on the pull-down menu and select your district
Recent Feature Stories:
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
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?
NYC Issues 2001: Arts and Culture
By Norma Munn
There are four arts and cultural issues which the next
mayor and City Council must address if they want New York
City to remain a national and international center for
arts and culture.
- Commit to a cultural policy that provides equitable
and significantly increased resources from both the
expense and the capital budgets
- Restructure the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA)
- Sustain the increased funding for arts programs in
the public schools
- Address the severe and growing real estate problems
of non-profit arts organizations and individual artists
WHY THE ARTS MATTER
The arts and cultural industry is a complex ecosystem,
characterized by great diversity and an extreme concentration
of organizations in a small portion of Manhattan. Like
all ecosystems, there is a great degree of interdependence.
Arts disciplines and artists feed on one another in creative
ways that are essential to the vitality of the city --
not merely in the fine arts, but in advertising, publishing,
fashion, technology and design. Failures in one part of
this ecosystem eventually ripple through the entire community.
The role of arts and culture in the New York City of
the 21st century is more important than ever. Artists
offer fresh ideas to old challenges. Doing art encourages
thinking outside the box, an essential in the constantly
changing, fast moving environment of this city. Art also
provides forums for the civil discussion of disquieting,
even frightening, issues such as AIDs, racial and ethnic
tensions, gender and age discrimination.
ADEQUATE RESOURCES AND EQUITY
This year's budget provides $134 million for the Department
of Cultural Affairs from the expense budget and just over
$200 million in the capital budget. That seems like a
lot of money, but the Independent Budget Office calculated
that in fiscal year 2000 the city spent on a per capita
basis $41.75 for parks, $30.26 for libraries, and only
$17.54 on culture. The modest increase in the current
budget will not significantly change the per capita amount
The next administration, in cooperation with the City
Council, should set a goal of at least $35 per capita
for culture within the next four years. Without an adequate
investment of resources, the city cannot expect to provide
real access to the arts for all New Yorkers, nor can it
nurture and sustain the concentration of arts groups and
artists required to maintain New Yorks reputation as a
cultural center. In addition, the city must use new resources
more equitably. Increased dollars, if used as in the past,
will not accomplish the changes needed, and indeed would
probably be condemned.
DEPARTMENT OF CULTURAL AFFAIRS
The city currently has a cultural policy only by default.
It funds almost the same list of arts groups within the
expense budget as it did 12 years ago when the Board of
Estimate ceased. The actual dollar amounts have increased,
but in relation to the city budget, cultural funding is
smaller than in the mid-1980's. The Dept. of Cultural
Affairs is also smaller, but the diminished staff is expected
to process more contracts.
The Department of Cultural Affairs should be viewed both
as an economic development agency and one charged with
protecting and expanding the cultural heritage of the
city. Economic development in the arts is about jobs and
the economy of the arts; not cultural tourism, which is
far less important than the direct economic benefits from
arts and culture. One has only to think of how the entertainment
industry draws its actors, singers, choreographers, directors,
playwrights, lyricists, set designers, stage and technical
personnel, from the farm system we call Off and Off Off
Broadway, to realize that this ecosystem spreads far beyond
the non-profit arts. Popular entertainment could not exist
without the training provided in the non-profit arts.
As the primary vehicle for delivering the city's resources
to the cultural field, the Department of Cultural Affairs
cannot and does not provide what the arts need, nor what
the tax payer deserves. The fault lies directly with the
mayor. The agency should be restructured to provide the
- multi year contracts so stable planning can take place
- general operating support, which also stabilizes budgeting
by cultural groups
- competitive decisions about funding based on quality
of art and service to the community
- fellowships for individual artists
- access to project support for newer groups
- equitable funding across boroughs, racial and ethnic
lines, disciplines and size
- support for experimental initiatives
- endowment funds on a matching basis for mid-sized
One genuine legacy of the Giuliani administration is
the increased funding provided for arts programs in the
schools. After nearly two decades of scrounging for private
sector money to do this work largely without government
support, cultural groups welcomed the new funds.
The new funds require significant matching dollars and
extensive resources that many smaller cultural groups
have found difficult. There is also still not enough money.
Simmering behind the scenes are long standing differences
about whether this is a new employment opportunity for
teachers or arts program money. Since teachers are leaving
the system and there are few, if any, in training that
chose arts as the subject to teach, this issue is not
likely to become a major battleground any time soon.
The greatest anxiety comes from the insecurity surrounding
the funds. Providing good arts education is not easy,
and the cultural groups that do so want a clear sense
that this is an ongoing commitment. Arts groups know what
it took for them to put arts back into the public schools
when the city eliminated these programs in 1975 as unnecessary
to a proper education.
This initiative is identified with Mayor Giuliani. The
cultural community wants a promise from the next mayor
that the arts education dollars will not fall victim to
the political game of disparaging and/or eliminating the
programs of one's predecessors, as well as additional
funds clearly designated for arts education.
The cultural industry is not alone in its real estate
problems. However, exploding prices are hitting the extraordinary
concentration of non-profit arts groups in midtown and
lower portions of Manhattan especially hard. An unpublished
analysis by Cultural Affairs and the New York Foundation
for the Arts shows that nearly 60 percent of the arts
groups rent their space. In Manhattan 79 percent of those
leases expire in the next four years with the largest
number over the next 18 months.
Moving out of Manhattan may be one solution and the City
Council's plans to support the creation of cultural districts
outside of Manhattan is one way of addressing this issue.
However, when an arts group relocates, it must re-establish
its audience. That takes several years during which it
will have considerably less income. Earned income may
be as much as 60 percent of some groups' budget. Increased
funding is essential in those circumstances.
Other ideas include tax breaks for landlords who rent
at below market prices to the non-profit arts. (Clearly
this could, and should, be available to all non-profits.)
Individual artists are the backbone of the arts. The
crisis in low and moderate priced housing is as acute
for them as it is for many others. However, artists who
once were almost forced to move to New York City can now
look to other cities for employment and challenges not
available even a decade ago. Again, if the City wants
a thriving arts industry, it must recognize that talented
individuals with modest incomes are essential. So is their
Both the housing problem and the office/performing space
problems must be faced by government. The arts industry
is a major force within the city, but it cannot solve
the real estate problems. Innovative, serious and fast
action are needed from the city's elected representatives.
Time is running out.
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.