Citizens Union (CU) is a nonpartisan democratic reform and good government group dedicated to making democracy work for all New Yorkers. For 125 years, Citizens Union has served as a civic watchdog, combating corruption and fighting for political reform. We work to ensure fair and open elections, honest and efficient government, and a civically engaged public. In keeping with our mission, CU aims to promote a competitive and diverse political culture, a fair and open political process, and accountable and responsible governance.
Since 1910, Citizens Union has evaluated candidates for elected office and backed those who strongly support and can advance our agenda for reform. In a transparent process conducted by CU members, candidates are assessed through a questionnaire, independent research, and interviews. CU publishes a Voters Directory before every election, with a nonpartisan evaluation of the candidates, and useful information for New Yorkers.
If you wish to be considered by Citizens Union for our designation of “Preferred Candidate” for the Primary Election or “Endorsed Candidate” for the General Election, you must complete the following questionnaire and be interviewed by our Local Candidates Committee. Submitting the questionnaire is a prerequisite for an interview. Interviews are prerequisites for Citizens Union endorsements and preferences.
Please see our candidate evaluation principles and criteria for more information about the process.
The questionnaire covers Citizens Union’s reform agenda on issues like elections and voting, campaign finance, oversight of City Hall, police accountability, City Council rules, and more. We also welcome any additional information such as a résumé, campaign brochure, or issue statements.
Clicking the following link will redirect you to an online form. If you cannot complete it in one sitting, you can click Save at the bottom of every page.
Citizens Union 2023 Candidate Questionnaire – New York City Council (Primary Election)
Can I get a copy of the full questionnaire before starting to fill it out?
Yes. You can also download a blank questionnaire here.
How do you decide your support for a candidate?
Support for Citizens Union’s reform agenda is the primary criterion used in deciding our support for a candidate.
Other criteria considered in evaluating candidates and campaigns:
- A record of ethical integrity
- Commitment and ability to advance CU’s goals, if elected
- For incumbents: demonstrated support for CU’s issues while in office
- Evidence of ability to wage an effective and competitive campaign
- Reliance on small-donor, local financing of the campaign
- Candidates’ grasp of issues specific to the race’s jurisdiction and whether they propose thoughtful solutions to represent constituents’ interests
Evaluation of the candidates and the decision to support a particular candidate shall be made without regard to political party and in a nonpartisan manner.
See more in our candidate evaluation principles and criteria.
Can I save my responses before submitting the questionnaire?
Yes. At the bottom of the online form, you may review your answers and then click PRINT to save your responses. Once you submit the questionnaire, you will receive a confirmation email. Citizens Union will not be able to see your answers unless you submit the form.
What happens after I submit my questionnaire?
To indicate your willingness to be interviewed, please mark the appropriate box on the questionnaire. CU prioritizes evaluating races that are most competitive and relevant to our reform agenda. Due to limited resources, not all races are evaluated, and CU reserves the right to evaluate races at the organization’s discretion. Please contact us if you wish to be interviewed.
Candidates will be interviewed by assigned members of the CU Local Candidates Committee (LCC). Generally, there will be at least three interviewing LCC members and a CU staff member present during the interview. Candidate interviews will last approximately thirty minutes. Interviews are currently held via Zoom.
Your responses to the candidate questionnaire will be included in our annual Voters Directory and made available on our website. Returning the questionnaire will allow us to inform New Yorkers about your positions on key issues affecting the city.
Levels of support for candidates
Citizens Union’s terminology for expressing its support for a candidate shall be to “prefer” a supported candidate in a party primary election, and to “endorse” a supported candidate in a general election. It is recognized that not all races will provide a clear-cut example of one candidate more closely aligned with CU’s agenda. In such instances, a finding of “No Preference” or “No Endorsement” may be issued. Likewise, a “Dual Preference” designation may be offered to two qualified candidates, but not a “Dual Endorsement” (in the General Election). A “Dual Preference” shall be used only as a last resort, and, in the case of such determination, CU shall explain its reasoning in its Voters Directory.
Can I see who you supported in the past?
Yes. You can see previous Voter Directories here. Beginning in 1910 and continuing today, Citizens Union has published a Voters Directory before every election. The Directory remains CU’s unique contribution to the voting public and has always been based on the premise that democracy depends on an informed electorate. Throughout the last century, a major portion of the time and energy of CU’s volunteers and staff is devoted to making sure that the Voters Directory has been fair and non-partisan. Over the years, we have supported and endorsed hundreds of candidates for office. We provide all candidates with the opportunity to present their case to our members, and conduct an open process that evaluates their policy plans and vision for the office, and is not beholden to any party power structure.
How can I contact you?
Due to current remote work conditions, the best way to contact us is by emailing [email protected].