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On Tuesday, March 24th, New Yorkers will vote in the Special Election for Queens Borough President. To help voters prepare for the upcoming election, we bring you our 2020 Special Election Voters Directory. The Voters Directory provides a description of each candidate evaluated by Citizens Union’s Local Candidates Committee, their responses to Citizens Union’s good government questionnaire, and information about the rigorous evaluation process and assessments of candidates.
New York City Special Elections are nonpartisan, meaning you do not need to be registered with a political party to cast a ballot. For more information about the Special Election, visit the NYC Board of Elections website at http://vote.nyc.ny.us or call (866) VOTE-NYC.
In this election cycle, Citizens Union has evaluated 5 out of 6 candidates running to fill the Queens Borough President’s Office after the seat was vacated by Melinda Katz when she became the Queens District Attorney in January. Interview teams made up of Local Candidates Committee members assess the candidates based on their responses to CU’s questionnaire (a prerequisite for interviews), research, first-hand knowledge of the candidates, and interviews with the candidates, which are approximately 30 minutes each. The interview teams then make advisory recommendations to the full Local Candidates Committee, which deliberates and makes recommendations to the Citizens Union Board, which makes the final decision. An “Endorsed” rating reflects a candidate that Citizens Union deems not only qualified for the office with a viable candidacy, but also committed to an agenda of positive reform. Please note that candidates not endorsed may nevertheless be highly regarded, which is generally reflected in the commentary. Citizens Union issues a “Preferred” rating in primary elections, and an “Endorsed” rating for Special and General Election contests. A “No Endorsement” rating may result when there is insufficient information available, it is believed that the candidates are of equal merit, or if no candidate interviewed by Citizens Union is believed to be effective or capable of representing the district.
The Borough President essentially serves as the head of each of New York City’s five boroughs. According to the City Charter, the Borough Presidents major responsibilities are to:
- Make appointments for community boards
- Make recommendations to the mayor and to other city officials in the interests of the people of the borough.
- Have power to hold public hearings on matters of public interest.
- Have power to recommend capital projects.
The Borough President may conduct hearings, issue reports and make recommendations with regard to the Borough Presidents responsibilities. S/he has the authority to appoint members to various city entities, including local community boards, and also serves on a number of bodies.
Below are descriptions of each candidate Citizens Union interviewed. As a preliminary manner, we note that generally the candidates favored stronger authority for the Borough President, including a seat on the MTA board, revitalized transportation, and more funding from the city for the borough. As these views were so frequently expressed, we did not identify those issues in each write-up.
Donovan Richards | ★ Preferred Candidate ★
REGISTERING TO VOTE
You are eligible to vote in municipal, federal and state elections if you are:
- 18 years of age (on the date of the election. You can register at 17 if you will be 18 before the election – Send your voter registration card in the year you turn 18 and it will be filed on your 18th birthday);
- United States citizen; AND
- Registered to vote 25 days before the election.
In Special Elections ANY registered voter may participate, and New York City will be assigning residents to voting locations.
VOTING ON ELECTION DAY
The Special Election will be held on Tuesday, March 24th. Polls will be open from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. If you have general questions regarding eligibility or the location of your polling place, please call 1-866-VOTE-NYC. You can also locate your polling place online, including handicap entrances, at https://nyc.pollsitelocator.com/search
Under federal law, if you are disabled and choose to vote in person rather than by absentee ballot, you are entitled to assistance. You can rely on the election employees for help. At the polls, if you are not on the voter registration list, it may be because your registration form was not received in time or was filled out incorrectly. If you believe that you are eligible to vote, you can still vote by requesting an affidavit ballot. After the election, the Board of Elections will check its records and your vote will be counted if you are indeed eligible.