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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?
Issues 2001: Social Services Overview
Every mayoral candidate has taken up the banner of affordable
housing -- a crucial area for the poor and homeless in this
city -- but there are many other social service issues crying
out for attention, as well.
- Putting emergency intake shelters for the homeless in every
borough (instead of just one in the Bronx) to make aid more
accessible for the 28,000 (and rising) homeless women, men
and children currently in city shelters.
- Providing supervised residential housing for people with
mental illness, as well as supportive housing for those recovering
from alcoholism or drug addiction.
- Supporting job training and a college education for those
on Workfare, lobbying the federal government to extend Temporary
Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), and assuring the 75,000
people who are losing their federal welfare benefits this
year that transfer over to the state "safety net" will be
as seamless as possible.
- Setting aside additional shelter beds for victims of domestic
violence, and supporting programs to prevent domestic violence,
family violence, youth violence, gun violence.
- Stopping the spread of AIDS, with a focus on young men
in the city WHO are engaging in unsafe sex, and African Americans,
who are ten times more likely to be diagnosed and ten times
more likely to die from the disease. Supporting needle exchange
programs that are proven to reduce the spread of HIV infection.
- Reducing spending on jails and prisons in favor of treatment
for drug offenders and an increase in programs that prevent
violence and child abuse. Providing mental health treatment
for the 15,000 to 20,000 people with mental illness currently
in the criminal justice system.
- Responding to the food shortages at pantries and soup kitchens
in the city amidst a sharp increase in need. In one month,
74,000 people were turned away last year, almost two-thirds
of them children. And many of the hungry adults are working;
they just don't earn enough to pay for both food and rent.
- People with disabilities need jobs; 60 percent of the disabled
who are able to work are unemployed or underemployed. They
also need accessible housing, accessible transportation, accessible
sidewalks. The elderly disabled -- half of them over 80 years
of age and living below the poverty line -- survive through
home-delivered meals programs that remain discretionary by
the New York
City Department for the Aging. People with developmental
disabilities who also have substance abuse problems are underserved
by specialized treatment programs that only have enough beds
for five percent of them.
- Defending immigrant rights, protecting against employer
exploitation of immigrants, supporting ESL classes and job
training, and campaigning for humane conditions for asylum-seekers.
GAY AND LESBIAN
- Acknowledging the need for education programs in the schools
to stop racism, anti-gay and lesbian violence, and the macho
mystique which promotes violence towards women.
THE CANDIDATES' POSITIONS
FERRER would increase funding for transitional and supportive
housing for people who are homeless, housing that would also
provide alcohol and substance abuse treatment and mental health
services. He would increase the number of overnight shelter
beds available, offer job training in conjunction with detoxification,
and create a special police division knowledgeable about the
homeless population to handle outreach. He has proposed construction
of 150,000 units of housing, with funding to come from cutting
some city contracts to private industry.
He promises to find sufficient shelter beds for victims of
domestic violence victims, provide adequate counseling, and
educate employers on how to spot domestic violence and abuse.
He is in favor of "real job" training for welfare recipients
and would use the TANF surplus (reportedly $7 million) to offer
support services such as child care, transportation, and financial
counseling. He also said he would lobby for reauthorization
of TANF, set to expire next year.
Ferrer wants to make health care more accessible to the poor
and to immigrants, to create better health care facilities,
and put nebulizers in every elementary and middle school for
emergency asthma attacks. Funding would come from both the city's
tobacco settlement to treat the uninsured and a reduction in
spending on jails. (According to Ferrer, the city is now planning
to spend $97 million a year to expand jails even with 8,000
He plans to determine the eligibility of all New Yorkers for
Medicaid and Food Stamps, remove barriers to public assistance
(language, cultural, learning impaired), and would not require
eligible people to reapply for state benefits when federal welfare
Ferrer has pledged to enroll eligible seniors in the Elderly
Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage program (EPIC) and, at the
same time, push for prescription coverage for all seniors. He
has spoken of enhancing New York City Department for the Aging
programs to reach homebound and needy seniors, and supports
social workers in the community based senior centers.
And he has promised to bring all these services to the outer
GREEN has spoken out on homelessness, blaming the crisis
on economics and a lack of affordable housing, and is in favor
of a non-punitive, more sympathetic approach to the problem,
including transitional and permanent housing, education and
training for "real jobs," child-care, transitional jobs, alcohol,
drug, and mental health treatment. He would not support time
limits on welfare for those with serious barriers to working.
He would press the state to expand contributions to mental
health services such as permanent supportive housing, substance
abuse treatment, family violence programs, and education and
job training programs that can support the formerly homeless.
Green released a report, Children at Risk, assessing the Administration
for Children's Services oversight of foster care, citing chilling
statistics on abuse and neglect within foster care placements,
and the need for further efforts to turn this around.
He suggests the city invest in safe affordable day care as
a way to reduce crime, in addition to increased gun control.
He would train workers in technology skills to turn around unemployment.
Green supports the One Step Program to remove steps from entrances
to businesses, making them more accessible to people with disabilities.
He vowed to inspect sidewalks and curbs within the first 100
days of his term to ensure they were wheelchair accessible.
And he would extend SCRIE (Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption)
to cover folks with disabilities who are on fixed incomes.
HEVESI would take a strong stand against bigotry and
hate-crimes, and particularly racial profiling and police brutality.
A very visible supporter is Abner Louima. Hevesi credits himself
with being instrumental in convincing the Swiss banks to agree
to a $1.65 billion settlement of Holocaust-related issues. During
his years in the state assembly, he is proud to have introduced
bills in support of health care and people with disabilities.
VALLONE also includes homelessness among his issues
and sees housing as the solution. He would oversee new construction
of affordable housing and housing for people with special needs,
suggesting the city needs an 225,000 additional units. He is
also a strong supporter of services for seniors, including meals,
the presence of social workers at community based senior centers,
tax credits for the elderly, and his housing proposals highlight
facilities aimed at seniors.
While maintaining that the welfare rolls will not go up under
his administration, he says he would encourage job training
through a transitional jobs bill, where welfare recipients work
for the city at "real" jobs for just under a year. After that
they would have the training to fill municipal government vacancies
or in private industry. He also credits himself with introducing
the bill in the City Council to end one-year limits on education
in Workfare; the time limit prevents most Workfare participants
from pursuing college-level education that requires more than
one year of study.
has proposed helping poor communities by developing main streets
and improving transportation.
outlined a plan to increase affordable housing which included
creating a coordinated inter-agency task force for housing.
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.