The Race for Mayor

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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?


Alan Hevesi's answers to questions about children's issues

1. Child Welfare:

Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta has indicated that he would like to continue as head of the Administration for Children's Services - but only if he has the trust and support of the new mayor that he currently enjoys. He views his cabinet-level access to the mayor - which includes participation in the mayor's daily 8:00 a.m. meeting - as crucial and argues that ACS must be given permanent status under the city charter, separate from HRA.

Q: Will you ask Scoppetta to stay on to head ACS?

Q: Do you support Intro 770, the city council bill that would establish ACS as a permanent agency under the city charter?

Nick Scoppetta has made enormous strides in improving the lives of at-risk children in New York City. His dedication and know-how have enabled him to implement changes in the child welfare system that will last well beyond his tenure. Nick has earned the respect of all the stakeholders in the field of child welfare and has worked hard to make reforming the child welfare system a cooperative effort.

My office has a longstanding, positive working relationship with Nick. We have worked together -sometimes publicly and sometimes behind the scene - to improve the child welfare system. For example, he endorsed the report of the Comptroller's Task Force on Foster Care Outcomes and Performance Standards, which served as the basis for ACS' improved evaluation system. Nick committed himself to working with my office by designating Joe Cardieri, ACS1 General Counsel, co-chair of the Comptroller's Task Force on Adoption Options. We have been working together with ACS to facilitate open adoptions when appropriate. And, we had a conference on practice issues in July 1999 and have drafted legislation to address ambiguities in the current law. While we clearly have worked closely together, I am not going to make any personnel decisions before I am elected.

I believe that the creation of ACS as a separate agency has enhanced Nick Scoppetta's ability to implement reforms. Its separate status reflects the importance we place on its mission of keeping children safe. I do not believe that returning ACS to the Human Resource Administration would benefit the child welfare system or the children and families it serves. When elected Mayor, I will appoint a Deputy Mayor for Children and Families that would be charged with developing a comprehensive children's policy for the City of New York. This Deputy Mayor would coordinate the work of all public agencies that are presently involved in early care and education and children's services across the city.

The city provides subsidized childcare for roughly 100,000 low-income children. Many people say a crisis in supply remains, even though there has been a significant expansion of funding: there are still 38,000 children on the city's waiting list and 38,000 children in temporary, informal, care subsidized by HRA's Office of Employment Services. There are also tens of thousands of low-income children in families that earn too much to qualify for child care subsidies and too little to pay for adequate child care.

Q: Will your administration increase capacity in regulated care and/or in informal care? Do you envision changing the current configuration of slots among the different types of care?

Knowing what we do about the importance of early childhood development, I believe strongly that childcare, especially for pre-school children, must be of the highest quality. I have long been an advocate for increasing funding for childcare and continue to believe that we should devote more resources to our youngest children. I would like to see more children in regulated child care settings and would encourage the development of more center-based programs and supervised family day care programs, possibly through family day care networks. I believe that informal care is a last resort and meaningful alternatives should be available to working families. I find it especially problematic that the current system differentiates between children of working mothers and those of public assistance recipients--with HRA encouraging public assistance recipients toward the less costly informal care.

Funding for childcare should be increased both in terms of operating and capital expenditures. If we are to provide access to quality childcare for low-income families, many more centers must be established. We need to be creative in accessing funds from a variety of sources to maximize opportunities for the City's children. For example, as Comptroller, I started an innovative program that used the City's pension funds to finance the construction of new childcare centers.

Not only would I like to see an increase in the participation of eligible children in quality child care programs, but I would also like to expand the eligibility standards to reflect the economic realities of life in New York City. However, simply broadening the eligible population without a substantial increase in the number of day care slots would not benefit New York City children and families.

Welfare Reform I:

Since April 1996 the number of welfare recipients in New York City has fallen dramatically, from 1,022,000 to 512,031.

Q: In 1998, the Giuliani administration began converting welfare offices into Job Centers, which incorporate job readiness activities into the application for welfare benefits. What will become of the Job Centers under your administration and the policies they enforce such as the fraud detection initiatives and the penalties for non-compliance with program components?

The goal of public assistance is to keep the welfare rolls low not only with good statistics but by actually making people self-sufficient. We need to emphasize job training, education, and finding meaningful, long-term employment for welfare recipients. Workfare should be a temporary job-training program that moves people from welfare to work and provides real job skills and education.

As mayor, I will work to ensure that as people move off welfare, we provide the training and education needed to secure long-term, decent paying jobs. One initiative I have proposed is the creation of 200 storefront computer training centers, which would allow New Yorkers without an extensive educational background to learn basic computer skills, and would provide access to the Internet for activities like job searches and resume writing.

Welfare Reform II:

On Dec. 31, 2001, tens of thousands of New Yorkers will reach the five year lifetime limit on federal welfare benefits. There is not an agreement on the number of people who will actually reach the limit that day. Jason Turner estimates the number to be 38,000 people; the Independent Budget Office, using state figures, estimates it to be 100,000. The program that will replace TANF for those recipients, the state's Safety Net program, appears to require an increased investment of city funds and a substantial bureaucratic operation.

Q: Will you have a system for delivering tens of thousands of new non-cash benefits in place on December 31st? Will you automatically enroll welfare leavers in the Safety Net program or enact the Giuliani administration's plan to encourage them to move toward self-sufficiency by requiring them to reapply for Safety Net benefits?

The fact that HRA does not know for certain how many TANF recipients are about to reach the five-year federal time limit is very problematic. How can HRA move its clients toward self-sufficiency without knowing who they are, let alone the services they need?

Due to the loss of Federal TANF funds, the City will need to substantial increase the amount of money we put toward public assistance. However, it is unclear how big a City operation this will require. A goal of any effective welfare policy, regardless of the basis for the client eligibility - either as TANF recipients or Safety Net recipients - would focus on the need of each individual client. Therefore, proper assessments, access to education and training programs, and work experience are all important elements to both the TANF and Safety Net systems.

Welfare recipients should be moved toward self-sufficiency but we should treat people with dignity. Part of the process of the safety net phase should be considering each case individually to make sure people have been provided with the necessary tools to move towards self-sufficiency.


Back to NYC Issues 2001: Children

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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
After printing and filling out the voter registration form, please send them by mail to:

Board of Elections
32 Broadway, 7th Floor
New York, NY

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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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