My absentee ballot came in the mail today.
Lots of offices and lots of choices: mayor, city council, public advocate, borough president and district attorney. New York City has a new method of voting, you can “rank” up to five candidates, “ranking” means placing candidates in preferential order on your ballot. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote the lowest voter getter’s votes will move to the top ranker on their ballot, ballots will continue to be “exhausted” until a candidate achieves a majority of the votes. Why the change? In a previous mayoral election, no candidate received 40% of the vote, the threshold for winning and a runoff was held three weeks later – very expensive and very low turnout. In the city council elections, with multiple candidates, winners frequently garnered much less than a majority. Under the new system, no runoffs, and the winner will have a majority of the vote. New York City also has public financing of elections, for each dollar contributed; up to $250 from voters in your district the city will provide an additional eight dollars.
The wisdom of these policies we can discus on another day.
The UFT, the teacher union, interviewed twelve mayoral candidates on a members-only Zoom (12,000 members participated), selected four finalists, and endorsed Scott Stringer; a former member of the State Assembly, Manhattan Borough President and Comptroller. I met with him a number of times to discuss local housing issues, he was engaging, well prepared, we didn’t agree on an issue, he gave reasons why and suggestions of other pathways. Unfortunately in most cases you get a thank you letter or a meeting with a staffer, who knows nothing about your issue. Stringer is a public school parent and well versed in school issues; he has been accused of inappropriate conduct, twenty years ago and vigorously denies the accusation.
The weekly polling has Adams and Yang in the lead, with half of all voters undecided, there are thirteen candidates on the mayoral ballot, that’s right, thirteen.
For me charter schools are a major issue: privatizing basic services is a disastrous direction. Basic services: education, housing, health care, police and fire, homelessness, and others are a core obligation of government.
Charter schools in New York City are either networks, multiple schools under one management structure, i. e., Success Academy, Achievement First, Uncommon Schools, Harlem Children’s Zone, and receive substantial, very substantial support from the private sector through tax deductible contributions. The other category are referred to as community or “mom and pop” charter schools, school created by local not-for-profit community organizations.
As we know from multiple investigations charter schools commonly push out low performing students (for example the Success Academy “Got to Go List”), and, the community charter schools have sub-par achievement data.
The original purpose of charter schools was to create “engines of innovation.” We were rapidly disabused of the idea.
Eric Adams is a vigorous supporter of charter schools.
Charter school parents are a source of votes; will Adams gain charter school parent votes? The low performance of too many community charter schools is irrelevant. Pandering to constituencies is not a value I admire in a candidate.
Supporting low performing schools and supporting diverting dollars away from public schools to attract votes smells of the worst aromas of the days of decentralization.
Cross Adams off my list.
At the “final four” of the UFT interviews Yang was asked whether he read the UFT’s five principles for the use of the Biden Rescue Plan: Nope, he said he was unaware of the plan.
At Thursday night’s NY1 debate Yang’s bold new idea was to give each parent $1,000 to purchase tutoring and speech services; in other words, a voucher. Yang seemed unaware, speech services are required by state law. Vouchers are attacks on public education, used to segregate schools and move public dollars to the private sector without any accountability.
Cross Yang off my list.
I was impressed by Kathryn Garcia, the former NYC Commissioner of Sanitation, I liked her during the UFT interviews; however, she’s polling in the mid single digits, The NY Times and the NY Daily News just endorsed her: will she move to the top of the pack?
I’m holding on to my ballot for a week or two, as of today:
Stringer # 1
Garcia # 2
Wiley # 3
Under RCV you can rank up to five candidates, or fewer, or none.
Our education system has stumbled along during the seven de Blasio years, Carman Farina, de Blasio’s first selection as chancellor tried to turn back the clock and recreate a classic, and dysfunctional, superintendent system with ukases from above, his next choice, after being jilted at the alter by his first choice, Richard Carranza, added to a bloated bureaucracy and his “plan” was more testing as de Blasio continued to micromanage, moved on.
A June primary means a winner will be sitting in the wings for six months until s/he is sworn in as mayor.
Why am I voting for Stringer?
He has a record: decades in elected office with a deep understanding of the functioning of government and education is at the top of his agenda.
Our education system is a bloated bureaucracy, and Stringer agrees, can we redesign the system to make it more responsive to the needs of neighborhoods, schools, parents and teachers?
I have some ideas: stay tuned.