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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?
Peter Vallone's response to
questions about children's issues
1. Child Welfare:
Q: 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 as crucial and argues that ACS must be given
permanent status under the city charter, separate
from HRA. Will you ask Scoppetta to stay on to head
ACS? Do you support Intro 770, the city council
bill that would establish ACS as a permanent agency
under the city charter?
A: I believe that ACS is critical to the City and
thus the ACS Commissioner will play a central role
in my administration. Therefore, I would only appoint
a Commissioner of ACS that had my full support.
Commissioner Scoppetta is on my short list of contenders
for the job, but before I make a decision about
who would occupy that very important post, I would
first meet with experts, advocates and union members
to hear their feedback and ideas.
The City Council is currently considering Intro.
770. There are many concerns that have been raised
about making ACS a permanent agency including decisions
about which responsibilities, currently administered
by ACS, might be within HRA's purview. In addition,
we must ensure that concerns of the professional
staff, reporting requirement issues and other concerns
of the advocate community are considered and resolved
before the legislation could move forward.
2. Child Care:
Q: The city provides subsidized child care 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
child care. 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?
A: Currently there is an enormous unmet need for
subsidized childcare in New York City. As Speaker
of the New York City Council I have fought to expand
and improve childcare. In Fiscal Year 1999, I was
successful in increasing the budget for subsidized
care by $13 million, and in fiscal year 2001, the
Council allocated $25 million in capital funds for
childcare facilities. The latest budget passed by
the City Council includes a new New York City Child
Care tax credit that will help parents meet the
costs of childcare. This tax credit amounts to 40%
of the New York State childcare credit, and it will
provide hundreds of dollars of financial assistance
for families with child care expenses.
As Mayor, I will work to increase the capacity
of both center-based and informal care slots, as
those options seem most workable for families.
We must make sure that all childcare provided is
of the highest quality. That means putting funding
into the centers and informal care networks, and
merely adding slots. We also need to educate parents
about their options so they can make the best choice
for their children. Given that HRA has dramatically
reduced its caseload in recent years, there are
many children who are no longer eligible for childcare
subsidizes through HRA, but who still need care.
We must work to make sure that these children and
their families are enrolled in other programs for
which they are eligible. The City must allocate
resources into programs where the demand is high
and where families meet eligibility in order to
ensure that childcare is provided to families in
3. Juvenile Justice:
Q: As part of its campaign to improve the city's
quality of life, the Giuliani administration increased
the number of youth officers at each police precinct
and increased the number of juvenile reports issued
by police substantially - both for misdemeanors
and less serious offences. In 1993, police issued
29,100 juvenile reports. In 1997, the number was
104,000. What will become of the Giuliani administration's
quality of life policing practices, especially in
the area of juvenile crime? Will your administration
reverse or continue the administration's juvenile
A: Recently, it has been reported that juvenile
crime is on the rise. As a City we need to address
this problem, both by increasing prevention and
by giving youth who get into trouble, the services
and attention they need. In the early 1990's, then
Mayor David Dinkins and I initiated the Safe Streets,
Safe City program to combat New York City's high
crime rate. The program used a dedicated tax to
provide almost $1.7 billion over 5 years to expand
the NYPD and to fund a variety of law enforcement-related
and youth-centered services and programs. The youth
components of the program sought to address and
prevent youth crime, drug use and delinquency. I
believe we would be more successful if we attacked
juvenile crime through preventative measures and
not solely by punishment. It is our obligation to
help youth offenders get back on the right track.
This is not done by sending them to jail for long
periods of time or by putting them in adult facilities,
but instead by offering them a means of rehabilitation,
opportunity and hope. This means providing juveniles
with drug treatment, violence management and education
where needed to help get them back on track.
4. Welfare Reform I:
Q: Since April 1996 the number of welfare recipients
in New York City has fallen dramatically, from 1,022,000
to 512,031. 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 components?
A: During the current administration, New York
City has implemented a welfare program that has
focused largely on reducing caseload by uncovering
welfare fraud and pushing individuals to find work.
They have been successful at reducing caseloads.
However, recent indicators such as the record high
level of homelessness and hunger, demonstrate that
even though the welfare caseload number may be down,
there are still people who are in dire need of assistance.
While reducing and preventing fraud is important,
we must remember that reducing poverty should be
the true goal of welfare policy. We must focus our
efforts on attacking poverty, not individuals or
I believe that individuals who can work should
work. However, I also believe that people in the
welfare-to-work system need actual assistance and
job-skill building so that they can break the cycle
of dependence. That's why I passed a Transitional
Jobs law, which was heralded by the New York Times
for its creative approach to welfare reform. Now
that welfare centers have been converted into job
centers, they are responsible for detecting fraud,
verifying eligibility, and determining compliance
with programs. However, we cannot allow that these
functions be the only focus of these job centers.
Our job centers need to work better with individuals
and families to determine what barriers they may
have to finding and retaining employment and then
find solutions to those barriers. I believe that
job readiness development is the key to a welfare
policy that results in self-sufficiency, and therefore
must be central to the mandate of the job centers.
Skills development is especially crucial when trying
to find work for those who are hard to employ or
who have limited education and skills. We need to
strike a balance between job placement and skills
development needed for successful, long-term employment.
5. Welfare Reform II:
Q: 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
bureaucratic operation.Will you have a system for
delivering tens of thousands of new non-cash benefits
in place on December 3'st? 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?
A: The New York State Constitution requires us
to provide for the poor and needy, and therefore
the State is setting up the Safety Net Assistance-Non
Cash program to provide non-cash benefits to people
who become ineligible for welfare. As people begin
to reach the five-year federal lifetime limit for
welfare benefits, the City faces an enormous challenge,
especially because the people who are still receiving
welfare benefits require more intensive training
and support services. The City will be called upon
to implement the program, and we must make sure
this is done fairly. Under my leadership as Speaker,
the City Council has actively conducted oversight
of HRA and its policies in attempt to make sure
that a satisfactory program is created. In fact,
it was during one of our hearings that the Administration
made public its plan to require a new application
process for the Safety Net Program, a policy with
which I disagree. I am committed to making sure
the transition from the old program to new be seamless
and that applicants are automatically transferred
without having to reapply. While we all want to
encourage people to leave public assistance and
become self sufficient, we cannot allow children
to go hungry because of confusion in the switchover
process. During the remaining months in my tenure
as Speaker, I will work diligently to ensure that
on December 31, 2001 a system is in place to deliver
benefits to those in need. I will make sure that
that the five-year federal limit on benefits does
not leave people in need without a safety net.
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.