The Race for Mayor

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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?


Mark Green

[Question: What would your approach be as mayor to meet the needs of the city's large and growing Latino population?]

When I was first asked a version of this question in the very first debate by Gabe Pressman, I said my goals were to shrink class size so that our kids , K through three, can learn and build not more stadiums but more housing which our city so desperately needs. But to understand what I would do as 108th Mayor, you should know where I've been. My bond is my history. Thirty- one years ago I had brown hair and I was the editor of a leading civil rights, civil liberties law review in America. So before I knew I was running for this office-- I'm precocious, but not that precocious-- when I was a young lawyer in formation, I ran a human rights law review arguing against the death penalty because it didn't deter, it was unappealable, it was a mistake, and it discriminated by race under its application. A year ago I did a study called Justice Denied because this state and city pays legal aid lawyers as much in the year 2001 per hour as we paid in 1985 per hour. Guess what, there aren't enough lawyers representing young, mostly women with children, in the family court because lawyers aren't available.

I was the person who pushed and insisted and got the city council to approve the four to one match which has opened up this campaign, so that on the Democratic side for sure, merit, not money, will be the decisive factor. Thousands of more people are participating.

Before any of us heard the names Louima and Diallo four and a half years ago, I sued Mayor Giuliani to get the files of abusive and unpunished cops. Got the files, exposed a pattern of the NYPD protecting rather than punishing abusive officers and helped triple the rate of discipline in the police department. And so when I argue that I have been a fighter on your side against bullies and big shots and interests, and will be a fighter on your side against bullies, big shots and interests, it's not a slogan, that's been my life, and that's why I think I would be the best mayor for all of New York and for the Puerto Rican and Latino community in New York.

[Question: A major issue facing Latinos across the country is under-representation, especially when it comes to decision making levels, and New York City is no exception. How would you specifically address this issue? What are your thoughts about city affirmative action programs?]

It's a good question because we have to see what each of us have done to predict what each of us will do. I am a strong advocate of affirmative action to undo the discrimination of the past. Let me just say that when I was the Consumer Affairs Commissioner, a quarter of my staff was Latino, a quarter of my staff was African-Caribbean-American, and the very first set of issues I worked on with the 106th mayor, David Dinkins, who I am proud is supporting me in this campaign, was called the Poor Pay More, how low income communities of color paid more for the same exact market basket of food, auto insurance, financial services. Bad enough when there's willful discrimination in the private market, when there is de facto discrimination when you buy goods. We try to encourage more Pathmarks into the city and crack down on stores which overcharge people because of the communities they live in.

As public advocate and now as a candidate, I have a staff that is a fifth to a third Latino. In a city with 200 nationalities, ethnicities, religions and races, a city where there is no majority, 40 percent of us were born abroad, it is crazy to exclude the talents of big chunks of the city. That's what's happened.

The era when we have a mayor who ignores half the city, won't go to half the city, won't sit down with the elected and religious leadership of half the city, is going to end in six months when I'm mayor.

Now let me give you just one concrete example. The fire department. I have nothing against white men, as you can see. But other cities like Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia, which have roughly our minority/majority populations, have 40 and 50 percent of their fire departments people of color. In New York City, seven percent of the fire department are people of color, 93 percent are white men. That is intolerable in a city that 63 percent are non-white and so I propose to Virginia Fields, our borough president, [to create] two fire services high schools so we can capture students at an early age when they are excited about their career, get them on a career path of fire service.

We cheat tax payers and we cheat a city of immigrants built by immigrants if we don't make our city more inviting to our new immigrants.

[Question: What role did you personally play, how did you respond, not just after serious incidents like the Anthony Baez police brutality case, but the infamous Seinfeld and Law and Order episodes on the Puerto Rican Day Parade and the David Letterman insulting remarks about the Colombians?]

I don't want to fight hypothetical, but I sure as hell hope I would appoint men and women who wouldn't engage in such casual verbal stereotyping and discrimination. But if an otherwise good person made a stupid remark , I would publicly chastise him because they work for me and then if their work product was still good, we'd move ahead.

I rarely comment, whether it's Seinfeld or The Sopranos, about artistic works that could be or are offensive. I'd like to focus on offensive deeds, more than offensive artistic words. So when Mayor Giuliani tried to arrest the homeless on Thanksgiving, tried to change the city charters, when he denied that there was a level of racial profiling, police misconduct that was tearing apart cops and communities of color, and when he tried to shut a great cultural institution because he didn't like a particular exhibit, which he never saw by the way, more often than not, let's be factual, I was the one Democrat who again and again and again and again stood up, talked back, organized the coalition, and defeated him when it counted.

I will try to be sensitive to offensive images in the artistic media, but I really want to focus as public advocate and mayor on the policies that can better integrate communities of color in our city and to our culture and to our economy, and to our government.

[Question: What is your campaign strategy for reaching Latino voters?]

I want to focus on three issues, that all New Yorkers, especially the Latino community , I hope will appreciate. First, the school system is broken and I want to fix it. To simply argue the Board of Ed should stay intact or the way to cure the bureaucracy is to expand its size won't work. Test scores have been flat and if we don't teach basic literacy and numeracy skills to our young children, the majority of whom, of course, are kids of color, the city won't make it and neither will the Latino community. That's step one. How do you do that? I created a class size coalition of the leading business, labor, civic, and parents to figure out the will and the wallet to shrink class size so that by the time I'm done as mayor, no child will be in a class larger than twenty, K through three, period. And second there is a big deal to negotiate now with our teachers and if Mayor Giuliani won't do it, I will. And it's to pay more for more professional development during the school day. All these teachers really want, and require more performance. Going to lower performing schools and spending more time on week-end and in the summers as we have asked the principals we should ask similarly of teachers.

Second, on economic development, New York City is it for technology and it was at The New School that I held a community entrepreneurial development session four months ago with some of the leading neighborhood advocates. I don't want to just give big tax breaks to big companies who threaten to leave so that so much of our scarce dollars go to mid and down-town Manhattan. Every community has untapped demand and skills that we grow from the bottom up as Senator Kennedy tried to do in Bedford Stuyvesant so many years ago. None of this would work without the broadest possible coalition, and so the way to reach the Latin-American community is that I don't want to run based on any one race, or one zip-code, or one group. We just tried that. I am very proud that when New York 1 two months ago analyzed this campaign and they reported independently that I have the broadest, interracial interethnic, multi-borough coalition of any candidate. From Mayor Dinkins to Fernando Matteo to 100 Latinos in Law Enforcement, to 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, to 80 Pentecostal ministers in the South Bronx, part of the Latin-American clergy association. That's the coalition I need to win, and that's the kind of coalition, I need to govern for the Latino community especially.

My Street Address:

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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
After printing and filling out the voter registration form, please send them by mail to:

Board of Elections
32 Broadway, 7th Floor
New York, NY

You will need Acrobat Reader to view these forms.

Poll Worker Applications

After completing the forms, please send them to the address on the form.

You will need Acrobat Reader to view these forms.

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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