Campaign 2001 Feature

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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?


My Agenda to Rebuild New York

By Fernando Ferrer

The terrorist attack on the World Trade Center was a disaster of catastrophic proportions.

Although we cannot know at this time the true extent of the economic damage caused by the attack, preliminary estimates of $40 to $60 billion have been made, and they may well prove to be low.

The City provides employment for about 3.8 million people and is home to two of America's top three office districts. Wall Street is the hometown industry of lower Manhattan; the twin towers of the World Trade Center had been its crown jewels. Tuesday, September11th changed that.

Thirty-two brokerage firms had offices there. So, too, did major international banks. Thousands of productive people are gone. The loss of these lives will mark family, friends, co-workers, and indeed, all New Yorkers forever. The sudden loss of their talent, energy, productivity, and earnings has already affected our colleagues and businesses. The loss of entire fire engine, ladder and rescue teams and scores of police and emergency workers have left us all stricken.

The economy, too, has taken a shock. The initial impact destroyed 15 million square feet of office space; with the collateral damage, the lost commercial space will be closer to 25-30 million square feet. It also destroyed two of the three electrical substations and substantial telecommunications switching equipment supplying downtown. The insurance costs of this disaster will be borne by firms headquartered a long way from Manhattan, including Munich Re, Swiss Re and Lloyds. Cleaning this up is estimated to cost about $1 billion.

In the immediate aftermath, some businesses are shuttered and thousands of jobs have been lost. How long this shock lasts and the ultimate costs on the strength of our private economy and our public revenues cannot be known now. Now, the question of confidence hangs over us. Will consumers keep spending and keep the economy out of recession? Will businesses return to lower Manhattan? Will visitors come?

Restoring the nation's confidence is being urgently addressed by all levels of government. Indeed, how well the City's economy will perform will depend on international, national, and industry-specific developments, of course. But it will also depend on the City's leadership. A Mayor must engender confidence that lower Manhattan will be rebuilt quickly, and that all steps will be taken to preserve the business and talent that existed in New York City on September 11.

The task before us is enormous, and attempting to put forth a detailed plan about exactly how we will rebuild New York at this time is both presumptuous and nał˝ve because it fails to recognize that the government's initial role in this process is to provide a platform for experts to identify and resolve the many and varied issues presented by this challenge and because it assumes that a candidate for Mayor can, and should, resolve all those issues.

What a candidate for Mayor can do is articulate a vision, and present the framework and process by which we identify and resolve the issues needed to be resolved to attain our goals. That is what is done here.

Shortly after Election Day in November, I will convene a blue ribbon panel to devise the framework to address the recovery, rebuilding and economic implications of the disaster and guide the rebuilding process. I will propose creating a public benefit corporation, The New York Rebuilds Corporation, with extraordinary powers to deal with this unprecedented crisis. The New York Rebuilds Corporation will be a one-stop shopping source with significant financial resources, condemnation authority, and the power to resolve all land use issues and issue all necessary permits so construction can be commenced as soon as possible.

Our goal is to ensure that New York City retains the business and talent that flourished here on the morning of September 11. To do so, we will begin construction of lost office space immediately, and complete construction and rehabilitation of at least ten million square feet of office space within two years. The office space will include both back office space, which will be used in that function indefinitely, and prime office space, some of which will be converted to back office space as new prime space is built at the World Trade Center area. We must also address longer term objectives involving aspects of the City, including its transportation system, the need to decentralize office space, infrastructure, telecommunications, energy, and safety and security concerns.

Long Term Goals

From this tragedy, we have the opportunity to fundamentally shape the future of New York City. We must address key issues.

Transportation. A portion of the proceeds available from the state and federal government should be used to improve our mass transportation system, as well as our systems for transporting goods. Given the strains the attack put on the entire region that are being shouldered primarily by New York City, the time is appropriate to pursue regional payments, such as re-instituting the commuter tax and dedicating its revenue to the transportation needs of commuters in the City. Security concerns must cause us to rethink how trucking is conducted in New York City. To reduce the need for thousands of truck trips a day into and out of the City, we must rely on rail freight more as a way to transport goods. Therefore, designing, funding, and building a rail freight tunnel should be given a high priority. This was, after all, the founding mission of the Port Authority when it was created in 1921. Other large projects deserve our renewed attention and vigor, like the Second Avenue subway, east side access for LIRR trains, and extending the #7 subway line to the west side. Innovative suggestions like extending Metro-North trains south of Grand Central Terminal to downtown, and extending the LIRR line from Flatbush under the East River should be seriously evaluated. Policies should be implemented that will further facilitate the movement of buses in Manhattan. Reducing private car traffic in Manhattan has many positive aspects, from enviro! nmental to urban planning, in addition to security. Making permanent the recent ban on single occupant passenger cars from much of Manhattan should be considered. We should also return to the City's roots as a city on a harbor with extensive ferry service.

Decentralization. While lower Manhattan must be rebuilt to have a critical mass of finance and related industries, this is an opportunity to pursue much needed development opportunities in the City outside lower Manhattan, including the other four boroughs. Therefore, incentives in the form of direct subsidies or tax abatements should be put in place to build in areas outside lower Manhattan, including the boroughs outside Manhattan. The first priority should be to identify already existing buildings that simply need to be rehabilitated and modernized to provide prime office space almost immediately. The recent re-zoning of Long Island City provides an excellent opportunity to develop and decentralize. Downtown Brookly! n, the Hub in the Bronx, and Stapleton in Staten Island are other candidates. The "Commercial Development Strategy for New York City" developed by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer's Group of 35 provides one important development strategy to follow. This time also offers us a renewed opportunity to consider developing Governor's Island in a way that is environmentally sound.

Safety and Security. The panel will address safety and security needs of the City in light of the President's declared War on Terrorism. The panel will advise on the nature and location of command and control center(s) in the event of a disaster, natural or manmade. It will consider ways to increase everybody's personal sense of security without curtailing civil liberties. It will recommend ways to improve coordination among local, state, and federal authorities. It will advise on how the NYPD and FDNY can best contribute to the safety and security of the City given the new realities of the world. It will assess potential targets ! of terrorist attacks, our water system for example, and recommend how they can be strengthened, defended, and repaired in the event of a successful attack. It will evaluate the public health system's readiness to deal with the variety of issues that may be presented to it.

Telecommunications. The panel will assess our telecommunications infrastructure and advise how it can be defended, whether it needs to be further decentralized, and whether and how redundancies can be built into it so that an attack at one point will not disable vast swaths of the system.

Energy. Power plants must also be decentralized, in part to defend them from attack. However, we must find a way to decentralize our sources of power generation and transmission lines so that they will not eviscerate or place undue burdens on particular neighborhoods.

Planning Framework

a. A blue ribbon panel, chaired by the Mayor-elect, will convene shortly after Election Day to devise a blueprint for the real estate revitalization and economic recovery of New York City.

b. The panel will be comprised of leaders in the real estate, insurance, finance, and construction industries, as well as labor leaders. It will include representatives from all affected governmental units, including the City, state, and federal governments, and the Port Authority and MTA. It will also include leaders of the businesses that were housed in the World Trade Center, as well as institutional leaders in lower Manhattan (e.g. Downtown Alliance, the New York Federal Reserve, NYSE, NASDAQ, COMEX, etc.). We would expect that private industry would be prepared to make both immediate and generational commitments to New York City during th! is process.

c. The panel's mission is to report on what will be required to rebuild and revitalize the City by February 1, 2002.

d. The Panel will consider organize into task forces to assess and resolve all issues arising from the terrorist attack and the War on Terrorism, including:

  1. Identifying businesses and industries in need of assistance, and the best means to provide that assistance as quickly as possible.
  2. Assessing the economic impact, both direct and indirect, of the attack.
  3. Assess safety and security issues.
  4. The Panel will assess the City's use of its own office space and determine whether any of it can be leased to the private sector.
  5. Build prime and back office space immediately.
  6. Assess infrastructure needs, including transportation, telecommunications, and energy.
  7. Sources and uses of funding.
  8. What the public sector can do to speed the process, and whether there are existing agencies that can be used, whether their powers need to be augmented by legislation, or whether regulations need to be modified to expedite the reconstruction, or whether new governmental entities need to be created with sufficient powers to accomplish the task at hand.
  9. Whether building code, land use, permitting or environmental laws and regulations need amending.

Rebuilding Effort

The New York Rebuilds Corporation. The NYRC will plan, guide and be responsible for issuing all necessary permits for construction and resolving all zoning and other land use issues. It will be empowered to shorten the time for environmental review. It will have broad powers of condemnation and financing.

Short Term Goals

i. Construct or rehabilitate 10 million square feet of office space within two years.

ii. Provide "one stop shopping" to obtain financing, permitting, and all other needs to develop office space outside lower Manhattan.

iii. Assist the Port Authority and long-term lessee in rebuilding WTC site so that const ruction is completed within 4 years.

iv. Assess and address the collateral damage caused by the terrorist attack (e.g. Tourism, airport related industries, theater, restaurants, cultural institutions, etc.) and devise means to address the impact on affected businesses and industries.

Financing. While the total dollar amount of the damage remains unknown, what needs to be done is not. We need to (1) repair the direct damage from the attack, (2) construct millions of square feet of office space almost immediately, and (3) remodel the City to be configured for the 21st Century. New York City, even with the help of New York State, cannot do this alone. Because we suffered the first casualties in the War against America, America will help us. The federal government has agreed to pay the costs of clearing the World Trade Center site. We will also ask that it work with the Port Authority and provide substan! tial assistance to construct the rail freight tunnel. The commuter tax should be dedicated to funding the Second Avenue subway and decentralizing and improving the mass transportation system. The City and State will shoulder principal responsibility, in conjunction with the private sector, for funding costs to build the office space that is needed immediately. The Port Authority will bear primary responsibility for rebuilding its property at the World Trade Center.

Site Recovery Commission The parties involved will be those currently involved at the site: police, fire, construction and engineering trades, the Port Authority, and the MTA. Its mission is to remove debris, stabilize the site, and prepare for construction. It will also shore up infrastructure in the area. Work to be completed within one year.

The Memorial. We will build an appropriate memorial. Its ultimate design and scope should be the product of a civic discussion involving all interested parties, including survivors, victims' families and employers, residents, and the entire City. A competition should be established for the most appropriate design and location of the memorial.

I have shown this agenda for rebuilding New York City to some leaders in the usiness community, and their response has been very positive. Our goal is to restore confidence in New York City as a global marketplace and the world's destination.

Clearly, we have a monumental task on our hands. Until now, no Mayor has ever confronted a disaster of this size. And it will require us to rethink the financing of some of our investment priorities - the most obvious example being the re-working of our housing production plan, which in part relied upon funds from the sale of the World Trade Center.

But while our city is faced with the new, urgent priority of rebuilding our city, anyone who says that this would be their only priority fails to understand the full dimensions of the job.

While it's critical to rebuild our financial center, it's equally critical to rebuild our schools. While it's essential to house the businesses and residents displaced by the events of the past few weeks, it's equally important to house the working families of New York struggling to find an adequate and affordable place to live. While it is vital that we protect ourselves against the threats of terrorism, it's equally vital that we protect our children from the everyday threats on the streets of our city with more after-school programs. The towers of the World Trade Center have crumbled, but our commitments have not, and these will all be priorities for me as Mayor.

Working together - business and labor, civic leaders and academics, and representatives from the federal, state, and city governments - we WILL rebuild New York City - and build a brighter future for working families in every borough.

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
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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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