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City Council Race

The Brian Lehrer Show

The Latest in the Redistricting Battle

Monday, February 04, 2013

Since the most recent City Council redistricting proposal, negotiations have been taking place to further adjust the balance of power among New York City communities. In advance of Wednesday's public hearing, several experts weigh in on NYC's changing demographics and how redistricting will affect city council elections.

→ Hearing: This Wednesday, February 6th | New York Law School 6pm | More Information

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WNYC News

Council Set to Vote on Redistricting Map

Monday, November 19, 2012

The City Council is set to vote on a revised plan for redistricting that could change who will represent some neighborhoods in the city for at least the next decade.

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WNYC News

A Night of Upsets and New Faces in City Council Primary

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Yen Choe (R)

Yen Choe (R)

Bob Hennelly on the Council races:
Three Asian-American candidates won in last night's Democratic Primary.

Filling John Liu's seat in Flushing, Queens, is Yen Chou where she pulled ahead in a crowded field winning with ...

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WNYC News

Guide: City Council District 39

Monday, September 14, 2009

The 39th Council District stretches through Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Windsor Terrace, Gowanus and Boro Park.

Map of the district

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WNYC News

Candidates in Battle for Bill de Blasio's Open Seat

Monday, September 14, 2009

Council District 39 – the seat being vacated by Bill de Blasio – contains some of the city’s most fervent political activists. In a crowded field, two candidates are fighting hard to represent Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Kensington, and Boro Park. WNYC’s Kathleen Horan caught up with Brad Lander and Josh Skaller doing some last minute campaigning.

"Hi how are you? I'm Brad Lander and I'm running for City Council. Now we’re in the playground talking to parents about what issues they care about."

Candidate Brad Lander is in Kensington. He’s doubling up on events. While walking rescue dogs, he stops to give out ice pops to kids and campaign flyers to their parents.

"We’re out, we’re knocking on doors. We're in playgrounds. We’re at subways. The last few days before the election are when you really just try to be out everywhere all the time.”

Lander looks tan from all his time outdoors. His blue button down shirt is tucked in but the sleeves are rolled up. He goes up to a couple sitting on a bench near the handball courts.

“Any issues especially on your mind?”

It takes social worker Amanda Cicarelli and architect Eric Epstein a minute to open up, but they have plenty to say about everything from spotty train service in Windsor Terrace to high taxes.

And like many in this district, development.

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WNYC News

Eight in Race to Replace Ousted Councilman in Dominican District 10

Friday, September 11, 2009

by Marianne McCune
They say all politics are local. But in the northern tip of Manhattan, that may be more so. The 10th Council District includes much of Washington Heights, Inwood, and the Marble Hill section of the Bronx. There are eight City Council candidates vying to replace former Councilmember Miguel Martinez, whose seat is open because pleaded guilty to misusing taxpayer dollars and resigned. Now, as WNYC’s Marianne McCune reports, voters are looking for a candidate they know and trust.

This is the Dominican district.

MC for Dominican band: (IN SPANISH) You guys want Dominican music?!

Its perimeter was purposefully shaped to elect the first Dominican City Council member in 1991. Yes, there are others here - Puerto Ricans, African Americans and a handful of white people who aren’t Hispanic. But if there’s a street fair on Dyckman Street – you can be sure the band will play Merengue.

So when Dominican-born City Councilmember Miguel Martinez pleaded guilty to stealing more than $100,000 of public money and resigned, leaving his seat empty -- many here took it personally. As if Martinez was a nephew and what he did reflected badly on the whole family.

Polanco: No me enojo …

It’s sad, says Martin Polanco, but I’m not angry because we all make mistakes. A woman on another corner invokes the Bible, saying we’re all just fishermen and that hopefully Martinez will repent. Others worry all Dominicans will drop in the world’s esteem. And over an animated game of dominoes, Ramon Echevarria shakes his head disapprovingly, saying the Dominican community has to make sure it’s not seen as a jungle.Echevarria watching dominoes and talking politics.

Echevarria watching dominoes and talking politics.

Ramon Echevarria: … una jungla. Somos una communidad de avances.

And so, among the candidates for City Council, many here are looking for someone they can trust. And in the seemingly small town that is this neighborhood, someone they can trust often means someone they know – personally.

At a picnic celebrating the candidacy of community board chairman and teacher Manny Velasquez, Ana Julia Coronado says she’s voting for him because, as Dean at her son’s school, Manny helped turn her son around.Chickens and bunnies on asphalt.

Chickens and bunnies on asphalt.

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WNYC News

Guide: Council District 45, Brooklyn

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The 45th Council District covers Flatbush, East Flatbush and the Flatlands.

Map of the district

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WNYC News

Scandal Hovers Over Stewart in 45th District Race

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Kendall Stewart in the West Indies parade

Kendall Stewart in the West Indies parade

For the last eight years, the largely Caribbean neighborhood of East Flatbush has been represented by Councilmember Kendall Stewart. But the councilmember is fighting to keep his seat after two of his top aides were convicted of embezzling city funds.

It was only last June that Stewart found his office at the center of the City Council's so-called slush-fund scandal. Two aides pled guilty to stealing $145,000 that was supposed to go to non-profits. Stewart says he's innocent, but the issue has motivated some half dozen challengers to enter the race against him. Moderator Felicia Adams, the Editor of Carib World newspaper, raised it at a recent debate, co-sponsored by Whatz Up TV.

MODERATOR: Why should voters trust to send you back to City Hall for a 3rd term?

Stewart says it was his aides who were illegally diverting money from community-based organizations, or CBO's, without his knowledge.

STEWART: These members were not supposed to be involved with CBO's on the outside. And I know many people are involved with CBO's. You don't know what the executives are doing. You cannot really place that burden on the office.

Dexter McKenzie supporters in the West Indies parade

Dexter McKenzie supporters in the West Indies parade

Stewart has led the field in fundraising. His re-election campaign has raised some $65,000. Another candidate, college instructor Sam Taitt, has raised $43,000, while Dexter McKenzie, a physician has raised $49,000.

But in the last few days, one challenger has pulled even with Stewart. As of yesterday, Jumaane Williams had raised just $33 less than Stewart.

Unlike Stewart, who is a property owner with support from the real estate industry, Williams is a community organizer who's worked on affordable housing issues. He's also secured most of the big endorsements: from DC-37, 1199 and other powerful unions.

On a recent afternoon, he went door to door with an aide from the Working Families Party, trolling for votes.
Jumaane Williams

Jumaane Williams

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WNYC News

Asian Americans Vie for Seat of Trailblazer

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

In November, 2001, John Liu made New York City history by becoming the first Asian American to be elected to the City Council. Now, as Liu sets his eyes on the office of city comptroller, a handful of Asian-American candidates are hoping to follow his footsteps into politics.

Map of the district

John Liu has enjoyed significant popularity throughout his two terms as a councilman for the ethnically diverse District 20 that includes Flushing. And at a recent candidate forum attended by over a hundred people, John Choe reminded everyone of his ties to Liu.

CHOE: If you like John Liu, you will love John Choe. Who agrees that John Liu has done a great job as council member? Yes, because he does not think in the traditional term of what it means to be a council member.

Choe is Liu’s chief of staff, and he counts the incumbent’s accomplishments as also largely his own. The 39-year-old native of Korea entered the race at a relatively late stage and trails other candidates in fundraising. But he’s got the backing of Queens County leaders, as well as major labor unions including 1199. Like his current boss, Choe speaks eloquently of the issues facing the community, such as the need for support for downtown Flushing’s many immigrant business owners.

CHOE: We have to move the Small Business Solution center from Jamaica to Flushing. Or even create a new center here in Flushing. They have to speak Chinese, they have to speak Korean, they have to speak Spanish, all the languages that we speak here.

In a community as diverse as the 20th District, no candidate will be able to win next week's primary along racial lines. Political observers say the district's voters are made up of about one-third Asian-American, one-third white, and one-third black and Latino. Candidate S.J. Jung says what the community needs is unity.

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WNYC News

Guide: City Council District 20

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The 20th District covers Flushing, Queensboro Hill, Mitchell Gardens, Kissena Park, Harding Heights, Auburndale, and part of Whitestone.

Map of the district

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WNYC News

Queens Incumbent Fights to Keep Her Seat

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

District 25 in Queens is one of the most diverse places in the city. It includes parts of Jackson Heights, Corona, Elmhurst, and Rego Park. The three Democrats competing to represent the area are also diverse. Incumbent Helen Sears is a 79 year old former hospital administrator running for a third term. Her challengers are an openly gay school teacher with Irish roots who speaks fluent Spanish and a South Asian businessman who prides himself on being an immigrant success story. Incumbent Helen Sears campaigns at the 74th Street subway station in Jackson Heights. Council Speaker Chris Quinn and some South Asian business men joined her.

Incumbent Helen Sears campaigns at the 74th Street subway station in Jackson Heights. Council Speaker Chris Quinn and some South Asian business men joined her.

The subway station on 74th Street in Jackson Heights is the spot for campaigning in this district. Six different trains stop here, including the 7 train that roars above. During a recent evening rush hour a group of South Asian businessmen came to show their support for incumbent Helen Sears. Mahipal Singh, an attorney whose office is nearby, says Sears has always supported the local Merchants Association:

Singh: She’s always there for us whenever we call her. We want to meet her, we don’t have any hassles. She listens to us.

Singh credits Sears with re-naming 74th Street after Kalpana Chawla, a woman astronaut who died when the Space Shuttle Columbia crashed in 2003. Jusvendor Singh credits Sears with attempting to ease traffic congestion around his grocery story.

Singh: She try so many ways she changed the bus stop near my store and she put the parking meter for the customers.

While Sears is popular with these local businessmen, she’s not as popular with the street vendors who say she recently tried to put them out of business by backing an effort to create “Vendor Free Zones”. Sears says she’s meeting with the vendors this week

Sears: The fact is, we have the merchants, we have the community residents, and we have the vendors. And I’m going to see how everyone can assimilate and be able to have their space.

Stanley Kalathara is running to unseat incumbent City Councilwoman Helen Sears. He’s raised over $120,000 and says buying this bus ad was expensive but worth it. Kalathara is the least known of the three candidates running for this seat.

Stanley Kalathara is running to unseat incumbent City Councilwoman Helen Sears. He’s raised over $120,000 and says buying this bus ad was expensive but worth it. Kalathara is the least known of the three candidates running for this seat.

Stanley Kalathara, a lawyer and real estate broker is running against Sears and sympathizes with the vendors. He says it’s the economy that’s hurting local restaurants:

Kalathara: When you don’t make money as a restaurant owner, don’t blame the vendor only, c’mon.

Kalathara is unknown to the throngs of potential voters that he attempts to stop as they make their way to work.

Kalathara : Good morning mam nice to meet you. Good morning sir. I’m Stanley.

He often likes to remind people he’s an immigrant and that he worked his way up from busboy to restaurant owner, to real estate broker to attorney. He says he wants to help other immigrants advance like he did.

Improving the lives of immigrants was the focus of a recent debate in the district where a crowd of mostly Spanish speakers got a chance to question the candidates. One man asked what each of them would do to help immigrants who get arrested and then deported straight from Rikers Island before being found guilty of any crime. While none of the candidates answered the question directly, Daniel Dromm did get a good response when he acknowledged, in Spanish, that many teenagers in the neighborhood join gangs because there are no opportunities for them to do things like play sports.

Dromm: Hay muchas gangas. Y los ninos son miembros de gangas por un razon porque no tienen opportunidades para hacer cosas como jugar basketball , beisbol, y esto es muy importante.

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WNYC News

Council District 3: Christine Quinn

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

(William Alatriste)

(William Alatriste)

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn joined The Brian Lehrer Show recently to discuss her proposal to transfer market rate housing to affordable housing throughout the city.


Halted Development Map: Help pin-point more!

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WNYC News

Quinn Responds to 3rd Council District Challengers

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

quinn500Council Speaker Christine Quinn took a break from campaigning for re-election in the 3rd Council District race to sit down with reporter Kathleen Horan. WNYC extended the mic so Quinn could respond to the criticism leveled at her by challengers Maria Passannante–Derr and Yetta Kurland in the story below.

About the term limits controversy, Quinn says she was motivated to support it because of the recession:

“When I cast my vote to extend term limits from two terms to three last fall, I did that well aware that there were some New Yorkers who disagreed with that decision. But I did it then and believe in the decision now because at a time of tremendous economic upheaval like the one we’re in now I think New Yorkers have the right to have a choice when they go to the ballot booth in September and in November of whether they want to keep their same leaders, or bring in new ones…I think the choice and opportunity to have choice and true fiscal leadership is one that is right and fair to give New Yorkers now.”

And when candidate Passannante–Derr accused her of turning moderate after once being a reformer, Quinn says her record speaks for itself:

“I am extraordinarily proud of my record over the past 10 years, working on behalf of this district and behalf of the city. It is a progressive record, a record that’s been endorsed by Naral, by Planned Parenthood, by The League of Conservation Voters, by the Empire State Pride Agenda, by Citizen’s Union, some of the most progressive organizations in the city of New York. If you look at my record as someone who brought one of the toughest clinic access laws to NYC to make sure women can exercise their right to choose, I’ve drafted and passed legislation that brought equal rights to domestic partners – both straight and gay – as it relates to city services…I’ve passed legislation that has expanded tenants rights in the city of New York to a level never seen before. I think that’s one of the reasons I was endorsed by Tenant’s Pac…so people can say whatever they want about other people’s records, but when you look at the fact of my record, it is a very progressive and effective record, not just for this district but for the whole city.”

For more information about Quinn's position on the issues, visit her web site


Two Challengers to Quinn’s 3rd Council District Seat

Two of the democratic candidates in the City Council's 3rd District race, Yetta Kurland and Maria Passannante-Derr, decided to run before they thought they’d be challenging an incumbent. Now they’re stumping from Canal to West 55th Streets on Manhattan's West Side to get voters' attention before the primary, hoping to unseat none other than the speaker of the Council, Christine Quinn.

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WNYC News

Two Challengers to Quinn's 3rd Council District Seat

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Map of the district

WNYC’s Kathleen Horan has more on the two contenders:

Maria Passannante–Derr is handing out campaign flyers with volunteers on 9th Avenue in Hell's Kitchen during rush hour. The hot topic on the minds of many who stop to talk is term limits

“Voters tell me their vote was stolen and I agree with them. One of the things I will do if I am elected a council member is I will fight for a referendum because its not over yet. We could still have one.”

The repeal of term limits is personal as well. It allows Speaker Christine Quinn to run for a third term and makes Passannante-Derr’s bid for the seat feel a bit like a an uphill battle.

She says she wants to run because of her work on the community board and what she sees as a family tradition of public service.

She used the only debate (Sponsored by the Villager Newspaper) attended by Quinn last month to come out swinging.

“This election is about an arrogant incumbent–turned council into rubber stamp for a right wing Republican mayor.”

Passannante-Derr also had very harsh words for the speaker about her support of the repeal of term limits. She says that’s what the debate was for.

“It wasn’t a tea party. This was a time to discuss the issues, discuss them hard and hold the incumbent to her record."

She didn’t always feel this way about her opponent:

“When she first came in 10 years ago, she was a reformer. We were all pleased to see her as the first out lesbian to be speaker of the Council but now has that desire for higher office I think she has become more moderate for one thing and involved with the developers.”

She often finds herself explaining to voters who aren't really clued in about the race.

"How do you feel about Christine Quinn sheparding term limits through City Council?"

"I haven’t really followed her. I don’t really know that much about her. Just all of a sudden now before the primary there’s all these things for I don’t know what comptroller/D.A.. Hard decision when you have a lot of different candidates out there.”

She says sometimes it’s disappointing when she meets people who aren't yet focused on the primary but she refuses to be discouraged.

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WNYC News

Guide: City Council District 3, Manhattan

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

District 3 stretches from Canal to 55th Street and includes the neighborhoods of Greenwich Village, Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, as well as parts of the Flatiron District and Murray Hill.

Map of the district

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WNYC News

Seven Vying for Council Seat in Brownstone Brooklyn

Friday, September 04, 2009

No fewer than seven Democrats are running for an open City Council seat in Brooklyn. Its current occupant, David Yassky, is running for city comptroller. All the candidates are generally anti-development, which is the biggest issue in the area. So they are trying to distinguish themselves in other ways.

Map of District 33

The 33rd City Council district stretches from the shores of Greenpoint down through Williamsburg and into the heart of brownstone Brooklyn. Its voters turn out in relatively large numbers, even in off-presidential years.

WOMAN: Good Morning

SECOND WOMAN: Hi.

SIMON: Good morning.

The district's older residents are among the most politically active.

SIMON: There you go.

That's why Jo Anne Simon showed up outside the Cobble Hill Cinemas one morning for a special showing of a movie for seniors.

SIMON: Here's your ticket.

Simon got invited by the local assemblywoman, Joan Millman, who sponsored the movie. Millman was the one who discovered Simon when she was head of the Boerum Hilll Association years ago. Millman encouraged Simon to become the Democratic state committeewoman from the area, which she's been for the past five years.

SIMON: I you know have something of an advantage in that I know a lot of people anyway.

For her day job, Simon's a lawyer specializing in the rights of the disabled.

WOMAN: We hope you get in.

SIMON: Thank you.

WOMAN: We're going to do our best, you know.

She's raised more money than any other candidate in the race, most of it coming from voters inside the district.

SIMON: It's about time somebody from the neighborhoods got elected. You know, a lot of people run because they've been involved in politics or worked for a political official .

That's a dig at her two main rivals, Evan Thies and Steve Levin, who are still in their 20s. Simon is 56. She moved to Brooklyn in 1981, which is about when Thies and Levin were learning to walk and talk in New Hampshire and New Jersey, respectively.

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WNYC News

Guide: City Council District 33, Brooklyn

Friday, September 04, 2009

The 33rd District covers Greenpoint, parts of Williamsburg, Vinegar Hill, Dumbo, Brooklyn Heights, part of downtown Brooklyn, Boerum Hill, Gowanus and northern Park Slope.

Map of District 33

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WNYC News

19th Council Race Asks Who's More Local?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The candidates competing for the Democratic nomination in the 19th City Council district in Northeast Queens all want to be seen as good neighbors. But some claim they have stronger ties to the district than others.

Paul Vallone, in particular, has had to answer questions about his loyalty to the 19th. Vallone is the youngest son of former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone, who represented Astoria and was succeeded by his oldest son, Peter Jr. The family has a law firm in Astoria, too, where Paul Vallone works. And though Paul Vallone has lived in North Flushing since 1994, opponents Jerry Iannece and Steve Behar have seized on a news report that he didn't vote in the District until 2005. Iannece, who chairs Community Board 11, portrays Vallone as a newcomer who's never solved an issue or addressed a problem and refers to the Vallones as "Astoria people, not Bayside people."

Vallone dismisses that, saying "If there's an advantage coming from a family that has done nothing but community service I'll take that advantage. It truly is a blessing." He acknowledges he didn't get around to switching his voter registration from Astoria to North Flushing for several years. But he says he was preoccupied when his young daughter required serious surgery. He also claims his commitment to the district is evident in the work he's done with a variety of local civic groups.

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WNYC News

Democrats Wrestle for 19 Council Seat

Thursday, September 03, 2009

One of the most competitive City Council races is happening in Northeast Queens. Six Democrats are vying in this month’s primary – three of whom have significant money and big name endorsements. The 19th council district borders Nassau County and can seem a world apart from the more urban corners of the city. WNYC’s Beth Fertig has more.

The term “McMansion” typically applies to oversized homes that sprung up throughout suburbia in the housing boom. But it’s also a familiar phrase in Bayside, where City Council candidate Jerry Ianecce points to single family homes, most of which are modest in size.

IANNECE: Now you look at this small little house here which is appropriate for the location, look across the street from it. It’s covering virtually the entire lot.

REPORTER: It looks like a town house.

IANNECE: You would think it’s a multi-family but it’s a one family house.

Iannece explains how homeowners took advantage of loopholes in the zoning law to turn small lots into overgrown structures of four or five thousand square feet. He takes credit for helping the council pass a law limiting overdevelopment.

IANNECE: Basically I’ve been a council member without the pay.

As chairman of Community Board 11, Iannece claims he’s got the most experience of anyone running for the local council seat being vacated by mayoral candidate Tony Avella.

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