City Policy Agenda

Citizens Union Public Policy Agenda for the City of New York - 2018 

The health of our democracy and the effectiveness of our government have a direct bearing on the quality of life for New Yorkers. Non-partisan and independent, our goal is to build a political system that is fair and open to all, that values each voice, and that engages every voter. As New York’s democratic reform organization, we inform, empower and organize citizens to strengthen the integrity of our political institutions. We fight against corruption; work to reform our voting and electoral systems; and press for city and state governments that are transparent, accountable and effective. We welcome everyone, of any political or professional background, who wants to work with other New Yorkers to create a cleaner, healthier democracy for our City and State.


  • Enact a top-two election system to replace the current closed partisan primary system.
  • Establish instant runoff voting for citywide offices, borough presidents, and the City Council.
  • Monitor the newly-updated Pro-Voter Law and Mayoral Directive #1 so New Yorkers are provided more opportunities to register to vote at city agencies, including electronically.
  • Implement split shifts and create a voluntary municipal poll worker program to expand the pool of qualified poll workers.
  • Create permanent Student Voter Registration Day and require that schools provide voter registration forms to parents.
  • Allow voters to opt for email-based voter guides.


  • Monitor the 2014 Council Rules Reforms in the areas of discretionary funding and bill drafting, and push to reduce the number of committees.


  • Increase the public funds and spending caps to counteract the increase in independent expenditures.
  • Ban the use of public funds for campaign consulting services from firms that also lobby.
  • Reduce public funds for candidates facing minimal opposition and enact “war chest” restrictions.
  • Ensure the continued independence and autonomy of the NYC Campaign Finance Board.


  • Enact further reforms to strengthen public oversight and boost public confidence in the accountability of police, such as engaging additional government entities to enhance transparency of the NYPD and developing the NYPD’s internal oversight of police misconduct.
  • Strengthen the investigative, oversight and prosecutorial powers of the Civilian Complaint Review Board and the NYPD Inspector General.
  • Make the Commission to Combat Police Corruption (CCPC) permanent and grant it subpoena power.


  • Monitor city agencies’ compliance with the Open Data and Webcasting Laws.
  • Create a central portal to track Freedom of Information Law requests for city government records for all agencies.


  • Increase budget transparency by more clearly defining units of appropriation and limiting their size.
  • Enact independent budgeting for borough presidents, the Public Advocate, the Conflicts of Interest Board, and community boards.
  • Release the non-property revenue projections prior to Council hearings on the Executive budget.
  • Create a centralized Pension Investment Board to create greater efficiencies in investments.


  • Provide urban planners to community boards who are independent of the borough presidents’ offices.
  • Open community boards to their communities by creating a standardized and transparent process for filling positions.
  • Establish term limits of five consecutive two-year terms for board members, and examine term limits for leadership posts.


  • Include appointees on the Board of Standards and Appeals from the borough presidents and Public Advocate.
  • Ensure that mayoral appointees to the BSA have relevant professional accreditation.
  • Acknowledge 197-a plans by reconciling them with other development plans in strategic planning.


  • Make mayoral control permanent, while ensuring that the governance system encourages accountability, provides transparency, engages more parents, and respects democratic participation.

2015 State and City Policy Agendas
2014 City Policy Agenda
2013 City Policy Agenda
2012 City Policy Agenda
2011 City Policy Agenda
2010 City Policy Agenda
2009 City Policy Agenda
2008 City Policy Agenda
See also our historic State Policy Agendas