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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?
Alan Hevesi's answers to questions
about children's issues
1. Child Welfare:
Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta has indicated
that he would like to continue as head of the Administration
for Children's Services - but only if he has the
trust and support of the new mayor that he currently
enjoys. He views his cabinet-level access to the
mayor - which includes participation in the mayor's
daily 8:00 a.m. meeting - as crucial and argues
that ACS must be given permanent status under the
city charter, separate from HRA.
Q: Will you ask Scoppetta to stay on to head
Q: Do you support Intro 770, the city council
bill that would establish ACS as a permanent agency
under the city charter?
Nick Scoppetta has made enormous strides in improving
the lives of at-risk children in New York City.
His dedication and know-how have enabled him to
implement changes in the child welfare system that
will last well beyond his tenure. Nick has earned
the respect of all the stakeholders in the field
of child welfare and has worked hard to make reforming
the child welfare system a cooperative effort.
My office has a longstanding, positive working
relationship with Nick. We have worked together
-sometimes publicly and sometimes behind the scene
- to improve the child welfare system. For example,
he endorsed the report of the Comptroller's Task
Force on Foster Care Outcomes and Performance Standards,
which served as the basis for ACS' improved evaluation
system. Nick committed himself to working with my
office by designating Joe Cardieri, ACS1 General
Counsel, co-chair of the Comptroller's Task Force
on Adoption Options. We have been working together
with ACS to facilitate open adoptions when appropriate.
And, we had a conference on practice issues in July
1999 and have drafted legislation to address ambiguities
in the current law. While we clearly have worked
closely together, I am not going to make any personnel
decisions before I am elected.
I believe that the creation of ACS as a separate
agency has enhanced Nick Scoppetta's ability to
implement reforms. Its separate status reflects
the importance we place on its mission of keeping
children safe. I do not believe that returning ACS
to the Human Resource Administration would benefit
the child welfare system or the children and families
it serves. When elected Mayor, I will appoint a
Deputy Mayor for Children and Families that would
be charged with developing a comprehensive children's
policy for the City of New York. This Deputy Mayor
would coordinate the work of all public agencies
that are presently involved in early care and education
and children's services across the city.
The city provides subsidized childcare for roughly
100,000 low-income children. Many people say a crisis
in supply remains, even though there has been a
significant expansion of funding: there are still
38,000 children on the city's waiting list and 38,000
children in temporary, informal, care subsidized
by HRA's Office of Employment Services. There are
also tens of thousands of low-income children in
families that earn too much to qualify for child
care subsidies and too little to pay for adequate
Q: Will your administration increase capacity
in regulated care and/or in informal care? Do you
envision changing the current configuration of slots
among the different types of care?
Knowing what we do about the importance of early
childhood development, I believe strongly that childcare,
especially for pre-school children, must be of the
highest quality. I have long been an advocate for
increasing funding for childcare and continue to
believe that we should devote more resources to
our youngest children. I would like to see more
children in regulated child care settings and would
encourage the development of more center-based programs
and supervised family day care programs, possibly
through family day care networks. I believe that
informal care is a last resort and meaningful alternatives
should be available to working families. I find
it especially problematic that the current system
differentiates between children of working mothers
and those of public assistance recipients--with
HRA encouraging public assistance recipients toward
the less costly informal care.
Funding for childcare should be increased both
in terms of operating and capital expenditures.
If we are to provide access to quality childcare
for low-income families, many more centers must
be established. We need to be creative in accessing
funds from a variety of sources to maximize opportunities
for the City's children. For example, as Comptroller,
I started an innovative program that used the City's
pension funds to finance the construction of new
Not only would I like to see an increase in the
participation of eligible children in quality child
care programs, but I would also like to expand the
eligibility standards to reflect the economic realities
of life in New York City. However, simply broadening
the eligible population without a substantial increase
in the number of day care slots would not benefit
New York City children and families.
Welfare Reform I:
Since April 1996 the number of welfare recipients
in New York City has fallen dramatically, from 1,022,000
Q: In 1998, the Giuliani administration began
converting welfare offices into Job Centers, which
incorporate job readiness activities into the application
for welfare benefits. What will become of the Job
Centers under your administration and the policies
they enforce such as the fraud detection initiatives
and the penalties for non-compliance with program
The goal of public assistance is to keep the welfare
rolls low not only with good statistics but by actually
making people self-sufficient. We need to emphasize
job training, education, and finding meaningful,
long-term employment for welfare recipients. Workfare
should be a temporary job-training program that
moves people from welfare to work and provides real
job skills and education.
As mayor, I will work to ensure that as people
move off welfare, we provide the training and education
needed to secure long-term, decent paying jobs.
One initiative I have proposed is the creation of
200 storefront computer training centers, which
would allow New Yorkers without an extensive educational
background to learn basic computer skills, and would
provide access to the Internet for activities like
job searches and resume writing.
Welfare Reform II:
On Dec. 31, 2001, tens of thousands of New Yorkers
will reach the five year lifetime limit on federal
welfare benefits. There is not an agreement on the
number of people who will actually reach the limit
that day. Jason Turner estimates the number to be
38,000 people; the Independent Budget Office, using
state figures, estimates it to be 100,000. The program
that will replace TANF for those recipients, the
state's Safety Net program, appears to require an
increased investment of city funds and a substantial
Q: Will you have a system for delivering tens
of thousands of new non-cash benefits in place on
December 31st? Will you automatically enroll welfare
leavers in the Safety Net program or enact the Giuliani
administration's plan to encourage them to move
toward self-sufficiency by requiring them to reapply
for Safety Net benefits?
The fact that HRA does not know for certain how
many TANF recipients are about to reach the five-year
federal time limit is very problematic. How can
HRA move its clients toward self-sufficiency without
knowing who they are, let alone the services they
Due to the loss of Federal TANF funds, the City
will need to substantial increase the amount of
money we put toward public assistance. However,
it is unclear how big a City operation this will
require. A goal of any effective welfare policy,
regardless of the basis for the client eligibility
- either as TANF recipients or Safety Net recipients
- would focus on the need of each individual client.
Therefore, proper assessments, access to education
and training programs, and work experience are all
important elements to both the TANF and Safety Net
Welfare recipients should be moved toward self-sufficiency
but we should treat people with dignity. Part of
the process of the safety net phase should be considering
each case individually to make sure people have
been provided with the necessary tools to move towards
Back to NYC Issues
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.