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Dog days of summer?  Not here!  We’re busy launching our newest initiative, the Civic Education and Engagement Project, which will identify best practices to get young adults civically engaged.  The goal is to have our findings impact programs and civic engagement efforts ahead of the 2021 citywide elections, which will usher in a nearly entirely new slate of city and borough-wide elected officials. It is a big election year and we hope to see a correspondingly big voter turnout.

But if you are looking for election excitement – beyond the unfortunate kind you are seeing with the Katz/Cabán race – then this year’s election may bring it with a series of important ballot proposals. You can read about all this and more below.


Policy Update

In November’s election New Yorkers will have the opportunity to reform the City Charter by voting on several important ballot proposals. These include a number of reforms Citizens Union has advocated for that will make our city elections more democratic and increase oversight of the police department.  

Ranked Choice Voting – In most contested primaries in New York City, the winning candidate receives less than 50% of the vote. Ranked choice voting would change that, ensuring that elected officials win with at least 50% of the vote, making them accountable to a broader base of New Yorkers. The cities that have implemented this system have seen an increase in voter turnout.
Here’s how it works: voters will be able to rank the candidates in order of their preference. If no candidate wins a majority of the vote on the first tally, then the candidate with the least number of votes is eliminated, with their votes going instantly to the candidate ranked second on each of those ballots. This continues until a candidate secures at least 50% of the vote. For more information check out this resource from Fair Vote.
Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) Reform – The CCRB is an independent agency tasked with oversight of the New York Police Department. This fall, New Yorkers will have the opportunity to strengthen the CCRB by voting on reforms that would give the agency subpoena power and the ability to investigate false statements made by police officers, as well as, requiring the Police Commissioner to provide an explanation when he or she deviates from the CCRB’s recommendations regarding the discipline of an officer.  
You can familiarize yourself with all five proposals that will be on the fall ballot here. We’ll be working hard over the coming months to educate New Yorkers about these proposals and to ensure we have a robust turnout on November 5th.


New Program:
Civic Education Project

This winter, with the support of the New York Community Trust, Citizens Union Foundation launched a new Civic Education and Engagement Project which will produce a first-of-its-kind scan of civic education programs in New York City schools. We aim to uncover the best practices to engage young people, evaluate the results and issue a report with our recommendations for strengthening or creating civic education programs that will be distributed city wide and beyond. The project is being conducted in partnership with Scholastic Magazine, and several other organizations, and is being led at Citizens Union by Ben Weinberg, our newest staff member.


Upcoming Events – Save the Date!

CU Annual Members Meeting – September 25th

Citizens Union annual Members Meeting will be held on September 25th at 6:00 PM. The members vote on board leadership for the coming year. In order to be eligible to attend and to vote, renew your membership (or join today!) HERE.

CU Annual Gotham Greats Dinner – October 24th

CU’s Annual Gotham Great’s Dinner will be held on Thursday, October 24th at the Pierre in New York City. Find out more about our honorees and purchase tickets HERE.


Citizens Union in the News

New York Daily News  7/10/19
Fix New York’s democracy now: don’t wait until after the Queens DA recount
New York Daily News  7/17/19
De Blasio’s presidential campaign raised a third of its money from donors with city business
Queens Daily Eagle  7/29/19
Election board’s unique make-up is grounded in state constitution

Albany Times-Union  7/31/19
Letter: New York’s census prep cannot wait

New York Times 8/5/19
Letter: Cuomo and Campaign Finance


Thank you to our supporters!

Heckscher Foundation supports Gotham Gazette Intern, Cyan Hunte

Cyan Hunte is one of Gotham Gazette’s many summer interns, here thanks to a generous grant from the Heckscher Foundation for Children. Cyan, who is from Brooklyn, is a rising sophomore at Bates College, majoring in Politics. Cyan believes that understanding our local political landscape is crucial, but that information is often inaccessible, something she is working to change. 

Cyan is interning with Gotham Gazette, but more specifically working on the Max & Murphy live weekly radio show that is a collaboration between Gotham Gazette and City Limits. She is learning about all elements of production including pre-and post production, as well as a great deal about New York City politics. She also has a byline at Gotham Gazette where she publishes summary stories of the shows she has worked to produce. It is all valuable experience that she can use in the future.

We are so grateful to the Heckscher Foundation for Children for making this internship possible for Cyan.



Learn More HERE. Join us and support our work with a donation HERE.  Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and like, comment and share our content!

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