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?


My Action Plan to Unite and Rebuild New York

By Mark Green:

Some 6,000 New Yorkers are missing or dead. The jobs of 100,000 New Yorkers are at risk. And our City has gone from a projected budget surplus to predictions of multi-billion dollar deficits.

In the aftermath of this human tragedy, we must protect New Yorkers against new attacks by terrorists and confront the economic and fiscal crisis that threatens our city. We must provide safety and security and rebuild our city and economy. If we succeed, our City will be stronger than ever and well prepared to take on the challenge of fixing our schools as well.

Over the last three weeks, I've outlined my plans to improve safety and security in our city in the face of terrorist threats and rebuild our economy. Today, I am detailing my plans for seeking the type of federal assistance that is absolutely critical to this effort.

Taken together, this is a comprehensive plan to meet the crisis before us. In this time of peril, we need action not studies. We need to improve security, not just talk about it. And we need an approach to Washington that will redeem President Bush's promise to "rebuild New York City."

And we can't afford to wait until next February to start. Not when our safety is at stake. Not when with every day that passes more firms look to leave our city. Not when tens of thousands of New Yorkers employed three weeks ago face a future of uncertainty and despair.

Make no mistake. There is no precedent in the history of our city for the complex issues that we face today. But with leadership, we can overcome these challenges and turn this crisis into opportunity.

Here's my plan:

To Protect New Yorkers Against Terrorism

  • Increase police presence and electronic and human surveillance of public transportation. Strictly prohibit unauthorized personnel from schools. Require checks or random searches of large bags in museums, stadiums and theatres.
  • Improve security for electric grids, bridges and tunnels, the water supply, waterways and the harbor.
  • Increase personnel assigned to counter-terrorism and designate a coordinator of all anti-terrorism efforts in the NYPD.
  • Create a regional security working group to share intelligence.
  • Improve investigation and prosecution of money laundering.
  • Implement restrictions on trucks and automobiles in certain areas that could be the subject of terrorist threats.

To Rebuild Lower Manhattan

  • Create a City-State, private-public, business-labor authority to develop a comprehensive economic revitalization plan. This new super agency, the New York City Emergency Redevelopment Authority (NYC-ERA), would be accountable to the Mayor and Governor and empowered by the State Legislature to quickly, efficiently move the revitalization effort forward.
  • Immediately begin to provide temporary space for displaced firms and tax incentives and low cost financing for firms willing to stay and rebuild.
  • Work with Washington and Albany to designate Lower Manhattan a "new kind" of empowerment zone, providing as-of-right benefits to firms that remain or relocate to the area.

To Use Federal Aid to Rebuild the City Economy

  • Conduct a comprehensive needs assessment to fully assess not just the cost of recovery and clean up, but assistance for businesses and workers displaced, aid for victims and families, special assistance for firms and workers affected by tourism and air transportation job losses, repair costs, additional security costs and a comprehensive economic stimulus program.
  • Win additional emergency funding from the federal government and make New York's recovery a priority as federal agencies make discretionary grant decisions including:
    • Justice Department funding for crime control and Police Department anti-terrorism initiatives
    • Education Department funding for class size reduction and professional development
    • Transportation funding for economic stimulus projects like the Second Avenue Subway and the Cross Harbor Rail Freight Tunnel
    • Targeted Economic Development Administration funding for Lower Manhattan and other neighborhoods directly affected by the World Trade Center disaster
    • HUD funding for new housing initiatives
    • HHS funding create a seamless transition from federal welfare to State safety net programs
    • Labor Department funding for job training, workforce development and assistance to unemployed and dislocated workers


The number one goal of any mayor has always been public safety because without it not much else counts or works. That goal is now even more vital as the fact and threat of terrorism rises.

It's desirable and inevitable that officials review security measures in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attack to better protect our City in the future. As one who both believes that safety and security must be our top priority and who's been a life-long civil libertarian, I know that our city can have both civil order and civil rights, that we can be more secure without sacrificing our liberties.

Terrorism is a crime. And the NYPD has clearly and unequivocally proven that the police can have a powerful impact on crime with the right strategies. In the last decade of the 20th century, New York City confronted a crime crisis that spread fear and despair throughout our neighborhoods. Many thought that violent street crime had become a permanent part of this City. Under the leadership of Mayor Giuliani and Commissioner Bratton, the NYPD proved those skeptics wrong and restored a sense of safety that this City had not enjoyed for over thirty years.

In the first decade of this century we face another crisis, a crisis that also fosters fear and, if unchecked, despair. But if we are willing to engage in the same bold thinking that led to the reduction of violent crime, we can check the forces that would deprive us of our security.

Due to the innovative leadership of the Mayor and Jerry Hauer -- as the City's first head of the Office of Emergency Management -- New York was already better prepared than any other city to deal with the crisis that we now confront. But we need to do more. While no one can have definitive answers yet, it is clear that there are a

series of areas that we need to consider as we begin the task of re-orienting our police and emergency services in light of the threat of increased terrorism.

The singular theme that ties together all of these efforts -- "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."

Increasing Public Safety

Any plan to respond to terrorism must begin with efforts to increase the security of the public. We need to increase security at venues where the public has traditionally enjoyed unfettered access including subways and subway stations, railroads, major terminals, buses, stadiums, cultural institutions, schools, libraries and hospitals.

Increased security will require increased electronic and human surveillance of public transportation, more police presence, and the strict prohibition of unauthorized personnel from schools. Required checks or random searches of large bags in museums, stadiums and theatres, while inconvenient, may become necessary.

Additional security will also be necessary for electric grids, bridges and tunnels, the water supply, waterways and the harbor. Obviously, the FAA must reappraise and strengthen the lax system of airport screening.

The Police Commissioner must also consider and implement restrictions on trucks and automobiles in certain areas that could be the subject of terr orist threats.

Police Operations The NYPD will have to enhance its focus on counter-terrorism. Commissioner Kerik has already announced that more resources will be devoted to this effort. We need to build on this important and laudable first step. A new position should be created inside the NYPD to direct and coordinate anti-terrorism efforts. This position must have sufficient authority and resources to maximize the intelligence gathering capacity of the NYPD and the follow-up investigations that will be necessary. Additionally, the NYPD must make sure that information is shared with other relevant authorities and that all activities are conducted with a careful eye toward civil liberties.

One way to increase the amount of intelligence that we gather is to train all police officers to be sensitive to information that may be relevant to terrorist activity and make sure that the NYPD has a mechanism to centrally gather and review the information.

Because of the myriad of governmental policing bodies in the tri-state region, we should establish a regional security-working group to coordinate and share such important information.

Moreover, we need to attack cyber-terrorism and increase funding to investigate and prosecute money laundering. Terrorist activities require financial support. Disrupting the flow of funding would be an important tool in reducing the ability of terrorist to mount their operations.


CompStat -- with accurate and timely intelligence, rapid response, effective tactics and relentless assessment and follow up -- has been a very successful management tool for the NYPD's crime fighting efforts. A similar model can be used to combat terrorism.

The scope of the attack on the World Trade Center demonstrates the need to plan for attacks and disasters of any size. The City needs to identify and prepare for new threats. Repeated and large scale, multi-agency drills will have to become the norm. We can never be too prepared or over-anticipate the scope of a disaster.


New technology will be an important tool in the fight against terrorism. Beyond establishing secure, independent and protected telecommunication capacity for our police and emergency services, we must also take advantage of emerging technologies that permit equipment to "sniff" for the presence of bomb making materials or biological elements.

Guarding Against Bias Incidents

While reducing the risk of future terrorist attacks, let's also reach out and protect communities and individuals that might be the subject of retaliation. It is important that all New Yorkers focus on who the real enemy is and not subject followers of certain religions or individuals of certain ethnicities to harassment or worse.


September 11 changed our lives forever and will require new strategies and tactics in public security and policing. But we must also hold dear the rights that we have as Americans and guard against allowing the terrorist attack to succeed in restricting them. In much the same way that we can have reduced crime while respecting constitutional protections, we can take significant steps to reduce terrorism without trampling on the Constitution.

Just as the attack on the World Trade Center compels us to rebuild Downtown, it requires that we rethink security measures drafted in a more tranquil time. I know that New York and New Yorkers will again rise to the occasion and respond with the right mix of smart, innovative policies.


State-City "Emergency Redevelopment Authority"

The criminal attack on the World Trade Center has caused both a human and economic crisis for our city. This was an attack not just on the World Trade Center but on world trade itself - an attack apparently waged by people who reject the freedom and opportunities generated by the extraordinary marketplace of human creativity, energy and ingenuity known as New York.

Terrorists attacked New York City precisely because it represents the best of our nation and the free world. Therefore, our nation and allies must not allow these criminals to terrorize our City's ability to compete in and lead the global economy in the generation to come. For when New York City comes back, it will be a victory for America and the World.

Mayor Giuliani has done an extraordinary job in leading our city in these difficult times. He has embraced a city as it grieves and led a heroic effort to rescue the victims, comfort their families and begin to return our city to normalcy. He has earned the deep gratitude of every New Yorker.

Today, I want to outline my thoughts on what our city will have to do to return to normal . . . to rebuild Lower Manhattan, our economy and our confidence.

This unprecedented attack will require unprecedented emergency efforts to rebuild Downtown and preserve its strength as a center of commerce as a residential community for thousands of New Yorkers. In recent years, the extraordinary vitality of our city and regional economy has been fueled by the so-called FIRE sector - finance, insurance and real estate. And all three components of the FIRE sector have been directly assaulted by the terrorist attack. Beyond the immeasurable human suffering there is an economic crisis, one that threatens our city with significant potential job losses, corporate flight, and reductions in tax revenue that may jeopardize our city's fiscal balance and our ability to make essential investments.

Surviving and surmounting this criminal attack with our economic strength intact will be a challenge. But if the last ten days have proven anything, it is that our City can and will respond to even the greatest challenges. Since September 11th, I've met and spoken with leaders of business and labor and elected officials at the local, state and federal level about the steps we must take to reconstruct our local economy.

Step one is a comprehensive plan for economic revitalization and a City-State, private-public, business-labor authority to execute the plan. Serious crises require serious solutions, and the City of New York cannot effectively address this crisis without massive federal and state aid and the emergency redevelopment powers that only state action can provide.

That's why I am today calling for the creation of a new State/City entity with the extraordinary powers that will be required to respond effectively to this extraordinary crisis -- one single, superagency that can transcend turf battles and cut red tape to get this job done quickly, efficiently and comprehensively.

The Mayor and the Governor should create a New York City Emergency Reconstruction Authority (NYC-ERA), empowered by the State Legislature to get projects done on time and in budget. NYC-ERA should have the power of eminent domain and the ability to override time-consuming land use rules. It should be able to contract for the best quality work and negotiate with labor and business to do so at the lowest cost. And while it should be open to the advice and recommendations of all interested parties, it must be clearly accountable to the Mayor and the Governor.

NYC-ERA must develop and implement a plan to retain those businesses that have been displaced or directly affected by the World Trade Center attack. We need to move quickly to provide interim temporary space to displaced firms, and then the City, State and Federal governments must provide tax incentives and low cost financing for public and private development for firms willing to stay and rebuild. And the City should also work with Washington and Albany to designate Lower Manhattan as a new kind of enterprise or empowerment zone, providing as-of-right benefits to firms that remain or relocate there.

The $20 billion in federal disaster relief assistance that Washington has already promised is only the beginning of what our City will need to recover from what the President has correctly called an act of war. Once the recovery and clean up is complete, we will redevelop and rebuild those blocks in and around the World Trade Center that were destroyed. We must complete on a fast track projects already in the pipeline that will generate growth for Lower Manhattan as well as pursue a series of housing, transportation and education projects that are vital to our City's economic competitiveness.

All of this will require the cooperation and assistance of many in and beyond our City, most notably the Governor and State Legislature, Congress and the President. We must transcend politics as usual. There is enough work for everyone.

Our City was targeted precisely because we are a symbol of Western freedom and prosperity, so the nation and the world look to us to rise from the ashes and prove that terrorism will fail. A City that built an Empire State Building in fourteen months during the Depression can and will renew and rebuild.


Terrorists attacked our nation on September 11th. They struck at our economic and cultural heart: New York City. They killed thousands of our most productive and creative citizens, law enforcement officials and rescue workers. They temporarily closed the City's theaters, schools, tunnels and bridges to the outside world. Terrorists attacked New York City precisely because we represent the best of our nation and the free world.

For our nation to heal, we must not only provide support and prayers for victims and their families, clean up and rebuild our financial district, our downtown neighborhoods, subway system and streets, but we also must restore New York City to its full glory as a vital international center for business, culture, humanities, science, medicine, and the arts.

But New York City cannot do this alone. The rescue and recovery operation at the World Trade Center, the rebuilding of vital transportation and other infrastructure, necessary assistance to victims and families, displaced businesses and displaced workers will total as much as $60 billion. But real recovery will require more. It will require unprecedented investment to rebuild stimulate our local economy.

New York needs federal funding to pursue the most aggressive building program since the Great Depression. Investment will create immediate jobs in construction. And it will create long term economic competitiveness.

Just two weeks ago, President Bush told the nation and the world, that "as a symbol of America's resolve" his Administration would "show the world that we will rebuild New York City." That pledge offers our City and all New Yorkers a unique opportunity for real partnership with Washington to remake our city as the world's capitol.

To be blunt, New York's recovery will depend on sustained and massive federal assistance.

Step 1: Conduct a Comprehensive Needs Assessment

As Mayor, I would continue the efforts of the City and State to develop a comprehensive needs assessment to use in our effort to win federal aid. We are beginning to understand some of the costs. Just cleaning up the estimated 1.2 million tons of rubble left by the destruction of the World Trade Center is expected to take up to a year and cost $7 billion.

But economic recovery will require more than just site clean up. There needs to be a bi-partisan, State-City effort to develop a plan and assess the cost of:

  • Assistance for businesses and workers displaced by the collapse of the World Trade Center;
  • Aid for victims and families;
  • Assistance for businesses and workers displaced as a result of significant downturns in tourism and air travel;
  • Infrastructure repair costs;
  • Additional security and emergency response system costs;
  • Counseling and other mental health related services;
  • Economic stimulus initiatives to retain and create new jobs.
  • Lost revenues for the City.

Step 2: Win Additional Emergency Funding from Congress

President Bush and the Congress have acted quickly to make emergency funding available to help New York handle this disaster. Using special emergency authority under the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985, Congress quickly passed a law that provides $20 billion now, and promises $20 billion later to pay for disaster relief.

While New York City needs and will receive a sizeable share of this federal assistance, it will have to compete with many agencies in the federal government and many other local entities that also need emergency funds -- to strengthen our nation's intelligence and security, investigate the terrorist incidents, rebuild the Pentagon, and toughen the security at our nation's airports and ports. The $40 billion emergency funding provided by Congress is intended to support the full range of federal, state and local recovery, security and rebuilding efforts not only in New York, but also in Virginia, Pennsylvania and across the nation. Without a sustained effort, there is no guarantee that funds that should go to New York, will go to New York.

The comprehensive needs assessment will bolster the City's case for federal aid. So will a demonstration that the City and State intend to cooperate rather than squabble over the distribution of funds and that federal funds will be well spent. That's one reason that we need to create a City-State, private-public, business-labor authority New York City Emergency Redevelopment Authority (NYC-ERA), empowered by the State Legislature to get projects done on time and on budget and clearly accountable to the Mayor and Governor. All federal funding for economic revitalization in New York City should be coordinated through this new authority.

Step 3: Make New York's Recovery a Priority for Every Federal Agency

Every year, federal agencies provide billions of dollars in grants to state and local governments and to private institutions to support programs from community policing, new highways, and welfare reform measures, to arts and humanities, school construction and scientific research. Often, it is the agency head or another executive branch official, who can decide how to allocate a sizeable portion of these funds. Now more than ever, New York City must take full advantage of this funding -- especially where the federal agency has some discretion in setting its spending priorities.

As Mayor, I would seek a commitment from the White House that makes New York City a priority when it comes to the distribution of funding from federal agencies. This would not require new federal funds. It would instead require the White House to commit its full support to the City's economic recovery through the following existing grant programs:

Helping Victims and Keeping our Neighborhoods Safe: The Department of Justice has over $4 billion in grant programs to support community crime control efforts nationwide. As Mayor, I would work with the Department's Office of Victims of Crime to ensure that it continues to provide substantial assistance to victims of the World Trade Center disaster. In addition, we would ask the COPS Office to provide new levels of funding to support local anti-terrorism plans and assist the Police Department's continuing efforts at crime control in neighborhoods throughout the city.

Educating Kids: The US Department of Education moved quickly to provide $4 million to New York City to support grief and trauma counseling and other services for students and teachers in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. President Bush's proposed budget for next year includes $44.5 billion in discretionary programs at the Department of Education. These higher levels of federal funding for primary, secondary and higher education and for other educational programs will be essential for our City as New York faces its own budget shortfalls as a result of the tragedy.

Repairing Our Streets, Subways and Transportation Systems: The Department of Transportation Federal Highway Trust Fund provides over $6 billion in funding to improve transit systems and an approximately $30 billion investment in our nation's highways. Not only do we need to rebuild transit infrastructure directly affected by the attack, but we need new investments to improve the City's economic competitiveness. As Mayor, I will seek additional funding for the Second Avenue Subway and the Cross Harbor Rail Freight Tunnel.

Redeveloping the Financial District and other Affected Areas: The Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration is, according to a statement by its Director, committed to supporting New York City recovery efforts. I will ask this agency to direct a portion of its approximately $350 million grant program toward our efforts to plan and rebuild the financial district in New York, and to assist us city-wide, as communities face the economic consequences of the attack in terms of loss of business and loss of jobs.

Keeping New York Businesses in Business in New York: One of the first tasks for the New York City Economic Redevelopment Authority, which I have proposed, must be to develop and implement a plan to work with those businesses that have been displaced or directly affected by the World Trade Center attack. We do not want these businesses to move out of the City. But if they are going to stay, they will need very quickly temporary space, tax incentives, low cost financing for public and private development, and, in the case of small businesses, truly workable loans from the Small Business Administration. As Mayor, I would pledge to work with Washington and Albany to designate Lower Manhattan as a new kind of enterprise or empowerment zone, providing as-of-right benefits to firms that remain or relocate there -- and to seek the federal funding and incentive packages that are targeted to these areas.

Neighborhood Rebuilding: The Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Community Development Block Grants Program (CDBG) provides approximately $10 billion dollars in funding on an annual basis to support community development efforts nationwide. I will ask that a portion of these funds -- beyond those to which the City would ordinarily be entitled -- be directed to our neighborhood rebuilding efforts. We will also look to HUD for financial help as we work to incorporate affordable housing needs into our rebuilding plans.

Aid for New York's Families: The Department of Health and Human Services has responded quickly to the attack on our City by providing mental health and public health assistance, and a range of other help for the City and for our victims. As Mayor, I would continue to work closely with the US Department of Health and Human Services to secure all available grants for health services and family assistance. I will work especially hard -- together with HHS -- to ensure the smooth operation and full funding of New York's Safety Net program, a program that is particularly significant in light of the September 11th disaster and the ripple effects it will have on needy families throughout our City.

Getting New Yorkers Back to Work: I will seek funding from the approximately $7 billion Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration programs. These funds include a specific allocation to assist unemployed and dislocated workers -- and to get them retrained and re-employed as quickly as possible.

Supporting Arts, Science and Culture in the City: As Mayor. I'll also work to secure funding from the National Endowments of the Arts and Humanities, and the National Institutes of Health for our City and for local artists, art organizations, musicians and writers because these cultural institutions have an important role to play in helping our City heal. We must also strengthen our academic institutions so that New York City continues to be a strong and important force for advancement in science, medicine, academia and the humanities. In addition, President Bush has proposed significant increases in funding for science and medical research in his FY 2002 budget proposal. New York should continue to be a hub for this scientific innovation.

Step 4: A Voice in Washington

This is a crucial time for our City. We are fortunate in New York to have exceptional representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives and in the Senate. They are forceful advocates for our City.

The City needs to makes its case loud and clear. Under a Green Administration, the Mayor will be the City's chief lobbyist in Congress. We'll work closely with the Congressional delegation, business and labor to mount a bipartisan and convincing campaign for federal assistance.


During the Great Depression, the partnership between Mayor LaGuardia and President Roosevelt lifted our city out of an economic crisis and built so much of the infrastructure that we see around us today.

In the 1970s, Congress's eventual willingness to provide loan guarantees to the City ultimately helped to stave off bankruptcy.

Our City again needs to again turn to Washington for help. The act of war against our nation was an act of war against our city. We already have the pledge of the President to rebuild our city. Under a Green Administration, we'll have a plan to get it done.

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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.

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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 - Rescheduled Primary
October 11 -- Runoff Democratic Primary election for mayor and for public advocate

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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