District 8 East Harlem, Upper West Side, Mott Haven

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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-Philip Reed, Dem 17,584 - 83 percent
George DeMartino, Rep 2,372 - 11 percent
Miriam Falcon-Lopez, Ind 1,294 - 6 percent

Primary Election Results

Philip Reed 8,599
Felipe Luciano 7,553
(Official Vote Count from the Board of Elections)

Incumbent: Philip Reed

The Candidates:

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

George De Martino has not filed
Contributors to Miriam Falcon Lopez
Contributors to Felipe Luciano
Contributors to Philip Reed

City's Official Primary Election Voter Guide for Residents of District 8

Issue Statements:
District 8 candidates' statements on the issues, at Savvyvoter.org

Campaign Feature:
[Campaign Update]

Battling For El Barrio

In the late 1960's, Felipe Luciano, a former drug addict who served two years in jail for a crime he says he did not commit, became the leader of the Young Lords Party. The armed Latino political group took over a church on 111th Avenue and Lexington Avenue to protest conditions in the neigbhorhood and demanded better schools.

Three decades later and three blocks away, Luciano called a press conference to announce that he was running for City Council. At 53 years old, he has become a familiar face on television, first as a reporter on Channel 4, now on Channel 5. If his life has changed dramatically, he says, it is the kind of extreme transformation that he hopes to effect on his neighborhood as well.

"I believe I can represent the aspirations and dreams of East Harlem," he said.

Luciano is one of three challengers hoping to unseat incumbent Councilmember Phil Reed for City Council district 8. In the 1997 Democratic primary, Reed took only 42 percent of the vote, and some credit his victory to the split of the Hispanic vote among competing candidates in the largely Hispanic district.

The heart of the district is East Harlem, a neighborhood that has welcomed thousands of Puerto Ricans, and increasingly Mexican and Dominican immigrants, to the city. The neighborhood is world famous for its Latin-American culture and music (110th Street was recently renamed for Tito Puente), and many would like to see a Latino council member.

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


  • 52% Hispanic
  • 23% Black
  • 21% White
  • 4% Asian

Median income: $30,396 (Ranks 44th out of 51)

Unemployment rate: 12%

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

"I believe the district should go to the Spanish voter," said Edwin Marcial, another candidate, who is an actor on Spanish-language soap operas and a local activist.

But it is also a neighborhood known for its struggles.

One major concern in the area is health issues, since district 8 has some of the highest rates of HIV infection and asthma in the city. Incumbent Reed cites his record of helping create 100 units of AIDS housing in the district and convincing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to put a roof and a ventilation system on the bus depot on 100th Street to prevent exhaust fumes from polluting the district.

But his challengers contend that more must be done to provide services and to create a healthier environment for residents. "I am trying to convince members of the City Council to move the sanitation garages where the trucks are parked to Randalls Island," said Marcial.

Housing is also an issue since 40 percent of the area's population lives in public housing, and the area is plagued by abandoned property and absentee landlords. Housing is especially a problem for elderly members of the community, according to candidate Meeling Eng, who works with seniors. "We have seniors who have been living here for 30 or 40 years, and now we need to build senior housing for them," said Eng.

The candidates also put economic development at the top of their list. "We have inspired some of the greatest Latin music in the world, but there are no night clubs in our area," said Luciano. "We have wonderful food, but few restaurants."

District 8 also includes areas of the Upper West Side along Central Park and Mott Haven in the South Bronx, which presents considerable challenges to the elected official.

"I don't know anyone that has three completely separate neighborhoods in their district," said Reed. "But I think we've created a climate where everyone is represented."

But his opponents disagree. "He's never around," said Eng. "I was born and raised here. I don't know how much change I can make, but I will lobby for East Harlem."

"Phil Reed didn't visit the area schools, he forgot about the Bronx, and he doesn't have a vision for the community," Marcial charged.

Luciano said that members of the East Harlem neighborhood approached him and urged him to run against Reed. "There is no compassion or empathy between the current incumbent and the community," he said.

Luciano also believes that local pastors are the "faith warriors" who can bring real change to the community and that as the next councilman he can help. "I believe people will one day want to move from Westchester to East Harlem because our schools are so good," said Luciano. "East Harlem can become ninth century Spain, where Jews, Muslims and Christians live together That is my vision."

Reed, who is a member of the council committees on health, parks, and public safety, said he will run on his accomplishments, such as the AIDS housing, cleaning up the pollution at the bus depot, and making dramatic increases in getting rid of abandoned buildings. "I don't take anything for granted, but I am confident that based on my record, I will be reelected."

posted 5/29/01

Campaign Update:

Miriam Falcon Lopez, chief of staff for Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell, IV, entered the Democratic race for a short time, then withdrew to support candidate Felipe Luciano.

Falcon Lopez told East Harlem Online in May that she was challenging Luciano because, "I don't believe that Felipe Luciano is ready for the job." But now she is out campaigning with him and will run as an Independence and Liberal party candidate only if Luciano loses in the primary.

Republican George De Martino says his chances of winning in the overwhelmingly Democratic area of East Harlem would be "a miracle of God." De Martino does not plan to campaign or take donations. "I like politics in general and I basically look at this as a life experience." So why is he running at all?. "If you don't have two horses, you don't have a race."

posted 9/10/01

Candidate Biographies

George De Martino is a retired retail storeowner who was born and raised in East Harlem. He volunteers with garden groups, educational programs, and as a poll worker for the Board of Elections.

Meeling Eng has worked with senior citizens for many years and is currently with the Theater Art Senior Nutrition Program. She has been a member of Community School Board 4 for 12 years. As a person of Puerto Rican and Chinese heritage, she is running a campaign for community unity.

Miriam Falcon Lopez is chief of staff for Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell, IV. She also worked as community representative and director of director of Congressman Charles Rangel's eastside district office for 12 years. Falcon Lopez, who is a member of Community Board 11, has an Associates Degree in Urban Health and a BA in Business Administration from St. John's University. She also served in the U.S. Airforce.

Felipe Luciano is an Emmy award-winning reporter. He was the first Puerto Rican news anchor for WNBC and a former co-host of Good Day Street Talk on Fox 5. He is also co-founder of the Young Lords Party and served as a commissioner on the City Task Force on Police and Community Relations.

Edwin Marcial is a Spanish language soap-opera actor, a local activist, a member of Community Board 11, and a member of School Board 4.

Philip Reed was elected to City Council in 1997. He serves on a number of committees including public safety, governmental operations, health, and parks. In the past, he worked as the project director for the East New York HIV/AIDS Project and the director for public affairs for the Hetrick-Martin Institute. He holds a Masters degree in Non-Profit Management from the New School for Social Research.


Campaign Trail

The New York Times today endorsed a candidate in this race. Eighth District (Central Park West, East Harlem and Mott Haven in the South Bronx): This is one of the few districts in which an incumbent not being forced out by term limits is facing a real challenge. Councilman Philip Reed is in a tough fight against Felipe Luciano, a dynamic radio and television personality who is appealing to Hispanic voters. Given the turnover in the Council this year, Mr. Reed offers the advantages of stability, seniority and a solid record of representing the needs of all his constituents, particularly on the issues of housing and asthma. We endorse Philip Reed.

The New York Times called this one of the ten races to watch. The incumbent councilman, Philip Reed, is facing a primary battle against Felipe Luciano, a television reporter and anchorman and a co- founder of the Young Lords. The district includes East Harlem and a slice of the Bronx. (New York Times)

When Phil Reed won his City Council seat four years ago, he not only had his supporters to thank, but his opponents as well. Four Puerto Rican residents of East Harlem divided the votes from their community, paving the way for victory for the African-American district leader from the West Side. This year, with newscaster Felipe Luciano in the race, leaders in El Barrio thought they had a chance to win the district which is close to 60 percent Hispanic. A few weeks ago, however, Latino1s chances of taking the Harlem seat greatly diminished. At a brainstorming session with a small group of his campaign supporters at the end of April, Luciano lost some of his star status when he allegedly made comments described by some witnesses as "offensive" and "hurtful." (Luciano did not return calls for this story.) Turned off by his behavior, some people spit off from his campaign, and another East Harlem candidate was born. Miriam Falcon-Lopez, a longtime staffer to Congressman Charles Rangel before becoming chief of staff to Asssemblyman Adam Clayton Powell last year, withdrew her support for Luciano, announced her candidacy and took some of his supporters with her. Now, the two residents of El Barrio are dividing the neighborhood1s institutional power with a third, Edwin Marcial, a perennial candidate for this seat. (City Limits)

Currently East Harlem, also known as Spanish Harlem because of its majority Hispanic population, is represented by Councilman Phil Reed (D-Manhattan), an African American, who also represents the upper Upper West Side of Manhattan and part of the South Bronx. But the majority of his constituents live in East Harlem. One hears frequent appeals by blacks and Latinos to form a political coalition to promote common goals. But this City Council race proves there's as much competition as there is cooperation between the groups. And with Hispanics having replaced blacks as New York City's largest racial minority, things could get even more fractious. The City Council race in East Harlem proves that multi-racial coalitions are easier to talk about than to achieve. And, in the end, battles such as these tend to be less about cultural values than they are about the quest for raw power. (Newsday)

Of the hundreds of candidates running for City Council this year, few can match the unusual resume of Felipe Luciano, former Young Lords leader and longtime television reporter. Luciano's life and career have soared and crashed so often that his story is already part of New York Latino folklore. (Daily News)

The East Harlem race heats up with the addition of Felipe Luciano, a news reporter, and Edwin Marcial, a member of community board 11. Both hope to challenge incumbent Phil Reed in the primary. (East Harlem Online)

Profiles of Councilman Phil Reed in Harlem Live, a community web site run by local youth. (Harlem Live)

East Harlem says goodbye to Latin musician Tito Puente, including words from candidate Felipe Luciano. (Newsday)

East Harlem residents continue to oppose the projected renovation and reopening of a bus depot in a community with the city's highest asthma hospitalization rate. The city council's transportation committee heard arguments at the end of March from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and community and environmental organizations about the renovation and reuse of the 100th Street bus depot on Lexington Avenue, which closed in March 1998. Millard Seay, senior vice president of the MTA's New York City Transit Department of Buses, testified that the $90 million renovation is part of a 1993 bus-depot plan to allow the MTA to eventually close the Hudson and Amsterdam depots in lower and upper Manhattan respectively. According to Seay, the 100th Street depot will consist of four floors, totaling approximately 300,000 square feet. Two of the floors will be used exclusively to house buses and will eliminate the need for cold-weather idling outside the facility, which releases noxious fumes. Renovation will increase the depot's capacity by 50 percent, allowing space for 133 new, articulated buses. Councilmember Philip Reed, who requested the hearing, opposes the bus depot because his constituents believe the resultant air pollution will contribute to an increase in the community's already high asthma rate. (Village Voice)

The New Republic looks at the anti-poverty initiatives in New York City, including the 125th Street development. "I recognize that, in order for this community to change, somebody's going to have to make a buck," says city council member Phil Reed in the article. "I don't have a problem with that." (New Republic)

In 1997, Philip Reed surprised a healthy field in East Harlem politics. The candidates included Federico Colon, Wilma Sena, Edwin Marcial, Jorge Vidro and Curtis Kirkman. (East Harlem Online)


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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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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