDENT BUDGET OFFICE: Both former Mayor Dinkins and Mayor Giuliani opposed establishing an Independent Budget Office, saying it was unnecessary despite civic and editorial support for the office. The IBO was eventually set up in 1995 by court order. Do you support, oppose or have another position on the continued existence of the IBO?

I support the Independent Budget Office and value its role in the City. As Speaker of the City Council, I made sure that the IBO received $2.7 million in Fiscal 1999 to enable it to perform its duties. As Mayor I will continue to support the IBO.

13. ELECTIONS: What steps would you take as mayor to improve and modernize how city elections are run by the Board of Elections?

There are a number of steps we must take to improve and modernize elections in New York City. First, and most importantly, we must replace the old lever machines. As Mayor, I will speak with a firm and strong loud voice to persuade the Governor and State legislature to take all necessary steps to effect a program of critically needed election reform and modernization that may be implemented uniformly throughout the State. Although the City does have the power to contract and purchase its own voting equipment, it is crucially important that our modernization project be linked to statewide reform, as City elections must comply with State law.

We do not need to reinvent the wheel in determining what kind of voting technology would be best for the City and the State of New York. Numerous jurisdictions and academic institutions have researched voting technology extensively. The City, itself, viewed a demonstration at a City Council Hearing held in February 2001 of Rhode Island's optical scanning system. This system has been widely successful, accurate and efficient, and has recently been approved by the State of Florida.

I believe there is little problem in understanding and selecting among the current voting technologies to replace our lever machines. The problem lies more in the legislative, political and administrative hurdles that must be overcome before a new system may be implemented.

The second step needed for electoral modernization is to bring more efficiency and better technology to the City's Board of Elections and other agencies that register voters. As Mayor, I would direct that a study be undertaken to determine how the Board of Elections could function more efficiently. I know that at least part of the problem is inadequate use of technology. For instance, the Board's web site could be expanded to provide far more information and services for voters. Training and recruitment data for poll workers could also be uploaded on the Web site.

Based on the problems experienced during the City's last election, I am certain that computer maintenance and storage of registration rolls need to be improved and expanded. Agencies that are required to offer and collect voter registration applications should have an easier system to transmit information directly to the Board of Election. Training and availability of personnel to use the technology is also inherent to modernization of these agencies.

14. TERM LIMITS: Term limits for all elected officials are due to take effect his year. Do you support, oppose or have another position on the city's term limits law?

I am personally against term limits. However, the voters of New York City have spoken twice through a ballot referendum, and each time they voted in favor of term limits for all City office holders. Therefore, I did not support the effort to repeal term limits through legislation introduced by several Council Members that would repeal the term limits law for City Council members. I urged my colleagues to not usurp the will of the people and expressed that the only proper way to abolish term limits was through the ballot box. The bill, fortunately, died in committee and was filed and is therefore no longer on the Council's agenda.

15. OTHER STEPS: What other steps, not discussed in answer to any of the above questions, would you take to enhance the integrity of city government, to fight corruption, and to reduce potential conflicts of interest in city government?

I have always maintained, and I continue to believe, that every City agency must have a counsel, on-site, who is available both to advise agency employees about Chapter 68 and to provide mandatory ethics training. Not only would this go a long way toward increasing compliance with Chapter 68 among City workers, but also it would also lessen the burden of the Conflicts of Interest Board and would help to prevent municipal corruption.

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Find what city council district you are in -- and learn more about what's going on there, and who's running.

What is this?
Gotham Gazette's Searchlight on Campaign 2001 offers a comprehensive look at what is being called New York City's most significant campaign season in modern history. (See the left-hand column for an explanation).

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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