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

[Talks about his connections with the Village Independent Democrats] I think we share values like making sure the graduate students of NYU right here can organize like the [National Labor Relations Board] says they have a right to organize. I want to be the 108th mayor of New York City because I love this city, but I am not satisfied with this city. My wife and I have planted our flag and are raising our children because 95 years ago Nathan Green and Fannie Aaronburn fled czarist Russia and landed on the lower east side for freedom and opportunity. They worked their tails off, their children got good schooling, my mother was a teacher until I was born, my father worked his way through New York Law School. My other grandparents came from Poland...[He talks some more about his family]

I know who I represent, and I know where I came from. But I am not satisfied with this city, not when 40 percent of the children who enter 9th grade don't graduate on time. Not when so many minority wrongly but vividly fear the cops more than the culprits. Not when we have a mayor who spends so much time talking about building stadiums and skyboxes rather than building affordable homes for young couples. It's important that any candidate for mayor build on what Mayor Giuliani has accomplished, for example in crime suppression. [And then] to go way beyond him. [I wish we] had a mayor of New York City that didn't arrest the homeless on Thanksgiving, didn't try to shut museums because of exhibits he didn't much like, didn't violate civil liberties in 21 of 22 court decisions, and didn't run a government by enemies list, based on perverse math that you can add to the city by dividing it.

I am not running against Rudy Giuliani. I am running to go beyond Rudy Giuliani. I am starting this campaign in a very strong position because of a provably huge interborough, interracial coalition. Why? I have been a noble underdog and I've been ahead. I am starting in this strong position I think for two reasons. My record, and my vision. Look, I'm in government not to jump on bandwagons, but to build them. I did it as a public interest lawyer, I did it as an author, I did it as someone who would fight Buchanan and Buckley and Novak--I had to get tetanus shots that morning (a joke)--and survived to get to VID. But before you promote anybody to the top job, you better be sure they excel at that and did not slumber through their current jobs. Before any of us should sit in city hall, you better ask where have you stood on the big issues and what have you gotten done. And when I was told that we can't stop mob ownership of commercial carding, I went after the mob, revoked their licenses. My daughter got a death threat against me. And we got it done, in this instance with mayor Giuliani and we saved a half billion dollars a year for business and consumers. I was disgusted as a father and as a public official at billboards disproportionately in minority communities that seduced 13 year olds into smoking, if not dying and I filed a petition in 1990 against Joe Camel. Six years later the Federal Trade Commission ruled that it was illegal as unconscionable. Six months later, RJ Reynolds took the signs down around the country.

The thing perhaps that I'm most proud of, as an activist in government, who tries to expose problems, craft solutions, and enact them, is my record on police misconduct. Four years ago, before any of us heard the names Louima, Diallo, or Dorismond, I sued Mayor Giuliani because he was in deep denial about racial profiling and police misconduct that went unpunished. I won my lawsuit, I released an investigation showing a pattern of unpunished misconduct. In part as a result, along with [New York State Attorney General] Eliot Spitzer's investigation and the US attorney general's investigation, the rate that police with substantiated complaints are punished went from 25 percent, up to 75 percent. He won't admit it, but Mayor Giuliani saw the light, because he felt the heat of public officials like myself demanding that he do better. And after Patrick Dorismond was tragically killed, Mayor Giuliani compounded the tragedy by politically releasing--and illegally releasing--confidential files of the deceased man. I sued him in State Supreme Court and I won to put him under oath how he got the files, and why he did it. I'm proud to be with Peter [Vallone], the author of the bill we're all running under, where we get matching funds so nobody can buy the election, there's a floor under candidates because of public funds, and a ceiling which we can not exceed. They invented web sites for wonks like people in this audience [plugs his website, saying it shows the hundreds of things he's done].

If you want to elect a politician who is more cautious, and finger in the wind, vote for someone else. If you want someone who has been an outspoken fighter, for children, and families and tax payers, and gay couples, and minorities in the workforce, that's what I have done my whole life. It's not a slogan, it's my public life since school. Basically, all of that should get all of us to the finals. The four people who are running are very experienced and credible, as city-wide and borough wide officials. For two centuries from the Erie Canal to our port, we prospered as a manufacturing, bricks and mortar economy. Our asset now is not on brawn, it's on brains, it's not our port, it's that we're a portal to the new information economy. Despite the collapse of the dot coms, the speed at which information is distributed is not going to get any slower. We're at the crossroads of the information global economy. I have ideas on how using the new technology and bringing people together rather than dividing them, we can have smarter kids with smaller class sizes and my class size summit is getting there, smarter policing by tougher disciplining and more neighborhood policing. Smarter growth, where we talk more about housing and the Internet economy, than stadiums for private teams worth more than the people in this room put together. And finally, in race relations, there are 200 nationalities in this city. You can't elect somebody who looks like each of you. You can elect somebody who listens to each of you. The era when we have a chief executive of this city, who doesn't represent half the city, who won't even sit down with the elected and civic and religious leadership of half the city, is about to be over.

[Question about abolishing the Board of Education]

There are three things I want to do in 30 seconds. Shrink class size, and school size, it's the best way to make sure that if kids are in classes of 20 or fewer, they'll get it. Second, pay teachers a lot more for higher standards, and more professional development, and more computer sophistication. Third, change the structure of the Board of Education so that there is more mayoral control. I'll tell you, if this room could start a country, how many of you would say "Let's see, let's create a bureaucracy where six politicians appoint seven people, who may be buddies rather than educators, to govern the city's education.

There's no more important issues than public safety, and public education. Test scores have been flat for a decade, and excellent chancellors, like Harold Levy, or poor chancellors, can't do well enough because the system doesn't let them. We need all those three things.

[Question about no-tolerance policy towards illegal drugs, described as a "police state policy."]

For as along as I have looked at it, I have wanted to repeal the Rockefeller drug laws. Two states in a public vote did what Governer Pataki is starting to do, and we have to push him to do. That is, when you're dealing with a stupid kid first time non-violent drug offender, who's not selling but using from heroin to marijuana, treat him rather than incarcerate him. It's cheaper, more moral and it cuts costs. Those are three goals that are not liberal, and they're not conservative, they're smart.

[Question about making housing affordable not just throughout the city, but in areas where it is difficult to find a place, like Greenwich Village and the Upper West Side.]

I think all of the candidates happily are fighters for keeping rent stabilization and rent control, because [without them] then things will really get out of hand. But beyond that, because housing is not a discretionary item, it's an essential of life, we have a market economy, the reason rents are up for all of us--my daughter happily will now have to live with us forever is because we can't afford anything. The bad news is a lot of people want to be in New York city, especially in Manhattan, the jewels of the city are words like Greenwich Village, and the Upper East Side. First of all, I have said at the President Carter Habitat for Humanity symposium in the first month of office should I be mayor, I want to organize an affordable housing development summit and bring together the best developers and for-profit people, the best churches, the best not-for-profit organizations to accumulate a pool, a stream of revenues from Battery Park City, from the sale of the World Trade Center . . . from Washington--which it's hard to be optimistic about that now--how many New Yorkers are there in Bush's cabinet? Stumped me too. I can't guarantee that there will be more affordable housing in a particular venue, like Greenwich Village. Space is scarce. . . Mayor Giuliani for seven years has never used the words "class size" or "housing shortage." I'm delighted that in the eighth year he is trying to prettify his legacy by at least talking about what his successor will do.

[Question about what he would do differently than Giuliani to get hospitals to operate under a balanced budget]

I don't have a policy or opinion on it. . . . We need to stay away from for-profit hospitals. Hospitals will change in the next ten years as much as they have changed in the past hundred, because thank god with more preventive care, there are fewer beds being used, but it's amazing that the mayor hasn't treated hospitals with the same passion as the mayor of Detroit treats cars, and the mayor of Akron treats tires. It is, along with finance and real estate, the two major job providers and profit centers in our city, and they deserve a lot more attention from our next mayor.

[Question about free tuition at the City University of New York]

I was against ending remediation at the four year colleges as the mayor has proposed it because it made it harder for the newest arrivals to do what my grandparents did a century ago. CUNY of course can take people and process them by giving them a quality humanities education, and all these proposals have made it harder not easier. Now, there is a big budget implication to making tuition free. What I wouldn't do is price working people out, and the worst thing just about that I think the mayor has done is not that his welfare policies have required work for welfare, there's a consensus about that, but that he is requiring students who are going to school in one borough to work off their benefits in another borough, giving them the horrible Faustian choice of being educated or working. That is cruel, it's unnecessary, and it should be reversed.

[Question about giving millions of dollars to the police for the enforcement of quality of life violations]

Let me say that Bernard Kerik is the only police commissioner in the last five years that I haven't asked to resign. Howard Safir allowed the overtime to start ballooning from about 80 million dollars in 1995, to 250 million dollars, that is managerial neglect. I did ask him to resign about a year and a half ago, before Diallo. I think he incompetently ran the police department. We need as many or more patrol on our streets. That means, and here Alan Hevesi and I agree, we need to civilianize--you don't need cops in blue--handling medical records, preparing the fleet, we should civilianize desk jobs and move more police more onto the street. We can save money and increase safety.

[Question about big chain stores moving into the city, considering that some don't allow unions and don't allow people to shop with food stamps]

Well, I am a progressive pro-labor Democrat, but I don't tell a private company whether they're union or not. If they are going to deal a contract with the city, I'd like to figure out a law so they pay a greater living wage and they don't cut cost by cutting benefits. If a Home Depot wants to move in, I don't think they should be able to move in as a matter of right, which is the initial issue, but at the same time a lot of people like these stores and they go to New Jersey to shop there because there is a big choice and a low price. And so it should go through land use process to watch out for extra traffic and pollution. And if any store doesn't take food stamps or harasses people for shopping while black, that's something that the Human Rights Commission should go after. But the mayor can't tell a store not to come in, other than for quality of life reasons in a community.


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

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Poll Worker Applications

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

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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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