New York City voters will choose our next mayor on November 5th. You can still register by October 11th and vote for mayor.
Voters have a real choice between the candidates, Bill de Blasio and Joseph Lhota, on many crucial issues of concern to New Yorkers. De Blasio, a former city councilman, is the current Public Advocate. Lhota was the former head of the Metropolitan Transit Authority and a deputy mayor and budget director for former mayor Rudy Giuliani.
New York is becoming a city of the rich and the poor. The middle class is disappearing as incomes stagnate, jobs are lost, and the amount of affordable housing shrinks. This growing inequality is not sustainable over time without serious consequences to the city’s economic and social fabric.
The city’s poverty rate rose to 21.2 percent in 2012. Over 1.7 million New Yorkers are now living below the official federal poverty line ($23,314 for a family of four). According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 31 percent of the city’s children live in poverty, as do 43 percent of single mothers.
The city lost 33 percent of its private subsidized housing units between 1990 and 2012. Thirty percent of New Yorkers pay more than half their income in rent. More than half (52%) of those who responded to the latest Community Service Society survey think it is not very possible or impossible for poor people to make it into the middle class.
These are some of the problems facing the next mayor. Based on news reports, here are their positions on a series of important issues.
Taxes: Bill de Blasio wants to raise taxes on the city’s wealthiest residents, specifically to fund universal pre-kindergarten, which he thinks is crucial for children going on to attend our public schools. Joe Lhota wants to lower taxes, believing that this will help local businesses and keep the city competitive in the global economy.
The Economy: Lhota wants to nurture businesses, especially high-tech industries which would provide well-paid jobs. De Blasio points out that the fast growing jobs in the city are mostly low-wage; relatively few New Yorkers have benefited from the tech boom.
Stop and Frisk: A federal judge recently found that police use this practice in discriminatory fashion. The city is appealing the ruling. De Blasio wants to reform stop and frisk. He believes that the way it is used now makes the city less safe in long run, focusing almost entirely on black and Latino male youth and leading to mistrust of the police in communities of color. Lhota supports stop and frisk, believing that it is effective in lowering the crime rate and is in compliance with Constitution.
Homelessness: On any given day, about 50,000 New Yorkers are homeless. Lhota thinks that relying on a market solution would solve much of the homeless problem. De Blasio has been critical of Mayor Bloomberg's policy of increasing requirements to access the city’s homeless shelters. He favors giving vouchers for vacant apartments in the city’s public housing buildings.
Education: De Blasio has come out against adding new charter schools. He wants to achieve universal pre-kindergarten and expand and improve Career and Technical Education. He also wants to reduce class size. In contrast, Lhota supports charter schools, saying that the city needs more of them. He is also in favor of merit pay for teachers.
I urge you to study the candidates’ stands on these issues and remember to vote.
You can register to vote at one of the offices of the Board of Elections, or by mail. You can download a registration form. You can also call 1-866-868-3692 to get a registration form in the mail. You may also obtain registration forms from libraries, post offices, and most New York City government agencies.