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Basic Training for Council Recruits... How They Stack up
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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?
Turning Away From The Legacy
Of Retarding Growth
By Henry Hewes
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.