By Frank Quinn
A recent article in the NY Post said even at this late date 25% of NYC Democrats are still undecided about who they want to be the next mayor. When the Publisher at WestView News admonished us that our readers didn’t know enough about the candidates, it was challenging even though this writer tries to stay informed about local elections. There are five major offices up for election in our neighborhood with numerous candidates seeking those offices.
First let’s address the elephant in the city—this election is effectively a one-party contest and the Democratic primary will decide who takes these offices. No citizen who values democracy is well served by this situation. One party rule breeds contempt, like we saw last November when longtime Democratic Assemblymember Deborah Glick snubbed her constituents by refusing our offer to arrange a debate with her moderate well-qualified Republican challenger. What a shame!
There’s a delicate balance reporting only what you know, being fair to all the competitors, and offering advice without venturing into unsolicited opinion. To develop trust with our readers we try to provide information relevant to them as voters. What follows should give some direction on the major party candidates.
City Council District 3
This office provides citizens the most direct access to their local government, and WestView News has done a lot to help its readers with this decision. The candidate you choose will be your local representative in the municipal legislature, which is separate from the Mayor’s administration but an equal partner in how our City is run. There are six candidates running in District 3, and WestView News interviewed all of them in short-format videos designed to make it easy for voters to review. Please visit our YouTube channel or search “District 3” at westviewnews.org to see the interviews.
As of this writing there are eight Democratic and two Republican candidates in this race. Most polls indicate Andrew Yang is the frontrunner, but his lead is considered fragile due to the large number of undecided voters. It’s also possible another candidate could surge ahead if others drop out. There are logical choices for almost every type of voter, including career politicians with political experience (Scott Stringer, Eric Adams), those with strong progressive ideology (Maya Wiley, Dianne Morales), those who’ve run large government organizations (Kathryn Garcia, Shaun Donovan) and those from the private sector (Ray McGuire and Yang). The two Republican candidates (Curtis Sliwa and Fernando Mateo) are not expected to present meaningful competition in the general election but could provide an interesting debate this fall.
Manhattan Borough President
This office isn’t well understood by most voters. Originally created in 1898 as part of the consolidation of New York City, today this office is primarily advisory. It’s often seen as a stepping-stone for career minded public officials; indeed, two of the leading mayoral candidates served as borough presidents. There are seven declared Democratic candidates—three are well known term-limited pols, while the remaining four are lesser-known individuals. For more information you can review the Wikipedia article “2021 New York City Borough President Elections” but gathering information on these candidates requires some effort.
This office is the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Auditor for the City. The office has a staff of 800 and a budget of over $100 Million. There are seven Democratic candidates who are considered the “major candidates” because they previously held a public office, showed up in a poll or received some kind of media coverage. This race also requires effort to gather information for your choice, but you can start with the Wikipedia article “2021 New York City Comptroller election.”
This race has proven the most difficult to study. There are eight candidates running, but unlike the other municipal races this office is not term-limited and rank choice voting will not be used. Most of the debate between the candidates has focused on criminal justice reform with some candidates offering more progressive agendas than others. Another big issue for this office is how it will take over the Trump investigation currently underway by the incumbent Cyrus Vance who is not seeking re-election. Perhaps the best way to inform yourself is to search the internet and take time to watch one of the forums where these candidates have appeared.
Frank Quinn is a media executive, parent and musician. Linkedin.com/in/frankjquinn