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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?
[Question: What would your approach be as mayor
to meet the needs of the city's large and growing
It's quite something to sit next to the comptroller,
the public advocate and a borough president and
think about this wonderful city that we all live
in. I think the best city in the world. Certainly,
each of them has contributed a great deal. The question
is, they are proposing that they will do the same
only better, and I wonder whether or not it would
be fruitful to think about the things we are not
satisfied with in this city. For instance the minimum
wage at the moment that no one can live on unless
they can work eighty hours a week. How about a living
wage bill, passing that. Something like sixteen
cities in the country have already passed a living
wage bills and we're struggling in New York to get
it passed despite the fact that the comptroller
and public advocate are sitting here. What about
the schools and housing? Could we possibly solve
both problems in one fell swoop. I think we could.
We have desperate need for affordable housing,
we have a thousand public schools within New York
City, every single one has air rights over them.
Trinity, the fanciest private school on west side,
built in its air rights and it seems to be doing
alright. How about building affordable housing in
the air rights over the thousand schools that we
have in New York City right now. And lets do something
about the teacher problem, we can't get teachers
in our schools, that's why we're in a shortage of
them. Salaries are too low, they don't begin to
compare with salaries outside the city.
A new young teacher comes into New York, even if
they could live on the salary, where will they live?
A studio in Manhattan now goes for $2 thousand a
month, lets guarantee them a place to live in that
affordable housing we build over the schools. That's
another possible solution.
In this city, the Latino community is the community
that suffers the most in asthma rates, that suffers
the most from air pollution, yet the city does almost
nothing about it. Much of the air pollution problem
in the city has to do with diesel fuel in busses,
diesel fuel spewing garbage trucks, diesel fuel
spewing school busses. All of that could be remedied
by replacing our city owned transportation system
with CNG, that is Clean Natural Gas Engines. Its
been proposed for ten years and it hasn't been done.
That's the fault of the system as it stands. We
need a change in the system. There are any number
of other proposals that I'll make, but I think I'll
wait until the rest of the questions are asked.
[Question: A major issue facing Latinos across
the country is under-representation, especially
when it comes to decision making levels, and New
York City is no exception. How would you specifically
address this issue? What are your thoughts about
city affirmative action programs ?]
The Green Party has a saying, " Vote Green for
change." I'd like to add another dimension, a change
in who is elected to represent us. We have planning
boards, we have community boards, and advisory boards.
Everyone of those boards is more or less powerless
because they are all volunteers. I would like to
propose that all those boards become elected boards
which would mean that a local community would be
voting for their community board representative
and that community could vote for their solid waste
advisory board representatives. They would be part
time jobs and they would be paying part time jobs.
All of us know teachers that are working two jobs
to pay the rent, all of us know many people in the
city that are working two jobs just to stay in the
city. If we went to part time elected representation,
people would get the training to move on to higher
levels and they will be able to do the volunteer
service that right now can only be done by those
who can afford to volunteer. It would be a wonderful
change and a change in representation.
I asked a friend of mine who teaches bilingual
science in a high school, what she would do about
increasing representation, and she said most people
she knew have no clue about what they should do
to become a politician. They need to start some
place and I think one of the places they could start
would be, start with planning boards, community
boards, advisory boards that are elected by communities
and part time jobs that are paid. Thank you.
[Question: What role did you personally play,
how did you respond, not just after serious incidents
like the Anthony Baez police brutality case, but
the infamous Seinfeld and Law and Order episodes
on the Puerto Rican Day Parade and the David Letterman
insulting remarks about the Columbians?]
I don't have a public office to speak out from,
and I'm really, really happy to sit at a table with
people who are using their public office that way,
but I do belong to a party, a party which is not
just a state party, or a national party, but it's
a world party. We just had our first world congress
in Australia on Easter weekend, that I was supposed
to be the US delegate to it, and I want to tell
you there is a world summit program that includes
as a key value, diversity. That means simply that
as a party we do not tolerate any sort of bigotry,
it is built into our platform. I am not running
simply as Julia Willebrand, I want to be the Mayor
of New York, but I am running on a platform, I am
running on ten key values, and I am running on something
that no other party in this country can say, that
they have a platform that the candidates actually
run on. This candidate is running on something you
can see in writing. I don't have a public office
to speak from, but I do have a party to speak from
and we are absolutely, utterly opposed to any sort
of bigotry and it is included in our key values.
[Question: What is your campaign strategy for
reaching Latino voters? ]
I plan on reaching Latino electorate by changing
the way we view things. Right now, in this city,
corporate welfare has number one priority on just
about everybody's list. I didn't hear a single mayoral
candidate objecting to the $1 billion corporate
welfare bonus that we are giving the stock exchange
by building them a new exchange floor. A billion
dollars is a thousand million dollars, that is four
or five times the health department budget of the
city that's being handed in corporate welfare to
people that do not need it. Last year the stock
exchange made, or the new York stock e xchange had
a profit of $13 million, and they're handing them
another billion. Change the way we spend our money.
The Latino community is a community that is starved
for resources and we are not giving it to them because
we are busy giving it to Mr. Steinbrenner in the
form of stadiums and the stock exchange. It is an
endless handout to people that don't need it.
[Question: What would you do specifically for
Well, specifically I would enhance the funding
of it right now and I would turn to some of the
creative efforts of bilingual teachers . I started
out as a teacher of adult education in the south
Bronx 37 years ago, became an ESL specialist, in
fact I have a doctor's degree in it, so I know something
about the subject and I also know that teachers
are underrated and their creativity is underrated
and what we need to do to enhance bilingual education
is to give some of that back to the teachers. But
more importantly, all over the world, bilingualism
is considered a valued skill that all the population
has. In this city we only talk about bilingual immigrants,
why not changing our system so that we make all
of our citizens bilingual? What about paying, for
instance, our police officers a salary incentive
if they are bilingual. Imagine if the tourists that
come to this city could actually ask an officer
for directions and perhaps he can respond.
[Question from the audience on police misconduct]
Well, what do we do about racial profiling, about
the 48 hour rule, about street sweeps? We stop them.
One of the major things that we can do is think
out of the box. The New York City police now has
a mission, their mission is to apprehend criminals.
Change that mission. Yes, of course catch criminals
and punish criminals, but how about preventing crimes.
One of the reasons why Diallo was killed was because
four policemen were operating under cover to apprehend
a criminal. If those four policemen had been in
uniform, they might have been preventing some crime
and it is highly unlikely they would have shot an
innocent civilian in his lobby. One of the problems
with the city police department is the mission.
The mission should be preventing crime, preventing
crime is best done by providing policemen in uniform
on the streets.
[Question: What initiatives would you take in
city government to address the problem of AIDS and
HIV in the Latino community?]
I am beginning to feel like a broken record, but
I'll repeat again, this city must re-order its priorities.
The city must stop spending 10-20 percent on corporate
welfare and put it where it needs to be put, with
its citizens and with citizen services. The problems
of AIDS services are endemic to under-funding them,
so we have to change our funding priorities.
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.