Voters to Get a Crack at Council Candidates at CFB Forums

Community forums will allow voters to make more informed decisions when they hit the polls

A directional sign in various languages is placed to point voters to a polling station in New York City. Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

Voters will have the opportunity to interact with City Council candidates in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx at New York City Campaign Finance Board-sponsored community forums that will be hosted by prominent community organizations ahead of the September primary.

The forums, a new program launched by NYC Votes, the Campaign Finance Board’s voter engagement initiative, will take place before the primary election on September 12. Details on the date, time and location for the individual forums are not yet available.

The goal of the program is to increase voter turnout in the city and allow voters to hear directly from the candidates so that they have the necessary information about them before heading to the polls. Organizations were chosen based on their organizational capacity, whether they are able to carry out nonpartisan voter engagement activities and fulfill the program requirements as well as their plan to draw a diverse group of community residents to the forum. Each organization will receive a $1,500 grant.

“We often hear from voters that they don’t have enough information to participate in local elections,” Onida Coward Mayers, NYC Votes’ director of voter assistance, said. “We’ve launched the Candidate Community Forums initiative to change that. With local organizations at the helm, these forums will provide voters with an opportunity to meet the candidates vying for office, and to learn how they plan to address important issues in their communities.”

The eight races are in districts in which the incumbents are not seeking reelection.

The NAACP’s New York City Housing Authority branch will host the forum in District 2, the seat currently held by term-limited Manhattan Councilwoman Rosie Mendez that includes East Village, Gramercy Park, Kips Bay and the Lower East Side. The  League of Women Voters of the City of New York will host the event in District 4, the seat occupied by Manhattan Councilman Dan Garodnick—also term-limited—whose neighborhoods include the Upper East side, Yorkville, Times Square, Central Park South and Midtown East.

The Hispanic Federation, Inc. will host the forum in District 8—the seat held by City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who is term-limited—which covers El Barrio (East Harlem), Mott Haven, Highbridge, Concourse, Longwood and Port Morris. Faith in New York will host the event in District 13, the seat currently held by term-limited Bronx Councilman James Vacca that includes the neighborhoods of City Island, Throggs Neck, Morris Park, Pelham Bay and Ferry Point.

Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc. will host the forum in District 18, the seat held by term-limited Bronx Councilwoman Annabel Palma that includes Castle Hill, Parkchester, Soundview and Clason Point.

Food Bank For New York City will hold the forum in District 21—the seat held by Queens Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, who recently announced she won’t run for reelection. She said that she wanted to be closer to her husband and her son, given that her husband’s job requires him to work in Maryland. That district includes East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and Corona.

Ocean Hill-Brownsville Coalition of Young Professionals is sponsoring the forum in District 41, the seat held by term-limited Brooklyn Councilwoman Darlene Mealy that covers Bedford-Stuyvesant, Ocean Hill-Brownsville, East Flatbush and Crown Heights. And Delta Sigma Theta Sorority’s East Kings County Alumnae Chapter will host the forum in District 43, the seat currently held by Councilman Vincent Gentile, who is term-limited and running for Brooklyn district attorney. His district covers Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and Bath Beach.

Voters to Get a Crack at Council Candidates at CFB Forums