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What is Searchlight on Campaign 2001?
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?
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?
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
What does this have to do with this site?
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?
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?
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
Who are we?
by Alan G. Hevesi
My closest friend in college died of leukemia last year. His youngest son
was on the 105th floor of Tower One. Everybody in New York City has been
personally touched by this vicious murder of thousands of our friends and
We've lost hundreds of firefighters, police and emergency service
-- a loss beyond words. It's incomprehensible.
As we mourn and bury our dead, the most important thing for us to
is that the task we face now is not just rebuilding. Our goal cannot be
end up in five years where we were two weeks ago. That's not even close
Our task is to create a better, stronger, more prosperous City. A City
continues to draw the toughest, smartest and most creative people in the
world because in the land of opportunity, this City defines opportunity.
I know we can go beyond expectations because of what we have already done
response to this tragedy in the last two weeks. As soon as the
towers had fallen thousands rushed in to save those who were trapped.
Firefighters and police officers worked tirelessly to save lives.
Construction workers from around the City raced to the site to help.
one there is a hero.
With magnificent leadership from Mayor Giuliani and with support from
Governor Pataki, New Yorkers did not panic. The terrorists destroyed the
twin towers, but we refused to let them destroy our City.
Now we must respond.
One of the greatest strengths we bring to that fight is our
diversity. The people who died in the twin towers and the rescue crews
represent every race, religion and ethnicity in the world. That's who we
as a City. Now more than ever, we must be vigilant against racism or
of any kind, especially against our Muslim and Arab American communities.
The first task is to restore confidence in the City. We know we live in a
dangerous world, and there is no longer absolute security anywhere. But
just as we won the war against crime, we can create an environment that
makes people confident that they can live, work and visit here.
New York City must do its part in the fight against terrorism. Working
the FBI and other agencies, the police department must develop contacts
sources within every community in the City, so that it can find and root
any terrorist cells that remain here. The police department should also
begin immediately recruiting and training security guards at all City
airports and public buildings.
The next mayor must create a security advisory commission headed by the
police commissioner and including representatives of the FBI, other
government agencies and the private sector. The commission will determine
the most effective security measures and a plan to implement them.
Restoring confidence will also require rebuilding the World Trade
Center and assisting businesses hurt by the attack to recover and to stay
New York City. We must convey the strongest possible message to every
single company, big and small, that we want them back in business right
here, as soon as possible.
I support the creation of a reconstruction authority with the power to get
the job done quickly. The authority will coordinate the efforts of the
federal, state and local governments and private companies. It will be
to issue bonds backed by federal assistance and, hopefully, federal
The authority will have a majority of mayoral appointees, but the City
need partners, so the commission should include representatives of the
and federal governments and the private sector.
Working with the Mayor, the authority's first job will be to develop a
special assistance package for businesses that suffered from the attack.
This Back to Business Incentive package, offered to businesses big and
small, will include:
- Tax breaks for up to 10 years, including business and commercial rent
breaks, for businesses that relocate anywhere in the five boroughs.
- Lower energy and communication costs.
- Revolving cash loans so that companies do not go out of business while
they relocate and resume operations.
- A training tax credit to help companies quickly train new workers,
utilizing the resources of local colleges and universities.
- Tax breaks and incentives for landlords who lost buildings or suffered
severe damage, to help them rebuild and attract tenants.
- Assistance for workers temporarily unemployed because of the attacks.
The authority will be responsible for using the federal
reconstruction aid to attract additional private money to make
reconstruction of the Trade Center possible. But we can't limit our vision
for the future to a rebuilt World Trade Center. To keep New York City
competitive, we must expand and improve. That means improving mass
including the full Second Avenue Subway and better connections between the
different regional systems. It means finding ways to cut down on traffic
congestion by building the freight tunnel. It means finding a way to
the West Side of Manhattan through careful long-range planning that
all the stakeholders. It means finding ways to protect our current
manufacturing sector. It means building a modern waterway transportation
system connecting all five boroughs and developing our underutilized
It won't be easy to find the financing for what amounts to the
equivalent of a Marshal Plan for renewing New York City. The next mayor
must work with our Congressional delegation to maximize federal aid, even
above the $20 billion already committed, and ensure that it has as few
restrictions as possible. We can combine the federal aid with new City
borrowing authority, including the new $2.5 billion that the State has
authorized for our existing Transitional Finance Authority.
We must work with the trustees of the City pension funds to help this
effort. Remember that during the fiscal crisis, the unions and pension
played an essential role in helping the City recover. The unions have
eager to find ways to invest more of the pension funds in New York. It is
important that we find a safe way for that to happen now.
Tourism is one of our most important industries. We must have an
aggressive campaign to show the people of America and the world that New
York City is a wonderful place to visit. In the short term, we will need
support and preserve our arts and cultural institutions and Broadway.
New York must be the most business friendly City in the country. We
must strengthen our economy and build jobs so that we will have the
resources we need to accomplish our other important tasks, including
creating the best urban school system in the country, building desperately
needed affordable housing, and sustaining programs for senior citizens.
In sum, our message must be clear. We will pause now to mourn our dead, an
overwhelming task. But the true monument we will build for those who died
is the new New York we will create. The time to invest in New York, to
create a business in New York, to buy a home in New York is now. Our best
days are yet to come.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
for Party Affiliation
Dream Party (AMD)
Better Schools Party (BES)
Friends United Party (FUN)
Fusion Party (FUS)
Harmony Party (HAR)
Marijuana Reform Party (POT)
Natural Law Party (NLP)
Party of Ethics and Traditions (PET)
Reform Party (Ref)
Right to Life (RTL)
School Choice Party (Sch)
Socialist Workers Party (SWP)
Working Families (Wor)
1 -- Deadline for candidates to join the Campaign Finance
program, qualifying for the four-to-one match of contributions.
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
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
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.