on the pull-down menu and select your district
Recent Feature Stories:
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
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?
Up For Grabs (11/1/01)
Do not tell Martin Golden or
Joanne Seminara that the campaign for City
Council ended on primary day. They are still
campaigning and campaigning hard to represent
their Brooklyn district. And they are not
alone. While most races for City Council were
in effect decided on September 25, in several
districts across the city the two party system
is alive, and voters will have a real choice
on November 6. A look
at the most competitive contests.
Right Side of the Ballot
Along with mayor, public advocate
and other offices, the ballot that New Yorkers
will confront on November 6 lists five
proposals to change the New York City
Charter, the city's governing document. Critics
questions why the mayor is trying to alter
the charter once again. But some argue
that the proposals call for needed changes
health, and the agencies to fight organized
crime and terrorism.
2001: The Promise and the Problems
Many thought Campaign 2001
would bring a new era in city politics. Term-limits
and campaign finance reform promised more
competitive races, greater diversity in candidates,
and a better opportunity for those without
money, political connections, or a political
family name. Others warned that the Board
of Elections would not be able to handle all
of the candidates and voters and that the
city might have "chaos." As the election day
approaches, what became of the promise, and
the problems, that were expected? And how
did the events of September 11 -- the day
that was supposed to be the primary day --
alter the expectations of the city's new government?
and A About The Election (9/21/01)
For The Last Minute Voter (9/3/01)
Gotham Gazette offers a Guide For the Last
Minute Voter, a step by step tour to discover
who is running; what they have to say about
the issues (if anything); what endorsements
they have gotten; what has been happening
during the campaign season (who has charged
what, who has been kicked off the ballot or
accused of getting kickbacks). Finally, we
show you how to find your polling place, what
to do if things go wrong -- and how to complain
$10. REWARD: $30,000 (8/29/01)
Just when they thought they had survived Board
of Elections hearings and the bizarre system
of legal challenges to get on the ballot,
some of the candidates are facing a new set
of rules and challenges--from the Campaign
Party's Not Over
This month, a third of the candidates for City Council in Queens were kicked
off the ballot. Three-quarters of all candidates were denied matching public
funds. Most of the candidates who survived shared one thing; they had the
backing of a county Democratic organization - a party machine. Indeed, the
machines provided the muscle behind the challenges that kicked the
non-machine candidates off the ballot. Clearly, the political party still has
power. Too much power, say Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg and others who
advocate a solution -- non-partisan elections. A look at the partisan debate
over the removal of political parties from local politics.
Where'd your favorite candidate go? One minute
she's wooing you with promises, and the next
she's dropped out and endorsing someone else.
A look at the party machines, neophyte mistakes
and medical excuses that have led to the candidate
We tail 19-year-old Yehuda Katz as he campaigns
for a seat in the City Council, not so much
running as riding - for 24 hours continuously
on the D and the Q trains. His high school
teacher had come up with this idea.
Talk: What If They Gave An Election That The
Former mayoral candidate Ruth
Messinger explains why she thinks that
this year's mayoral campaign is NOT boring
- that the reason some New Yorkers think it
so is not the fault of the candidates, but
and the Power of Incumbency
If term limits has gotten rid of most incumbents,
it has not gotten rid of the power of incumbency.
This campaign season, Lenore
Chester points out, has seen the emergence
of a new breed of incumbents -- pseudo-incumbents.
Supporters of the new term limits law hoped
that it would bring in some fresh faces in
the City Council. Nobody could have known
how fresh they would be. After voters elected
the youngest councilman in City history last
February, the field of candidates includes
more than a half dozen under 25, and even
a teenager or two.
Latest Third Party
New York is one of the few places in the nation
where third parties have had a consistent
impact, both in the past, and potentially
during the present campaign as well. A look
at the youngest and the fastest growing, the
Working Families Party - their history, their
current roster of endorsements, their future.
Nod of the Bosses
This week, the Queens machine gave its formal
endorsements for mayor, borough president,
public advocate, comptroller and members of
the City Council - all in two minutes, thirty
seconds. What lasting impact will these endorsements
have on the races? What about the choices
from the Bronx and Brooklyn machines; what
about the political catfight in Staten Island?
Do any of the machines' machinations mean
anything anymore, especially when term limits
were supposed to present a level playing field?
Bob Liff says
yes. Liff looks behind the endorsements
-- not just by the party bosses, but by unions,
prominent pastors and local district party
leaders - explaining why they were made and
what will happen now.
Speech That Saved Term Limits
campaign season may wind up having the closest
elections in New York City history. For those
candidates running for borough president and
for seats in the City Council, whoever wins,
wins, no matter how few votes they get. But,
since 1972, the law has required a runoff
election in New York City for mayor, comptroller
and public advocate if no candidate wins at
least 40 percent of the vote. Lenore
Chester looks at the 30-year history of
NYC runoff elections, which has seemed at
times less about the noble goal of effective
governance, and more about race, or making
sure a Democrat got elected.
least a half dozen candidates for City Council
are the sons or
daughters of current Council members.
Are they born politicians, groomed from an
early age to lead (or at least to change street
names)? Or are they beneficiaries of a kind
of nepotism, in which their qualifications
are irrelevant? Or, as critics have suggested,
is there a third and nefarious explanation:
Is this just a way to get around term limits?
They Stack Up on Term Limits (2/24/01)
a survey, we asked the members of the City
Council two questions:
1. "Do you support Intro. 880 that would repeal
2. To the 35 members who can not run again,
"If term limits is repealed, would you seek
YOU SUPPORT INTRO 880?"
23 SAID "YES"
20 SAID "NO"
8 SAID THEY ARE "UNDECIDED"
"IF TERM LIMITS IS REPEALED, WOULD YOU
SEEK REELECTION FOR YOUR SEAT?"
21 SAID "NO"
5 SAID "YES"
6 SAID THEY ARE
3 DID NOT RESPOND
Training for Council Recruits
and lawyers long have had their own schools.
So has nearly everyone involved in the day
to day operations of the city (police officers,
firefighters, bus drivers), with a notable
exception--politicians. Now there are training
programs for them too. We report
on one such course that is teaching the basics
of being a City Councilmember -- everything
from what to expect on the first day in office
to when the best time is to raise money --
and offer edited transcripts of lectures from
three of the professors, Councilmembers Thomas
Ognibene and Ronnie
Eldridge and the father of the City Charter,
Eric Lane on the
importance of his baby
for the City Council
year, term-limits will oust 35 of the 51 City
Councilmembers from office and make way for
hundreds of new political candidates. Community
activists, candidates from new immigrant groups,
children of politicians, staff members in
government and everyday citizens are all making
their best run for public office. Never before
have the doors to City Council been this wide
open. The result will be a historic election
that will be both fascinating and confusing.
Here is a first
look at what to watch for in the City Council
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.