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?
Where Is Our Subway? Where Is
Our Erie Canal? It's Time To Build Again
By Mark Green
It was a terrific idea to get the critical mass
of four great planning schools together. Among the
questions you asked was how central will planning
be in my candidacy and mayoralty, and the answer
is simple: Absolutely central. I've watched an administration
have an economic development policy that has been
ad hoc, scatter shot. A minor league baseball stadium
there, a major league baseball stadium here. But
a stadium in every borough is really not economic
I love sports. But spending on sports stadiums
is nostalgia; it's not policy. We have a weakening
national and regional economy and a quickening global
economy, both with enormous implications for New
York City. Where is City Hall's plan to deal with
this dual challenge?
There is none! It's all responding to the political
needs of the moment. It is fine to say that New
York is number one. Triumphalism is politically
impressive. But whoever runs and wins and serves
has to think ahead. How much longer can we lunch
off the investments of our grandparents and not
start investing for our grandchildren?
2004 will be the 100th anniversary of when the
subway line began, and broke the economic barrier
north, from City Hall. New York broke out industrially
in the 1800s because of the investment of the Erie
Canal. Where is our subway? Where is our Erie Canal?
It's time to build again. And by building, I mean
first, building affordable housing, by finding an
income stream starting with the revenues thrown
off by the Battery Park City Authority. The mayor
in his eighth and last State of the City Address,
talked about the housing shortage and the housing
crisis. Talk about too little, too late. How many
times have you heard City Hall, in the last seven
years talk about a housing crisis, an overcrowded
classroom crisis? The problems that go unmentioned
will never be resolved. And that traces also to
a lack of planning on how we can exploit the changing
demographics and the changing technologies of this
extraordinary decade we have entered.
Among the central planning tools, of course, has
to be Compstat. If we now can track whether crime
by categories is up or down on Fordham Road, or
Utica Avenue, we have to do the same thing to find
the number of people moving from welfare to workfare
to permanent work. We have to track growth in economic
trends like Chicago does, so we can figure out whether
the next economic development dollar should go to
keeping the garment center; to keeping printing
at Hudson Street; to building up downtown Brooklyn;
or to expanding the Greenpoint manufacturing and
design center. In my mind, that requires a deputy
mayor for economic and community planning. That's
the new title, and within his or her office will
be an economic planning division which will use
the same sort of number-crunching analysis the police
department now uses.
The way to achieve more jobs in the next mayor's
term is to first invest in housing and second, invest
in essential transportation and transit infrastructure.
We absolutely need a Second Avenue subway, not a
"stubway," but a subway from the Bronx to Manhattan,
or lower Manhattan and into Brooklyn. We must invest
in a cross-harbor trade tunnel, so we can start
moving goods and products in and out of the city,
not by more truck rides a year, which is incredibly
taxing environmentally and economically. but to
start moving more of our materials by rail freight,
like other cities do.
We have to expand the Javits Center, probably south,
so the greatest city in America isn't fifteenth
on a list of convention centers. Unless we can figure
out how to pay for all this by working with the
Port Authority and exploiting and dedicating the
revenues from the sale and the taxes of the World
Trade Center, we won't grow as a city. And to do
that requires a level of planning I really haven't
In terms of economic development planning, we also
have to have not just a top-down, but a bottom-up
approach. So many mayors spend scarce economic development
dollars, either directly or in foregone taxes, based
on what big companies make big threats to go to
Jersey City. This does not make Verizon happy or
the real estate industry happy or Keyspan happy,
because they can't move. But if you're mobile, you
can threaten. The difficulty is, when capital is
mobile and cities are stationary, this is not a
two-way negotiation. Sometimes we have to mitigate
the fact that we're a high-cost city to keep anchor
industries like the New York Stock Exchange.
But we have to look at the bottom up. In neighborhoods
not as famous as mid and downtown Manhattan, there's
all kind of consumer demand that can uncap a worker's
skills, With a little public, private and not-for
⤳profit capital and innovation, this can spark
whole industries, small as they may be, like the
Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center where
there are hundreds of wood-working artisans.
We have to invest in human capital for the new
jobs. We have to talk about how to have a downtown
Brooklyn development corporation that can build
up downtown Brooklyn into the third central business
district. We have to figure out tech zones in and
around universities and medical institutions, where
there's a cluster of students and faculty, a small
Silicon Valley potential. With a little smart investment
we could have kept biotech here and perhaps been
home to the current or the next genome project.
You cannot talk about economic development without
talking about education. One company, no name, told
me they had 10 good jobs that they were making available
on the condition that the applicant has a high-school
degree, be drug-free, crime-free. They had a thousand
applicants; they ended up interviewing fifteen people.
This won't work.
The schools are broken; I'll fix them. I believe
in mayoral accountability for public education.
I believe in focusing on small class sizes, K-3
because those are the years kids learn or don't
learn their basic skills. I've created a class-size
coalition with some of the most prominent business,
labor, civic and educational leaders in the city
to come up with no-cost, or low-cost, or some-cost
This city had the will and the wallop to take a
hit and spend money with a tax-surcharge to fund
more cops and reduce crime by half. We have to have
the same level of innovation and energy to cut class
size, increase graduation rates. We have to go beyond
Giuliani and keep the good news of crime reduction,
but in the areas of economic development, educational
gain and police misconduct, do what they never talked
about or dreamed about.
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.