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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?
Let me tell you the reason why I am running, and
its really rooted in a lot of what I have been
trying to do in the Bronx over the last 14 years as
borough president. You might recall the circumstances
under which I became borough president. [recounts dilapidated
conditions of the Bronx, including burned-out buildings
with decals that made it look as if there were windows
with window shades and flower pots]
There was a great strength in communities. In neighborhoods.
People who had stuck it out through the toughest of
times. People who still had a strong vision for the
kind of neighborhood they wanted to live in, they wanted
their children to grow up in, that they wanted to help
build. But no one to reach to them and meet them half
way to make that happen. Let me fast forward 14 years.
64,000 units of housing. Some home ownership, 2 and
3 family homes. Those apartment buildings with the pictures
of the window shades and flower pots. Real windows,
real window shades. Some real flower pots, and above
all real people living on the inside. 64,000 of them.
But let me put a human face in front of them. Thats
64,000 families. Sometimes theyre first-time homeowners.
Others who live in the apartment buildings were previously
homeless as families. Low income, not having reliable
heat and hot water in the wintertime. What does it mean
to them? Well heat and hot water in the wintertime is
one of the things. Another one is a decent place for
the family to gather around the dinner table. A quiet
place for a child to do homework. They became the building
blocks of a stable family life, a stable neighborhood,
and a stable community. 34,000 new jobs and I guarantee
Goldman Sachs did not build an office in the Bronx.
These were hard fought jobs. Service, manufacturing,
in retail, all kinds of jobs. What does it mean to those
34,000 people? Well, for the first time in many of their
lives theyre breadwinners. Theyre paying
the rent, paying the phone bills, putting groceries
on the table, and sending their kids to school.
The classrooms in new schools, Internet connections
in the libraries, high speed internet connections, validates
for me a belief in what every neighborhood in New York
should be. A place where New Yorkers have a reason to
expect they are entitled to live in a decent and affordable
place. To have a good school, no, an excellent school
in their neighborhood to which to send their kids. And
I mean an excellent public school. The right to a livelihood
to support themselves and their families, And training
to get a job if that is what they need. A safe street
on which to live, and in the context of that safety
the right to expect a relationship with the police department
that is founded not on fear, not on mistrust, but on
mutual cooperation. A relationship that at the end of
the day will keep everybody safer. A place to go when
they get sick, someone to see to keep them well. And
not only to keep them healthy in the broad sense, but
not to deny them a prescription or procedure because
they have some other contract, with some other institution,
that may limit them, and they receive city or state
Those are the basic things that New Yorkers need.
Now, why do I feel passionately about it? [He talks
about growing up in Hunts Point, without heat
and hot water, but still he got an excellent education)
I know what it is to have an opportunity. I know what
opportunity gives you. It is hope. My opportunity to
get a piece of the American dream, to do whatever I
wanted to do. And my choice was to enter the public
service, and try to make my own contribution. I know
what it means to children who are in a school that works.
I know what that means to their parents. I have been
inside more classrooms over the course of my life than
I can remember. And you know when something good is
happening in their neighborhoods and in that classroom
because you can see hope and expectation reflected back
at you in the eyes of those children. The moment when
someone who aspires to leadership in this city says
"those folks who aspire to live in an affordable
and decent place are my neighbors, those 1.1 million
children are my children, the one who goes and seeks
help to keep herself well and in good health is my sister,
or my wife, or my mother." Thats the moment
when we start looking at the rest of New York the way
it should be looked at. As a community of small neighborhoods
that are inexorably linked with each other.
[Question about public schools, the City University
of New York, and teacher salaries]
It is a big and complex issue. For me the heart
of the matter is teaching and learning. The magic happens
in the classroom, or it doesnt. What goes on in
that classroom is important
It should not take
three or more years to rid the system of an incompetent
or unfit teacher. That brings down the profession. We
need to elevate the profession. And we need to reform
due process. I believe in due process and I believe
that every professional, especially teachers, need protection
from arbitrary and capricious decisions. That having
been said, we must reform due process. Second, to elevate
the profession, to do the job we need to do for children
year round, and during the dayto give children
what children in Westchester, Rockland, Putnam and Orange,
Nassau and Suffolk expect, we need to make this a year
round profession. Teach and learn. Teach, as well as
have a systematic, continuing professional development
that is ongoing instead of one day here, one day there.
That makes no sense and it is not working. Third, in
consideration of the first two, give the teachers a
thirty percent raise.
[Question on death penalty:]
My stand on it since 1996 when Officer Kevin Gillespie
was shot execution style as he got out of his car, I
decided to change my long standing opposition across
the board to the death penalty. That officer did not
deserve to die but there is more than that. The shooter
his gun and fired into a crowd of civilians. Then ran.
My problem with the death penalty had always been mistaken
identity, fairness and applicability. In that case there
was no issue of mistaken identity. In that case, the
crime was not only completely heinous but it also involved
a serious injury to two uninvolved civilians. Four were
[Question about whether he supports "equal access
to civil union." He answers simply "yes."]
[Question about whether he would favor landmarking
the meatpacking district. He says he is not familiar
with the issue]
[Question about surveillance cameras in parks, and
about Washington Square Park]
The arch is an important landmark in the city.
Parks generally in the city get short shrift. I am talking
about Washington Square Park, I am talking about Echo
Park in the Bronx. There are a whole lot of parks that
are just not being treated well and its a bad
policy over the course of time to only put in money
to build new ones, and not to maintain the ones we have.
Surveillance cameras, I have never been hot on.
was a Howard Safir innovation, much like many of his
innovations, lets just say I did not think he
was the greatest manager the police department ever
[Question about whether he would work to reverse the
one way toll on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge]
There are two bridges in this city that I think
it is disgraceful that they have tolls on at all. The
Verrazano-Narrows, and the one going into Far Rockaway.
[Question about workfare]
The way the city abuses workfare and those who
are in it is the real problem. If you had a program
that was linked to legitimate training, that moved people
resolutely into the world of work and into economic
independence, with a daycare component, because women
with children are finding it next to impossible to find
licensed and regulated and decent and affordable, Im
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.