In this packed election cycle, Citizens Union has evaluated 7 races and 18 candidates for office in the New York City Mayor, Public Advocate, Comptroller and Council races to determine who strongly supports our issues, can advance a reform agenda, and can best fulfill the obligations of the position.

Interview teams of the Local Candidates Committee volunteers assess the candidates based on their responses to the following: CU’s questionnaire (a pre-requisite 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 during the Primary Election, and an “Endorsed” rating applies only to General Election contests. A “No Preference” 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.

Criteria

The following guidelines are used by the Local Candidates Committee and Citizens Union Board of Directors in the evaluation of candidates:

  • Support for Citizens Union’s reform agenda shall be the primary criteria used in deciding its support for a candidate.
  • Evidence of ability to wage an effective and competitive campaign shall be considered, but not be determinative.
  • Ability to advance CU’s goals, if elected, shall be considered, but not determinative.
  • Incumbents will be held accountable for their record of reform in office and shall be judged accordingly on the basis of their demonstrated support for CU’s issues.
  • State, local, or community issues specific to the race’s jurisdiction shall be considered as will candidates’ ability to grasp these issues and propose thoughtful solutions to represent their 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.

QUESTIONNAIRE: CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES

Below each question, please find a tabulation of answers from all 48 General Election candidates who responded to the questionnaire – and not only from those candidates whom Citizens Union interviewed.

Voting and Elections Reform

1. What is your position with respect to eliminating party primaries and establishing a non-partisan election system in which all candidates and all voters participate in the
first round and the top two candidates advance to the second round?
Support: 30 Conditionally Support: 0 Undecided or No Answer: 2 Oppose: 17 Conditionally Oppose: 0

2. What is your position on instituting Instant Runoff Voting for all citywide offices and for all special elections for city offices?
Support: 42 Conditionally Support: 0 Undecided or No Answer: 1 Oppose: 5 Conditionally Oppose: 0

3. What is your position on creating a voluntary municipal poll worker program to supplement poll worker recruitment by district leaders?
Support: 46 Conditionally Support: 0 Undecided or No Answer: 1 Oppose: 1 Conditionally Oppose: 0

4. What is your position on requiring the Board of Elections to report performance metrics to the City Council that conform to the Mayor’s Management Report?
Support: 45 Conditionally Support: 0 Undecided or No Answer: 2 Oppose: 1 Conditionally Oppose: 0

5. What is your position on modifying the City Charter to require that laws enacted by referendum only be changed through approval by the voters?
Support: 39 Conditionally Support: 2 Undecided or No Answer: 3 Oppose: 5 Conditionally Oppose: 0

Campaign Finance Reform

6. What is your position on prohibiting participants in the city’s campaign finance program from using public matching funds to purchase strategic campaign consulting services from firms that also provide lobbying services?
Support: 39 Conditionally Support: 1 Undecided or No Answer: 3 Oppose: 5 Conditionally Oppose: 0

7. What is your position on increasing the Campaign Finance Board’s public matching grants from a partial match of 55% to a full match of funds raised (Int. 1130-A)?Support:36 Conditionally Support: 1 Undecided or No Answer: 5 Oppose: 6 Conditionally Oppose: 0

City Council Reform

8. How do you feel the reformed bill drafting process is going under the enacted 2014 Council Rules Reforms and do you think we need a more independent process similar to New York State Legislature’s bill drafting commission? Responses available in questionnaires.

9. What is your position on the following proposals enabling Council committees to function more effectively and independently of the speaker:

a. Should committee chairs have the ability to hire at least one committee staffer?
Support: 46 Conditionally Support: 0 Undecided or No Answer: 0 Oppose: 2 Conditionally Oppose: 0

b. Should committee hearings and votes be scheduled at the direction of the chairs?
Support: 46 Conditionally Support: 0 Undecided or No Answer: 0 Oppose: 1 Conditionally Oppose: 0

c. Should committees be able to issue subpoenas by a vote of their members?
Support: 48 Conditionally Support: 0 Undecided or No Answer: 0 Oppose: 0 Conditionally Oppose: 0

d. Now that committee chair stipends have been eliminated what is your position on reducing the overall number of committees so members can participate more meaningfully in fewer issues?
Support: 37 Conditionally Support: 1 Undecided or No Answer: 3 Oppose: 7 Conditionally Oppose: 0

10. What is your position on greater disclosure of councilmembers’ outside income?
Support: 45 Conditionally Support: 0 Undecided or No Answer: 2 Oppose: 1 Conditionally Oppose: 0

11. When the Quadrennial Compensation Commission is reconvened, what is your position on requiring that any future increase in councilmember compensation only apply prospectively to the following term?
Support: 46 Conditionally Support: 0 Undecided or No Answer: 2 Oppose: 0 Conditionally Oppose: 0

12. What is your position on ensuring a more equitable and needs-based distribution of discretionary funding?
Support: 44 Conditionally Support: 2 Undecided or No Answer: 2 Oppose: 0 Conditionally Oppose: 0

13. What is your position on increasing transparency of discretionary funding by requiring the list of capital and expense funds and their sponsors be provided to Councilmembers and the public three days in advance of any vote, and expanding the online searchable database of expense funds to include all capital fund recipients and applicants?
Support: 47 Conditionally Support: 0 Undecided or No Answer: 1 Oppose: 0 Conditionally Oppose: 0

14. What is your position on extending term limits from two four-year terms to three four year terms?
Support: 15 Conditionally Support: 1 Undecided or No Answer: 1 Oppose: 29 Conditionally Oppose: 2

15. What is your position on making all actions designed to influence any City Council outcome, including the choice of Speaker, reportable as a lobbying expense?
Support: 39 Conditionally Support: 3 Undecided or No Answer: 4 Oppose: 2 Conditionally Oppose: 0

Public Safety and Oversight of Police Misconduct

16. What is your position on establishing the Commission to Combat Police Corruption (CCPC) as a permanent commission in the City Charter while empowering the CCPC to issue subpoenas?
Support: 38 Conditionally Support: 0 Undecided or No Answer: 3 Oppose: 7 Conditionally Oppose: 1

17. What is your position on enhancing the Civilian Complaint Review Board’s (CCRB) authority to initiate an investigation into reported or known incidents of police misconduct without receipt of a formal complaint?
Support: 40 Conditionally Support: 0 Undecided or No Answer: 0 Oppose: 8 Conditionally Oppose: 0

18. What is your position on granting the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) with the authority to prosecute officers found guilty of lying during CCRB investigations?
Support: 42 Conditionally Support: 0 Undecided or No Answer: 2 Oppose: 4 Conditionally Oppose: 0

19. What is your position on reinstating the zero tolerance penalty for false official statements by public officers?
Support: 47 Conditionally Support: 1 Undecided or No Answer: 0 Oppose: 0 Conditionally Oppose: 0

20. What is your position on requiring the Police Commissioner to explain divergence from NYPD trial judge and CCRB disciplinary recommendations and to make the
explanation public?
Support: 44 Conditionally Support: 1 Undecided or No Answer: 0 Oppose: 3 Conditionally Oppose: 0

21. What is your position on requiring the NYPD to publish a regular report of use of force incidents with data disaggregated by race?
Support: 40 Conditionally Support: 0 Undecided or No Answer: 1 Oppose: 7 Conditionally Oppose: 0

Budget Reform

22. What is your position on establishing independent budgeting for:

a. the borough presidents?
Support: 45 Conditionally Support: 0 Undecided or No Answer: 1 Oppose: 2 Conditionally Oppose: 0

b. Conflicts of Interest Board?
Support: 44 Conditionally Support: 0 Undecided or No Answer: 1 Oppose: 3 Conditionally Oppose: 0

c. the public advocate?
Support: 44 Conditionally Support: 0 Undecided or No Answer: 1 Oppose: 3 Conditionally Oppose: 0

d. community boards?
Support: 44 Conditionally Support: 1 Undecided or No Answer: 1 Oppose: 2 Conditionally Oppose: 0

23. What is your position on making the budget process more transparent by clearly defining and limiting units of appropriation?
Support: 48 Conditionally Support: 0 Undecided or No Answer: 0 Oppose: 0 Conditionally Oppose: 0

24. What is your position on release of revenue projections (other than property taxes) prior to Council hearings on the Executive budget?
Support: 48 Conditionally Support: 0 Undecided or No Answer: 0 Oppose: 0 Conditionally Oppose: 0

Land Use and Community Board Reform

25. What is your position on designating urban planners for use by community boards and requiring borough president’s report to the Council the manner in which they advertise and make community board appointments?
Support: 43 Conditionally Support: 2 Undecided or No Answer: 1 Oppose: 2 Conditionally Oppose: 1

26. What is your position on establishing a formal standardized and transparent process for community board appointments including written applications, interviews of candidates, and filling vacancies within 30 days?
Support: 45 Conditionally Support: 1 Undecided or No Answer: 1 Oppose: 1 Conditionally Oppose: 0

Constitutional Convention

27. In November, voters in New York will be asked whether they wish to hold a constitutional convention to amend the New York State Constitution. What is your position on holding such a convention?
Support: 13 Conditionally Support: 0 Undecided or No Answer: 5 Oppose: 30 Conditionally Oppose: 0

28. If you support the constitutional convention, what actions, if any, will you take to ensure that it takes place? If you oppose the convention, what will you do to defeat it?
Responses available online at questionnaires.