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The Reformer


About Citizens Union and Citizens Union Foundation

Citizens Union of the City of New York is an independent, non-partisan force dedicated to promoting good government and political reform in the city and state of New York. For more than a century, Citizens Union has served as a watchdog for the public interest and an advocate for the common good. We work to ensure fair elections, clean campaigns, and open, effective government that is accountable to the citizens of New York. We do so by informing the policy debate and influencing the policy outcomes that affect the lives of all New Yorkers. Believing that an informed citizenry is the cornerstone of a thriving local democracy, Citizens Union Foundation – the non profit research, education, and advocacy organization affiliated with CU – publishes Gotham Gazette, a front row seat to New York City policies and politics.

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Welcome from Dick Dadey, Executive Director

Welcome to the October Issue of THE REFORMER, our e-newsletter for Citizens Union members and Citizens Union Foundation contributors. During the September Primary Election campaign, many of our preferred candidates featured Citizens Union’s preference prominently in their campaign materials, demonstrating their interest in associating themselves with good government efforts and political reform. With the Primary Elections behind us, the Local Candidates Committee has turned its attention to evaluating races in the General Election. You can expect to receive our press release detailing Citizens Union’s endorsements in these races later this month.

I want to extend an invitation to our Annual Awards Dinner on Tuesday, October 24th. Click here for the details and to purchase tickets. It will be a gala evening celebrating the leadership and contributions of four New York leaders: The Partnership for New York City, Elizabeth Stribling, former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone, Sr. and Richard Kahan. I hope you can join us.

Please enjoy this issue of The Reformer and learning more about our good government work.


City Updates

2006 Poll Worker Recruitment Concludes

CUF intern recruits poll workers at Brooklyn Bridge Park.

For the fourth year, Citizens Union Foundation has recruited New Yorkers to work at the polls on Election Day. This year we recruited 3,313 people, twice the number recruited last year and more than 10% of the 30,000 poll workers needed for a New York City election. As a small not-for-profit organization, we are proud to make a large contribution to ensuring New Yorkers can cast their votes at polling sites fully staffed by well-trained and informed poll workers.

We achieved these results by offering the only online venue for applications and effectively appealing to young people and bilingual New Yorkers through public services announcements, a news conference, online advertising and lots of direct community outreach across the city.

Through outreach to diverse communities, CUF recruited 579 Election Day language interpreters. We particularly targeted young people and succeeded in recruiting 1,326 people ages 18-24 years, a heralded accomplishment since the average age of U.S. poll workers is 72. Finally, our efforts reached across all five boroughs. The borough breakdown is: Brooklyn 1,178, Queens 797, Manhattan 661, Bronx 607, and in Staten Island 70 poll workers.

Most poll workers in New York and across the country are recruited by local political leaders and tied into the patronage system. Citizens Union supports the recruitment of non-partisan election day workers and has focused on reaching people outside the usual channels. Rather than wait for the State Board of Elections to change, we are demonstrating that non-partisan poll workers can be recruited easily and efficiently. Later this year, Citizens Union Foundation will again conduct a survey of Election Day workers recruited by our organization to ascertain their experience in being trained by and working for the Board of Elections.

This year Citizens Union’s Poll Worker Program is supported by the New York Community Trust, the Lily Auchincloss Foundation and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.


Redistricting Hearings

With few competitive elections for state legislature occurring in New York again this election season, redistricting—the decennial process by which congressional and legislative districts are redrawn to adjust for shifts in population so that political representation across the state and country is fairly distributed—is under increased scrutiny. The press, civic groups, gubernatorial candidates, some elected officials themselves, and New Yorkers who value their votes, want to see an Albany more responsive to the public interests and not just the special interests. Redistricting reform is an important element in accomplishing that goal.

Citizens Union has been at the forefront of this effort, and Albany is responding to our latest push for redistricting reform with bills in both houses and an opportunity for the public to become involved. The Assembly Committee on Governmental Operations and Legislative Task Force on Reapportionment are holding six hearings on redistricting to examine the current process and consider changes to the New York State system in order to better adhere to the requirements of the federal Voting Rights Act, United State Department of Justice rulings, and other federally mandated requirements.
Citizens Union plans to testify at the New York City hearing and bring in experts and advocates (from around the state and country) to add to the dialogue as we continue to push this critical reform issue.

For more information on this issue, click here to read a Gotham Gazette article on this issue.

Candidate Evaluation Updates

Candidate Evaluation for the General Elections

Members of Citizens Union’s Local Candidates Committee have been interviewing candidates for State Assembly, State Senate and statewide offices. Beginning this year for the General Election, Citizens Union will return to its past practice of endorsing candidates. As always, we will mail our 2006 General Election Voters Directory to all members in time for Election Day. You can also visit the Voters Directory section of our website to view the directory and read the candidate responses to Citizens Union candidate questionnaires in whole.


Primary Election Updates

For the Primary Elections Citizens Union Local Candidates Committee members interviewed 43 candidates and evaluated 19 races. The outcomes of those races break down as follows:

  • 10 Preferred candidates won their Primary Election contest
  • 3 Preferred candidates lost their Primary Election contest
  • 2 No preferences ssued
  • 2 Preferred candidates were ultimately kicked off the ballot, enabling the incumbents to win in uncontested elections
  • 2 Preferred candidates ultimately faced no challenger.
STATEWIDE OFFICES CU Preferred Candidate Outcome
Governor – Democratic Primary Eliot Spitzer WON
Attorney General – Democratic Primary Andrew Cuomo WON
Senate District 18 – Democratic Primary Velmanette Montgomery
WON re-election
Senate District 20 – Democratic Primary Eric Adams
WON an open seat
Senate District 21 – Democratic Primary Kevin Parker
WON re-election
Assembly District 43 – Democratic Primary Jesse Hamilton
Was thrown off the ballot and incumbent Karim Camera won an uncontested Election
Assembly District 46 – Democratic Primary Alec Brook-Krasny
WON open seat
Assembly District 55 – Democratic Primary William Boyland, Jr.
WON by default as his challengers were thrown off the ballot
Assembly District 57 – Democratic Primary Hakeem Jeffries
WON open seat
Assembly District 58 – Democratic Primary Wellington Sharpe
Was thrown off the ballot and incumbent Nick Perry won an uncontested election
Senate District 25* – Democratic Primary No Preference
Incumbent Senator Martin Connor Won
Senate District 30 – Democratic Primary Bill Perkins
WON by default as his challengers were thrown off the ballot
Assembly District 68 – Democratic Primary John Ruiz
LOST to incumbent Adam Clayton Powell won
Assembly District 72 – Democratic Primary Adriano Espaillat
WON re-election
Assembly District 74 – Democratic Primary Brian Kavanagh
WON by defeating incumbent Sylvia Friedman
Senate District 13 – Democratic Primary John Sabini
WON re-election
Assembly District 22 – Democratic Primary Terence Park
LOST open seat
Assembly District 25 – Democratic Primary No Preference
Challenger Lancman won, open seat
Staten Island
Senate District 24 – Republican Primary Robert Helbock LOST open seat
*District includes portions of Brooklyn and Manhattan
Many candidates preferred by Citizens Union again wrapped themselves in our support. Candidates used the Citizens Union Preferred Candidate star or our logo and quotes from our evaluations in their campaign literature and mailings to voters. This regard for our preferences demonstrates the importance candidates place on Citizens Union’s support and the sway they expect it to have with potential voters.

Who is Citizens Union?

Tracie Holder, Citizens Union Member, Member of the Municipal Affairs Committee and Local Candidates Committee

This is the fourth in a series of profiles of Citizens Union’s board of directors and members.

“I’ve never voted without reading the Citizens Union Voters Directory,” said Tracie Holder who started reading it when she was a high school intern in Carol Bellamy’s office. “My friends know that I follow local politics so they call me before they vote and I pass on Citizens Union’s evaluations and positions to them.”

Holder serves on the Citizens Union’s Municipal Affairs and the Local Candidates Committees, where she now has a hand in the Voters Directory process. “It is really an honor to be able to meet the candidates and to hear where they stand on the issues. I am consistently impressed with the extensive knowledge and preparation of the committee members and staff. They all bring a seriousness and commitment to participatory democracy to the candidate interviews and meetings; I always look forward to these meetings.”

In addition to volunteering for Citizens Union, Holder has made her career in the New York film and television industry as a writer/producer/director on numerous projects as well as working with the Human Rights Film Festival, Women Make Movies, Manhattan Neighborhood Network (local public access television) and others. She has worked on many local and state political campaigns. This year, in addition to working on her feature documentary, Joe Papp in Five Acts, she is a Coro Leadership Fellow, a program to develop New York civic leaders.



Annual Dinner

On Tuesday, October 24th, Citizens Union Annual Dinner will honor four great New York City leaders at the Waldorf=Astoria:

  • Partnership for New York City – Business Leadership Award
  • Elizabeth Stribling – Civic Leadership Award
  • Peter F. Vallone, Sr. – Public Service Award;
  • Richard Kahan – Robert F. Wagner Jr.

To purchase a table, tickets or make a contribution, please click here, or for more information, contact Sara Stuart.


Gotham Gazette News and Highlights

The Many Faces of Poverty
Now that the mayor has announced his plans for fighting poverty, an array of experts look at who the poor are in New York City and what can – and cannot – be done to help them.

Housing In New York City — Figuring Out The Big (And Little)
A spate of reports on the city’s housing details what most New Yorkers already know — but with some surprises and plenty of mysteries.

Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, Then and Now
Many worry that the impending sale of the huge developments on Manhattan’s East Side could cripple middle class housing in the city. But a comparison of the residents there in 1950 and now show may changes have already occurred.

9/11 Health: Help at Last?
After five years of inaction, everybody is suddenly talking about 9/11-related health problems. Can officials make up for lost time, or is this too little too late?


Join Citizens Union

With the General Elections next month, we ask our members and supporters to help spread the word about Citizens Union and our work. Click here to forward this newsletter to your friends and colleagues and encourage them to become members. Click here to join Citizens Union or renew your membership.


Citizens Union In the News

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