Queens Lawmakers On The Move March 21, 2019

Queens County City Council News

Kim Pushes For Ranked Choice Voting

Assemblymember Ron Kim/Facebook

Assemblymember Ron Kim (D-Whitestone, Flushing, College Point, Murray Hill) and Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY today will join together to urge the NYC Charter Commission to recommend Ranked Choice Voting (RCV), a consensus driven system that would allow voters to rank candidates in order of preference, instead of a winner take all model.

Ranked choice voting allows voters to express their preferences for a variety of candidates by ranking their first five choices. If on election day when all the first-choices are counted there is one candidate who collects a majority of the vote, that candidate wins. If there’s no majority, then the last-place candidate is eliminated and their votes re-allocated according to voter preferences. The process is repeated until there’s a majority winner.

Other cities like San Francisco, Minneapolis and Santa Fe, have implemented ranked choice voting to revolutionize the way candidates campaign. Ed Lee, the former Mayor of San Francisco, was the first Asian-American won his election thanks to Ranked Choice Voting.

In the last three election cycles in New York City, sixty-three percent of multi-candidate primaries were won with less than 50% of the vote, 30% were won with less than 40%, and nearly 10% were won with less than 30%. In 2021, the incumbents will be term-limited in approximately 70% of the City Council, all five borough presidencies, as well as the offices of the controller and the mayor. That means over 200 candidates will be competing over open seats.

Ranked choice voting also helps change the composition of what our government looks like. According to a study done by Fair Vote, in the four Bay Area cities that use ranked choice voting, candidates of color have won 62% of those races, as compared to only 38% prior.

The NYC Charter Commission will adopt a draft slate of proposals in April, that voters will ultimately approve or reject on the November ballot.

The press conference to advocate for RCV is slated for 3:30 p.m., today, March 21 on the steps of the Flushing Public Library, 41-17 Main Street in Flushing.

Addabbo, Senate Passes Package of Bills to Empower Voters

Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr.

State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth, parts of South Ozone Park, Ridgewood, Woodside, The Rockaways), together with the Senate Democratic Majority, passed legislation to help reform campaign financing and ensure ballots are easier to understand.

These common sense bills include Senate Bill S.2300-A, co-sponsored by Addabbo, to enact the Voter Friendly Ballot Act, Senate Bill S.3167, that will restrict campaign contributions from anyone seeking government contracts, and Senate Bill S.3145, to make voters more aware of ballot questions.

“Ballots filled with confusing graphics and text often too small to read, makes the passage of S.2300-A, which I co-sponsor, significant,” said Addabbo. “Updating the layout of ballots makes the voting process much more user-friendly and eliminates the opportunity for misunderstanding and scanner errors. I am proud to join my Senate colleagues in passing legislation that will end pay-to-play and clean up Albany after decades of inaction while continuing to make voting easier for all New Yorkers.”

The package of bills passed by the Senate include:

·         Bans campaign contributions from a company seeking state contracts to officeholders with authority over procuring entities during a restricted vendor contribution period. Under this legislation, prospective vendors will be barred from contributing when responding to any form of procurement for six months after winning a contract, or when lobbying to create a procurement opportunity (S.3167);

·         Improves campaign finance transparency by requiring political committees to disclose the occupation, employer, and employer’s address of their contributors whose total contributions equal or exceed $500. It also assures timely disclosure by requiring the filing be done in person or by express or electronic mail during the final 15 days before an election (S.2333);

·         Ensures voters are appropriately informed when their ballot is a two-sided ballot and that they are aware of important ballot questions on the other side (S.3145).

Sanders Holds Second Community Conversation On Marijuana Legalization

State Sen. James Sanders Jr.

State Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D-Rochdale Village, Far Rockaway) will host part 2 of his series on the effects of the possible legalization of recreational marijuana in New York State.

This will be an enlightening conversation focusing on how New York State tax revenues from the legalization of recreational marijuana may be reinvested into communities impacted by the war on drugs. The discussion will also address community concerns with the proposed legislation  and examine how similar laws have impacted other states.

“We will explore how New York State can develop preventative measures to combat obstacles, create an equity program for medical marijuana and last, but not least, delve into potential business opportunities,” said Sanders.

Partners for the discussion include State Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan), Cannaclusive, Cannabis Culture Association, We Rise To Legalize, Minorities 4 Medical Marijuana and Black Ash Cannabis.

The panel discussion will feature Shaleen Title, Commissioner of Massachusetts Cannabis Control and Bradley Usher, Chief of Staff for Krueger.

The discussion is slated for between 1:30-3:30 p.m., Saturday. April 6 at the Black Spectrum Theatre (inside Roy Wilkins Park), 177-01 Baisley Boulevard in Jamaica. You must RSVP to attend. Please call Senator Sanders’ Office at 718-523-3069 or 718-327-7017 or register online at Eventbrite at https://part2_legalization-of-marijuana.eventbrite.com.