District 38 Red Hook, Sunset Park, South Park Slope

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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?


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Learn more about this district in Searchlight 2002

General Election Results

x-Angel Rodriguez, Dem 10,862 - 70 percent
Leonard Silver, Rep 2,570 - 17 percent
George Martinez, Ind 1,773 - 11 percent
Harris W. Davis, Lib 234 - 2 percent

Primary Election Results

Incumbent: Angel Rodriguez

The Candidates:

  • Harris W. Davis (Lib)
  • George Martinez (Ind)
  • Angel Rodriguez (Dem)
  • Leonard Silver (Rep/Con)

Contributors to these candidates, according to the Campaign Finance Board:

Joann Cox has not filed.
Harris W. Davis has not filed
Contributors to George Martinez
Contributors to Angel Rodriguez
Leonard Silver has not filed.

City's Official Primary Election Voter Guide for Residents of District 38

Campaign Tangle:
George Martinez was knocked off the Democratic ballot. "The organization brought out a laundry list of challenges, before they even knew what we had," said Martinez. Martinez is working with his lawyers on an appeal. Martinez will still appear on the general election in November as an Independence party candidate. For more details, see the Campaign Update. Posted 8/22/01

Campaign Feature:
[Campaign Update]

Green Dreams for Red Hook

When Councilman Angel Rodriguez looks at the Brooklyn waterfront, he sees Parks, not abandoned factories.

"I want to build a beach in Red Hook, waterfront gardens on the Gowanus Canal, and have boat access there as well," says Rodriguez. He is even looking into the possibility of putting the elevated section of the Bronx-Queens Expressway underground.

These are long-term goals, but they could get a boost if Rodriguez, who is running for his second term in office, is also elected as the next Speaker of City Council, as he hopes.

Will he get 25 other Council members to vote for him? "I'm in pretty good shape," he replies.

George Martinez, a 27-year-old doctoral student at the City University of New York, sees it differently. He says Rodriguez has failed to educate the area's residents, particularly its low-income residents, about the possible consequences of development. "Rather than focusing on 26 votes in the City Council, I am focusing on the 150,000 residents in our community," says Martinez.

While the incumbent Councilmember and challenger disagree on who can do a better job, it is clear that the future of district 38, which includes Sunset Park, Red Hook, and South Park Slope, is largely tied to the waterfront.

The area was once a bustling seaport and manufacturing center, then went through a period of neglect and decay, and is now making a comeback by improving recreational areas and welcoming new housing and businesses.

Area Profile
For a detailed profile of this district from City Project, click here.


  • Hispanic 53%
  • White, non-Hispanic 26%
  • Black, non-Hispanic 12%
  • Asian 10%

Median income: $35,261 (ranked 37 out of 51)

Unemployment rate: 11%

For more information on this district -- its schools, its crime statistics and more -- click here.

Angel Rodriguez cites his record of working toward a community development plan that he says benefits the whole area. In the last two years, Rodriguez secured $150,000 to study the feasibility of dismantling the Gowanus Expressway and constructing an underground tunnel to replace it. Not only would it cut down on noise and pollution, Rodriguez says, it would make room for new housing for both middle and low-income families.

Rodriguez also worked to develop 22 acres of waterfront land in Sunset Park into a shoreline park. And in the next five years, he hopes to get $15 million in city funds for more park development in district 38. All these projects, Rodriguez notes, must be pursued in an "environmentally and socially responsible way."

But George Martinez says the discussion of redevelopment plans so far have been closed to all but a few local residents.

"I am worried that the poor people of color in Red Hook will be seen as part of the problem to be solved when redevelopment plans are evaluated," says Martinez. "The people will either be crushed or we can help them realize they are the backbone of the economic development."

Martinez adds that some businesses and residents are already being pushed out by rising rents, and that a portion of Red Hook has recently been given a more upscale nickname. "Is Red Hook Red Hook or is it Liberty Heights?" he asks.

While the fears about large scale gentrification may be somewhat premature, (a recent sign in Red Hook that read "Coming Soon: Starbucks" was a practical joke) both Rodriguez and Martinez agree that for new development to help current residents, it must bring both industrial and technical jobs and be accompanied by diverse housing construction.

Another major issue is the New York State Power Authority plans to put new power plants in the district.

"Where is Angel's leadership on the power plant that is being built two blocks from where our children live and play?" asks Martinez.

Rodriguez says he opposed the plan and that the Power Authority circumvented the proper review process by claiming that it would only generate 79.9 megawatts of energy, just under the 80 megawatt level that would have required a more comprehensive review process.

"I vigorously opposed this, but they got around the law," says Rodriguez.

Recently, the State Power Authority also proposed a much larger power plant in the district, which Martinez is against, in part because of the potential environmental hazards it poses to residents.

"I had asthma as a kid myself," says Martinez. "Any further power plant construction must be part of a comprehensive environmental justice plan." Rodriguez says the city has seven or eight years to consider its options, but that for now the argument that the city faces massive blackouts without the plant is "complete nonsense."

So far the campaign for district 38 has been a series of polite but pointed exchanges.

Rodriguez calls Martinez a "a smart young man" that he knew little about until this spring. "He has been invisible in the district, [and] has no history of doing anything there," says Rodriguez. Martinez says he has been active through the Police Athletic League, the New York Public Research Group and Welfare Rights Initiative. Martinez says Rodriguez is a "a smart and decent man," but that "he has not done the job."

Despite the daunting task of running against an incumbent, Martinez says he is not running just to boost his name recognition in hopes of running again later. "Some of these issues are pressing enough that two years down the line might be too late to interject into the conversation."

posted 6/25/01

Campaign Update:

George Martinez was knocked off the ballot for the Democratic primary. "The organization brought out a laundry list of challenges, before they even knew what we had," says Martinez. "This is really a dig toward grassroots campaigns."

Martinez says he turned in 1,300 valid signatures to the Board of Elections (only 900 are required) but his list was cut down as Angel Rodriguez's lawyers challenged the addresses of people who signed. "We did not know it but some people had moved or were confused about what district they lived in," says Martinez.

Martinez is working with his lawyers on an appeal and will still appear on the general election in November as an Independence party candidate. "I feel I've been doing really good work as an independent Democrat, so I'm still excited and we're not going to stop," says Martinez.

Four other candidates are also running: Republicans Christopher Conroy and Joann Cox, Liberal candidate Harris Davis, and Conservative candidate Leonard Silver. None of the candidates could be reached.

Posted 8/22/01

Candidate Biographies

Christopher W. Conroy (no information available.)

Joann Cox (no information available.)

Harris W. Davis (no information available.)

George Martinez is an adjunct professor of political science at Hunter College. Also a hip-hop artist, Martinez co-founded the Blackout Arts Collective, a non-profit arts education organization.

Angel Rodriguez has served in the City Council since 1997 and is a member of the finance committee and the budget negotiating committee for the Black and Latino caucus. Before taking office, he worked as an accountant.

Leonard Silver (no information available.)

Campaign Trail

Dozens of City Council candidates are still clinging to the corners of the ballot in race after race. George Martinez, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Angel Rodriguez in the 38th District in Brooklyn, says he will
appeal this week's decision by the Board of Elections that knocked him off the ballot. (New York Times)

George Martinez, a Council candidate at City Hall yesterday to support racial-profiling legislation proposed by Fernando Ferrer, said that he was flattered because he was being challenged by the incumbent in his Brooklyn district. "I've been out knocking on doors since February in the projects before anybody was even thinking about challenges," he said. "So this just means that our message is being heard." (New York Times)

Though gentrification is creeping in, Red Hook maintains a suburban remoteness and industrial character. Unlike DUMBO and Williamsburg, this Brooklyn waterfront town has not been overrun by chic youthful urbanites yet. (The New York Times)

Night after night in New York City, fundraising events take place, in people's apartments or slightly garish catering halls. And whether the affairs are standard or eclectic, they are all driven by the same desire: campaign cash. And they are taking place with a frequency that politicians and donors alike say is unprecedented in modern city politics.

George Martinez, a candidate for a Council seat in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, has also sought to attract first-time voters to his candidacy. But Mr. Martinez, 27, a doctoral fellow at the City University of New York and adjunct professor at Hunter College, has sought to make his appeal to twenty-something voters through music and poetry.

Mr. Martinez brought together more than 100 people for a minimum contribution of $10 apiece to the Brecht Forum in Manhattan recently for an evening of hip-hop and Latin dance music interspersed with the performances of "spoken word" artists. The event, which was sponsored by Malik Yoba, the actor, raised about $3,500 for Mr. Martinez's insurgent campaign against the incumbent councilman, Angel Rodriguez, in the Democratic primary.

"I want politics to be accessible," Mr. Martinez said. "And having D.J.'s playing hip-hop and spoken word artists is speaking the language of the younger generation. That represents the way in which younger people express themselves socially and politically. It's not a traditional fund-raiser, but it is effective." (New York Times)

Councilman Angel Rodriguez, who wants to be the next speaker of the Council, figures the ambitions of his expected challengers for the Council's top spot work in his favor. Backing him, Rodriguez argues, will let newcomers scope out their colleagues and seek the top spot after 2003. (Daily News)

While hundreds of candidates around the city are vying for open Council seats, there is at least one who's decided to run for a seat that's held by an incumbent. George Martinez, who teaches political science at Hunter College, is aiming to take the job of Councilmember Angel Rodriguez. "I believe there's no free rides for incumbents," said Martinez. Martinez, a resident of Sunset Park, also works with youth through his not-for-profit arts and education organization. He said that concerns about potential power plant construction and improving education were top on his agenda. When asked, he said that he was not affiliated with Assemblymember Felix Ortiz, with whom Rodriguez has a chilly relationship. He also said that he wasn't running just to boost his name recognition for another bid two years from now. "Some of these [local] issues are pressing enough that two years down the line might be too late to interject into the conversation," said Martinez. (Courier Life Newspapers)

George Martinez, who teaches political science at Hunter College, is challenging Councilmember Angel Rodriguez, one of the councilmembers not being forced out by term limits. Martinez, a resident of Sunset Park, also works with youth through his not-for-profit arts and education organization. He said that concerns about potential power plant construction and improving education were top on his agenda. (Brooklyn Courier Life Newspaper, reprinted by Lambda Independent Democrats)

Councilmembers Kathryn Freed, Philip Reed and Angel Rodriguez let a reporter tag along with them on their rounds. All work very long hours and all say that no one appreciates what they do. The powers of the Council, they agree, are in its ability to negotiate around the edges of the $37 billion city budget, and in its role in occasionally passing crucial legislation. (The New York Times)

At least three current Council members are vying to be the new Speaker: Bill Perkins, Gifford Miller, and Angel Rodriguez. A fourth, Adolfo Carrion, says he'll be in the running for Speaker if he does not run for Bronx Borough President. (NY Post)

With a four-way tussle in the Democratic primary for mayor and with wide openings amongst the city's most powerful positions, we'e headed for a revolutionary election year. One of the new Councilmembers is more likely to become the next speaker than one of the incumbents--though several carryover incumbents, including Angel Rodriguez, are already vying for the post. (Village Voice)

Councilmember Rodriguez criticized the Fire Department's efforts to increase the number of minorities in its ranks as inadequate. (The New York Times)

Fairway may open a new supermarket in a city-owned warehouse on the Red Hook waterfront, a move that could jump-start nascent development efforts. Councilman Angel Rodriguez sees the prospect of a big-box store on the waterfront as a waste of prime land and said he would oppose the plan if it went before Council. (The New York Times)


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.

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Board of Elections
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New York, NY

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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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