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?


The Terrorists Picked The Wrong City

by Peter Vallone

The horror of September 11th has affected us all. And for many, it has altered our course. For the first eight months of this year, I competed vigorously to win the office of Mayor. I campaigned on my experience -- working alongside the last three mayors. And I campaigned on my ideals. I put forth my plans for education, for health care, for economic development, for housing and policing. I challenged my fellow candidates in debate.

That competition ceased at 8:48 A.M. on September 11. Since that time, I have been doing my job, which is to govern. I've been working closely with the Mayor and the City Council and emergency officials, striving to put the city we love on the road to reconstruction and renewal.

Of the other candidates for mayor, I wish to say this: I know each of them personally and I know they are all deeply caring and committed New Yorkers. I value their service to the city. And I am honored to have participated with them in this year's campaign. I have learned something from each of them. And I hope I may have contributed something of value to them, as well.

In the aftermath of the attack I said that if the terrorists had hopes of knocking us out, they had picked the wrong city. At the time, I did not know just how right that was.

Thousands of New Yorkers have committed extraordinary acts of courage and compassion throughout this ordeal. Indeed, such acts by individual New Yorkers are too numerous to catalogue. Most will remain forever anonymous.

But in gestures large and small, the strength and spirit of New York has shed light through the darkness. Common New Yorkers have shown uncommon valor:

A downtown hardware store owner stayed open to provide phone calls and breathing masks to people escaping the disaster.

Taxi drivers offered free transportation to grieving families.

And so many of our bravest, finest, strongest and best gave their all.

What kind of person runs into a burning tower as it explodes from on high?

New York City firefighters.
New York City cops.
New York City EMS workers.
Everyday New Yorkers concerned about their coworkers and their friends.
Everyday New Yorkers who risked -- and lost -- their lives to help people they'd never met.

We can never forget the thousands of innocent lives that have been lost.

We will never forget our heroes.

We New Yorkers are known for fast talk and loud opinions. But should anyone ever question the character of our city, a silent gesture will speak volumes. We need only point to a place in the sky in downtown Manhattan -- where a void of terror was filled with courage, honor and grace.

We cannot deny that we have suffered an enormous tragedy. But we must not allow it to become a debilitating one.

I am a New Yorker born and bred. New York City has been more than my home . . . it has been my life's work. I can say with confidence that I have never seen the heart of New York beat with such passion and strength. New Yorkers from every corner, every color, every culture of the city are joining hands, building bridges, defying fear. We are hurt. But we are united in our pain. And in our unity there is an awesome strength.

The city government's response to the crisis has been extraordinary. I thank Mayor Giuliani for his outstanding leadership. I have been in constant contact with the Mayor since the early hours of this tragedy and I have never been more proud of any Mayor. The Mayor, the City government and all City emergency personnel and agencies have set a new standard for crisis management.

Let me take this opportunity to report briefly to you on what we have been doing:

In daily briefings with Mayor Giuliani and his team, we have been working to expedite the emergency efforts downtown. We also have been briefing City Council members on the effort -- so that they can provide the most up-to-date information and the most useful and extensive services to the neighborhoods and citizens they represent.

We have repeatedly toured the disaster site to assess the ongoing needs of rescue workers and city agencies and to respond to those needs as comprehensively and efficiently as possible.

We have been visiting the wounded in hospitals . . . and mourning our dead in places of worship across New York, alongside many of you.

Following consultations with the Mayor and his staff, on Friday I introduced legislation in the City Council to create a commission to oversee the reconstruction of downtown Manhattan. The commission would focus the city's resources and energies into rebuilding downtown. In addition, the bill provides emergency relocation assistance to businesses and residents.

The Mayor has also asked me to channel 25 million dollars from the Council's Emerging Industries Fund into loans for small businesses, particularly those in the city's hard-hit tourist industry. I support the Mayor's request and I will urge the City Council to support it.

As a result of the state of emergency, the Council has voted to suspend the deadline on pending land-use decisions in order to ensure the fair and deliberate consideration of those issues. Citizens and businesses with land-use proposals before the Council can rest assured that they will receive appropriate and timely consideration.

And last week I convened an emergency session of the Council. Because City Hall was still closed, we met at the New York Public Library. To my knowledge, it was one of the few times the Council has met outside City Hall since that building was completed in 1812. In last week's emergency session, the Council raised the debt limit of the City by 2.5 billion dollars. For twelve years as Speaker, I have overseen the adoption of balanced budgets every year by the Council. I have worked hard to keep expenditures in line with revenues. I believe I have been a careful custodian of your tax dollars. However, our decision last week to raise the debt limit was the right thing to do. We need to buy fire trucks and police cars. We need dump trucks and subway stations. We need food for the hungry, shelters for the cold, care for the sick, comfort for the mourning, and healing for the lonely and bereft.

In the coming months, we must focus on rebuilding. But we must not lose sight of other critical priorities. Our city will face economic difficulties -- potentially severe ones. We must be prepared to shape the city's budget to meet our most important needs -- without overspending. There was a time in the early 1990's when Mayor Dinkins and I cut the city budget by 2 billion dollars. I hope we will not face such a stark choice again. But we may.

As we move forward, we'll be exploring every option aimed at maximizing city resources. We will review land use legislation, tax policy and zoning laws. We will assist displaced businesses and residents. We will consider new development initiatives and new means of retaining and attracting jobs.

The months ahead will be difficult. Above all, we must maintain our confidence in our city and in ourselves. We have suffered a great and irreparable loss. But our spirit is unbowed. And our commitment, pride and tenacity are greater than ever.

Our city embodies everything that narrow and fearful minds detest: A city of great art and commerce . . . A city of towering architecture and grand aspirations . . . A city with the world's most varied and dynamic culture, with people of every race, religion and color living side by side. . . . A city of free people sharing common purpose. . . . A city whose citizens love life. . . A city whose guardians have proven they will enter the gates of hell to save a stranger.

A city blessed with citizens like that, cannot and will not be defeated.

We will begin again.

We will rebuild buildings;

We will rebuild businesses;

We will rebuild lives.

We will remember that terrible day. And we will honor our dead by building a city more beautiful, more just, more diverse and more united than any on earth. Hour by hour, in the midst of unimaginable horrors, New York City has shown the world the heart of a lion. The day will soon come when the world hears this proud city roar again.

God bless America. And God bless New York City.

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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