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Dear Friend,

We all know that 2020 is a big election year, with New Yorkers heading to the polls to vote in a number of historic elections. But last month, the 2021 election was in the news, as Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., a perceived front-runner to be the next Mayor of New York City, announced he would not be running.

With all eyes focused on the 2020 election, it’s important for New Yorkers to remember that the 2021 election has the potential to transform New York City for generations to come. In 2021 we will elect a new Mayor, Comptroller, and at least 4 new Borough Presidents, and there will be unprecedented turnover at the City Council, too. It will also be the debut of Ranked Choice Voting in our city, which we’re pretty excited about.

Given the importance of these elections, and the sheer number of competitive races throughout the city, we will increase our efforts to engage and educate voters in all five boroughs. You’ll hear more about our plans for 2021 very soon.


Betsy Gotbaum

Executive Director, Citizens Union/Citizens Union Foundation



Policy Update

Queens Borough President Race

This March, voters in Queens will vote to elect their next Borough President. CU and members of CU’s Local Candidates Committee will evaluate all of the candidates to fill the seat vacated when former Borough President Melinda Katz became Queens County District Attorney. CU will announce our endorsement in advance of early voting. We encourage all voters in Queens to examine the qualifications and vision of all the candidates before voting.

Early Voting

In January 2019, New York State passed a number of pro-democracy reforms, including Early Voting. In October of 2019, we became the 38th state to enact early voting, and over a quarter-million people statewide took advantage of the extra time to vote. 


A year ago, we released a report outlining how much it would cost to properly implement Early Voting along with other reforms and how important appropriate levels of funding would be to the reform’s success. However, the Governor omitted adequate funding for Early Voting implementation in his executive budget. CU will continue to push for the necessary funding to build on the success of Early Voting in 2019. Such funding is crucial given the high voter turnout anticipated in the federal, state and municipal elections in 2020.

Voting Machines

In 2021, New Yorkers will elect an unprecedented number of new officials. The Board of Elections is considering acquiring new voting machines. However, advocates raise concerns about potential vendors, whose machines have a track record of under-counting votes. Every New Yorker who votes should be confident that their vote will be counted. We urge the Board of Elections to thoroughly vet all potential vendors. As the recent debacle in the Iowa caucuses showed, we absolutely cannot afford to get this wrong.


Save The Date 


Civic Engagement Project Update

CU Participates in YMCA’s Day of Advocacy

Young New Yorkers will shape the future of our city. On Martin Luther King Day, our Civic Education and Engagement Project Director, Ben Weinberg, met up with over two hundred young New Yorkers from across the five boroughs at the YMCA’s Day of Advocacy. Ben discussed  voting rights in New York State and debated the challenges in mounting reform-based campaigns with them. Ben also explained how the Let NY Vote coalition pushed to approve preregistration of 16 and 17-year-olds. Ben reported, “It was inspiring to see so many passionate youth discussing the voting reforms they would like to see.” As co-leaders of the LNYV Youth Group, Citizens Union is working to get more young activists involved in creating fairer elections in our state. We are grateful for the support of this work from the New York Community Trust and many individual donors who have made this project and work possible.

(Photo Credit: YMCA of Greater New York)


CU in the News

New York Daily News – 1/21/20

 Gotham Gazette

Do you receive Gotham Gazette’s daily newsletter, the Eye Opener? If not, sign up HERE. Did you know that our Executive Editor, Ben Max, also hosts a weekly podcast? You can listen to a re

cent one at the link shared below or search “Max & Murphy” wherever you get your podcasts.

Cuomo’s Missing Ethics Agenda – January 15, 2020



Thank You!

Scott Avidon – Member for 25 Years!

Scott Avidon, a worker’s compensation judge in Queens, has been a member of Citizens Union for over 25 years. Like so many members, he originally joined because he saw our Voter’s Directories in public libraries and given his lifelong interest in politics, decided to join. Later, Scott joined the Local Candidates Committee (LCC) and participated in the evaluation and recommendations of candidates – a crucial part of Citizens Union’s c4 work. Scott appreciates CU’s dedication to major issues that matter to him, like redistricting and voter accessibility. In 2012 Scott worked on one of our largest campaigns – the fight for fair redistricting. Scott helped CU do public outreach and education in support of fairly drawn districts versus politically driven ones. Scott believes the reforms passed in January 2019, which increased access to voting were some of the most important victories CU and our members have had. One of these reforms was Early Voting, which Scott himself took advantage of last year. Scott hopes to see CU bring in a younger generation to continue the fight for more accessible voting and to increase public engagement in city and state politics. Thank you Scott for your long time membership in Citizens Union! Join CU as a member and be a part of the fight for fair and open city and state government. As a member you may also participate in the LCC and Policy Committee – to learn more click here



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