Campaign 2001 Feature

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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 Limits...


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?


Restoring Confidence

by Alan G. Hevesi

My closest friend in college died of leukemia last year. His youngest son was on the 105th floor of Tower One. Everybody in New York City has been personally touched by this vicious murder of thousands of our friends and our families.

We've lost hundreds of firefighters, police and emergency service personnel -- a loss beyond words. It's incomprehensible.

As we mourn and bury our dead, the most important thing for us to understand is that the task we face now is not just rebuilding. Our goal cannot be to end up in five years where we were two weeks ago. That's not even close to good enough.

Our task is to create a better, stronger, more prosperous City. A City that continues to draw the toughest, smartest and most creative people in the world because in the land of opportunity, this City defines opportunity.

I know we can go beyond expectations because of what we have already done in response to this tragedy in the last two weeks. As soon as the towers had fallen thousands rushed in to save those who were trapped. Firefighters and police officers worked tirelessly to save lives. Construction workers from around the City raced to the site to help. Every one there is a hero.

With magnificent leadership from Mayor Giuliani and with support from Governor Pataki, New Yorkers did not panic. The terrorists destroyed the twin towers, but we refused to let them destroy our City.

Now we must respond.

One of the greatest strengths we bring to that fight is our diversity. The people who died in the twin towers and the rescue crews represent every race, religion and ethnicity in the world. That's who we are as a City. Now more than ever, we must be vigilant against racism or bigotry of any kind, especially against our Muslim and Arab American communities.

The first task is to restore confidence in the City. We know we live in a dangerous world, and there is no longer absolute security anywhere. But just as we won the war against crime, we can create an environment that makes people confident that they can live, work and visit here.

New York City must do its part in the fight against terrorism. Working with the FBI and other agencies, the police department must develop contacts and sources within every community in the City, so that it can find and root out any terrorist cells that remain here. The police department should also begin immediately recruiting and training security guards at all City airports and public buildings.

The next mayor must create a security advisory commission headed by the police commissioner and including representatives of the FBI, other government agencies and the private sector. The commission will determine the most effective security measures and a plan to implement them.

Restoring confidence will also require rebuilding the World Trade Center and assisting businesses hurt by the attack to recover and to stay in New York City. We must convey the strongest possible message to every single company, big and small, that we want them back in business right here, as soon as possible.

I support the creation of a reconstruction authority with the power to get the job done quickly. The authority will coordinate the efforts of the federal, state and local governments and private companies. It will be able to issue bonds backed by federal assistance and, hopefully, federal guarantees.

The authority will have a majority of mayoral appointees, but the City will need partners, so the commission should include representatives of the State and federal governments and the private sector.

Working with the Mayor, the authority's first job will be to develop a special assistance package for businesses that suffered from the attack. This Back to Business Incentive package, offered to businesses big and small, will include:

  • Tax breaks for up to 10 years, including business and commercial rent tax breaks, for businesses that relocate anywhere in the five boroughs.
  • Lower energy and communication costs.
  • Revolving cash loans so that companies do not go out of business while they relocate and resume operations.
  • A training tax credit to help companies quickly train new workers, utilizing the resources of local colleges and universities.
  • Tax breaks and incentives for landlords who lost buildings or suffered severe damage, to help them rebuild and attract tenants.
  • Assistance for workers temporarily unemployed because of the attacks.

The authority will be responsible for using the federal reconstruction aid to attract additional private money to make reconstruction of the Trade Center possible. But we can't limit our vision for the future to a rebuilt World Trade Center. To keep New York City competitive, we must expand and improve. That means improving mass transit, including the full Second Avenue Subway and better connections between the different regional systems. It means finding ways to cut down on traffic congestion by building the freight tunnel. It means finding a way to develop the West Side of Manhattan through careful long-range planning that includes all the stakeholders. It means finding ways to protect our current manufacturing sector. It means building a modern waterway transportation system connecting all five boroughs and developing our underutilized waterfronts.

It won't be easy to find the financing for what amounts to the equivalent of a Marshal Plan for renewing New York City. The next mayor must work with our Congressional delegation to maximize federal aid, even above the $20 billion already committed, and ensure that it has as few restrictions as possible. We can combine the federal aid with new City borrowing authority, including the new $2.5 billion that the State has authorized for our existing Transitional Finance Authority.

We must work with the trustees of the City pension funds to help this effort. Remember that during the fiscal crisis, the unions and pension funds played an essential role in helping the City recover. The unions have been eager to find ways to invest more of the pension funds in New York. It is important that we find a safe way for that to happen now.

Tourism is one of our most important industries. We must have an aggressive campaign to show the people of America and the world that New York City is a wonderful place to visit. In the short term, we will need to support and preserve our arts and cultural institutions and Broadway.

New York must be the most business friendly City in the country. We must strengthen our economy and build jobs so that we will have the resources we need to accomplish our other important tasks, including creating the best urban school system in the country, building desperately needed affordable housing, and sustaining programs for senior citizens.

In sum, our message must be clear. We will pause now to mourn our dead, an overwhelming task. But the true monument we will build for those who died is the new New York we will create. The time to invest in New York, to create a business in New York, to buy a home in New York is now. Our best days are yet to come.

My Street Address:

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Find what city council district you are in -- and learn more about what's going on there, and who's running.

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

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.

Register To Vote or Be A Poll Worker

Voter Registration Forms
After printing and filling out the voter registration form, please send them by mail to:

Board of Elections
32 Broadway, 7th Floor
New York, NY

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Poll Worker Applications

After completing the forms, please send them to the address on the form.

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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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