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?


Reaching Out

by Fernando Ferrer

There are no words to adequately describe the pain and horror that every New Yorker felt on Tuesday, September 11th. As a city, our thoughts and prayers are with the friends and families of every individual who perished or is still missing in that unthinkable act of terror, or died in the effort to rescue fellow New Yorkers.

In what will go down in history as the darkest hour in our five boroughs, New York City was at its best. The firefighters, police officers, rescue workers, construction workers, and volunteers who risked and sacrificed their lives brought unparalleled honor to New York City. The communal spirit that lies at the very heart of our city shined brightly: neighbors treating neighbors like family; strangers giving comfort to strangers; New Yorkers from every community and of every faith, offering prayers for those they may never have known.

Mayor Giuliani and I have had our differences over issues and policy. But, like every New Yorker, I am grateful to the Mayor for the extraordinary leadership, dedication, and compassion he has demonstrated during this terrible ordeal. And Mayor Giuliani, like many New Yorkers, must be a part of our ongoing rebuilding effort.

Even as we grieve our terrible losses, we are a stronger city today than we were before evil sought to weaken us. While the efforts in lower Manhattan continue, we take solace in the fact that the greatest city in the world displayed its greatness during a moment of unprecedented crisis.

The challenges that face our city in the months and years to come are daunting. We will work every day of the year to revive the physical structure of our city, re-energize our economy, and restore confidence in New York City as the preeminent destination anywhere in the world.

While the budgetary implications are not yet certain, there is no doubt that reconstruction and recovery will carry a heavy price -- a price our city and its next mayor cannot handle alone.

We must reach across the aisle and reach out to those with whom we've sometimes been at odds. We support the President as he leads our country in the battle against terrorism. And we rely on a joint commitment of our federal, state and local governments, along with the private sector, to address this economic crisis now and in the future.

The economic foundation of New York City remains strong. We will do everything necessary to bring our City back -- and we will bring it back stronger than ever before. We are blessed to live in a magnificent city with unequalled social and cultural offerings -- and eight million New Yorkers who represent the very best America has to offer.

But let's be clear and realistic. Our world and our city changed on September 11th. The structural and economic recovery of our city is now our urgent priority.

When those two jets struck our twin towers, they not only attacked innocent New Yorkers and the symbol of our city's economic preeminence; they attacked our values.

But we refuse to lose sight of the pressing needs in our city, those that were important on September 10th - and are still important today.

We will honor our commitments to our 1.1 million schoolchildren, too many of whom are trapped in schools that cannot succeed; to working parents who want peace of mind that their children are safe after school; to families who need affordable housing and accessible health care; and to communities and police officers who deserve a relationship that is as strong and productive as it has been in this time of need.

Our city is being tested. We must be strong and confident in our commitment to shared values. When we look to the future of our city, we must look up and look forward -- keeping our promise to build a better future for our kids.

If we fail in that mission, the hateful acts of the terrorists who waged war on us will have won.

If we abandon our commitment to reforming our schools, we will have failed our children's future.

If we abandon our commitment to safe and secure after-school activities for our kids, we will have failed working parents.

If we fail to make affordable housing, accessible health care, and strong police-community relations a reality, we will have failed families living in every borough and in every neighborhood.

If we fail to put the needs of New Yorkers first, then we will have surrendered to those who have waged war on our nation and assaulted our values.

One outgrowth of this tragedy is the fact that our city has grown closer together. We have a new and deeper appreciation for the tough and dangerous jobs of our firefighters, police officers, and emergency workers.

We must rebuild and repair those departments - particularly the fire department, which suffered devastating losses as those heroes laid down their lives so that others might be saved.

By building on the mutual trust and admiration for the men and women who protect our safety, we will make that relationship a permanent one. In these dangerous times, we must give our strong support to those who enforce our laws while remaining ever vigilant in protecting the rights of law-abiding people by ensuring that no one is unfairly treated because of the color of their skin or the language they speak. Community policing, a stronger Civilian Complaint Review Board, and an end to racial profiling will enhance the relationship between police and the communities they serve -- building on our unity in this time of crisis.

No American city has ever been confronted with a tragedy of this nature and magnitude, or its consequences. We have no point of reference when it comes to dealing with terror and destruction at this level. So as we seek out solutions for our city, we must rely on our personal experience in public life.

When I left the City Council and became Borough President of the Bronx over 14 years ago, we faced a different kind of devastation.

We went to work -- rolling up our sleeves and reaching deeply into communities as we hammered out a plan for turning a Borough that was once the poster child of urban decay into an international model of urban revival. We knew that we couldn't do it alone; it took the leadership of the Mayor; the input of business leaders, labor leaders, civic leaders, and community leaders; and the hope and trust of every family living in every neighborhood in our borough.

We refused to allow hopelessness and despair to be our destiny. We worked together in common cause, and we accomplished great things.

As a City today, we also confront hopelessness and despair. But we will not yield to our sorrows and hand the terrorists that victory. We can turn this moment of pain into a time of triumph. We will work together to make this a time of great progress, new hope, and opportunity.

I want to lead that effort as mayor.

Right now, political campaigns seem small and inconsequential. But we are on the brink of making a decision that will have great bearing on our future as a City -- and the legacy that we leave our children.

The previous election was cancelled, and all votes cast that day have been thrown out. So even if you voted before, please take a moment to exercise your right to vote on Tuesday the 25th -- whether it be for me or one of the other able candidates who seeks to lead our city.

Together, we will send a powerful message to the terrorists who lurk in the shadows and seek to destroy our way of life. We will declare that our democracy and our love of freedom are stronger than their hatred and evil. We will show them what makes America a beacon of hope and freedom throughout the world.

As we move forward, we will do so together. We will meet these challenges head on, and we will build a stronger city than we have ever imagined.

My Street Address:

My ZIP Code:

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

You will need Acrobat Reader to view these forms.

Poll Worker Applications

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

You will need Acrobat Reader to view these forms.

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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