ON CAMPAIGN 2001:
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Recent Feature Stories:
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
What is Searchlight on Campaign 2001?
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?
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?
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
What does this have to do with this site?
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?
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?
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
Who are we?
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
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
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.
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:
Identifying businesses and industries
in need of assistance, and the best means to provide
that assistance as quickly as possible.
Assessing the economic impact, both
direct and indirect, of the attack.
- Assess safety and security issues.
- 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.
- Build prime and back office space immediately.
- Assess infrastructure needs, including transportation, telecommunications,
- Sources and uses of funding.
- 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.
- Whether building code, land use, permitting or environmental
laws and regulations need amending.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
for Party Affiliation
Dream Party (AMD)
Better Schools Party (BES)
Friends United Party (FUN)
Fusion Party (FUS)
Harmony Party (HAR)
Marijuana Reform Party (POT)
Natural Law Party (NLP)
Party of Ethics and Traditions (PET)
Reform Party (Ref)
Right to Life (RTL)
School Choice Party (Sch)
Socialist Workers Party (SWP)
Working Families (Wor)
1 -- Deadline for candidates to join the Campaign Finance
program, qualifying for the four-to-one match of contributions.
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
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
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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