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?


Turning Away From The Legacy Of Retarding Growth

By Henry Hewes
(Republican candidate)

I'm a graduate of Hunter School of Urban Planning. I'm also a Republican. Now those two things are not often easy to put together. I've had a career in urban planning involving economic development planning. I ran for mayor of New York in 1989. I ran for the U.S. Senate.

I would like to talk a little bit about the future of New York City. Planners too often have become agents to restrict the development of the city. And if we look out and see what planners have been doing over the last 20 years it's been planning for how to retard the efforts of developers. New York City, however, is a growing city. In New York City we currently have 250,000 families living more than one family to an apartment. In New York City, the average family occupies only 60 percent of the space that the average family does in the United States of America. We have a housing crisis in New York City, which is the prime factor in preventing us from attracting new industry. When companies think about relocating in New York City, the thing that is most likely to discourage them is that there is not housing in this city at a level or a type that is similar to what can be gotten in other jurisdictions.

We have a school system in New York City which is literally crumbling. The physical plant is an absolute disgrace.

We have to now make a decision in the city of New York as to whether we are a backward looking city that is gong to be protecting peoples' backyards from shadow, which is going to be protecting old neighborhoods, which is going to be protecting old industrial jobs which have pretty much become obsolete in the city, or whether we are going to become a city that is looking toward our future.

New York is the capital of the world. Everywhere in the world people want to come here. We will continue to be the magnet to the world whether we are talking about bright young people to work on the internet or whether we're talking about people coming here from Ecuador to work in a restaurant. We are a city which is fated to grow, and as planners, the challenge is to turn away from the legacy of retarding growth and to figure out how to make this city grow in a workable way.

Some of the other candidates here today have talked about their devotion to retaining manufacturing jobs. I have been fighting in this city for 20 years to get rid of manufacturing jobs. Manufacturing jobs are basically low paying jobs, and quite frankly, most of them are done better in places where they have workforces that can earn a living wage on a lower wage. In the city of New York we should not be thinking of our future in terms of manufacturing. What we need to do in this city is to replace the industrial zones of the city with areas in which we can build housing and commercial. That is the future of the city.

If you talk to the officials and they talk about schools they talk about goals in our public schools that relate to getting people GED diplomas, high school diplomas. That's not enough. We should bethinking about every one of our students in the public schools being prepared to go on after high school. Those are the kinds of goals that we have to have.

We're talking about maybe over 20 years we're going to build the Second Avenue subway. It's not enough. We have more people riding the subway more times every day We have to go out and talk about a wholesale expansion off our entire mass transit system. As planners, we have to embrace this and turn to the idea that it is our responsibility to make it possible for this city to grow. It's our responsibility as planners to make sure that people have places to live.

A few months ago, there was a New York City Planning Commission hearing on Joe Rose's new proposal for changing the bulk regulation [to set limits on building size and reform the zoning code]. I testified against it for two reasons. First of all, the idea of height limits in New York is basically against the city of New York. We are a city of soaring skyscrapers. We are a city of imagination. We are a city of genius and a city of growth. To be running around and saying you can't do this, you can't do that that's 100 percent against New York.

The other reason I testified against it is that the entire political capital of the City Planning Commission was being used up to stop people from building tall buildings and to make the processing period for new construction shorter. Not a word in there on what you're going to do in the outer boroughs, to increase housing opportunities. Not a word in there about rezoning unused manufacturing areas Not a word for upzoning areas, allowing people to build more bulk in areas where it's appropriate.

That's the kind of thinking and the kind of future that is necessary in New York if we're going to accommodate the needs of the citizens. Individuals and families out there are cheated out of a decent life because the zoning resolution and planning restrictions in the city prevent the construction of the housing necessary for them to live. Those are our responsibility, and that is the constituency that we should be serving. I know that there are conflicts because there are people out there who have a beautiful brownstone in the East 50s which gets the sun in the afternoon and I'm sure they're going to be very upset if there's a shadow that goes across their garden in the afternoon. We cannot, however, as planners be captured by those who would resist change. We must in fact be in the forefront of those who would work with the market to make change possible.

The city of New York needs planners with vision, planners who see where New York City should be 10, 15, 20 years from now and are willing to take political risks to make that growth possible in a way that protects the neighborhoods in the city and enhances the kind of life that the average citizen can live. If I'm elected mayor, what I will bring to the city of New York and bring to the planning process is a commitment to the growth of the city.


Is there a limit to how much the city can grow?

When people stop coming to the city of New York, when we have more people who are leaving than are coming then we can talk about stopping growth. We can't put barriers up around the city and say we're not going to allow anyone to come here. To an extent, we have adopted an antigrowth policy by restricting the amount of development, and we've said, if poor people don't have housing, they won't come. Unfortunately, they come anyway.

The density in the streets and the traffic is going to have to increase. That's what happens when a city grows.

As a Republican, what is your position on giving tax breaks and other subsidies to companies to encourage them to stay in New York?

I am absolutely opposed to all subsidies to corporations to stay in the city of New York. We are the best city in the world. If the New York Stock Exchange wants to go somewhere else and become the Jersey City Stock Exchange we'll create a new stock exchange here and we'll beat their pants off.

Do you support the building of a new rail freight tunnel?

Anybody who thinks it's a great idea for New York City to become a rail freight center doesn't know the same city that I know. One of the candidates talked about replacing trucks with rail freight in the city of New York. We only need trucks here to deliver stuff to the stores that sell it to us. The demand for rail freight for our industries is minimal. I actually oppose the rail freight tunnel. I would rather have those funds put into other kinds of transportation. I think for New York to think of becoming a rail freight hub is a wrong direction and an uneconomic direction for the city to go. I believe we should be moving out of the port business and out of the rail freight business.

What is your position on the Second Avenue Subway?

We have to expand the subway system and keep expanding the subway system. It should start in the Bronx, and it should end in the outer boroughs. But one of the things we have to do in the City of New York is get control of our costs. When they talk about what it's going to cost to build the Second Avenue Subway it's a joke, As mayor one of the most critical things necessary is to reduce the cost of doing business. We have more employees, higher contracting costs. If we're going to build the Second Avenue subway it's going to have to be cheaper than four and five billion dollars.

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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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