CFB Teaches Brooklynites How To Run For Office


Can public office candidates use taxpayer money to subsidize their MTA passes which are used to get to campaign related events?

These concerns were addressed last Saturday as the New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB) convened in the first of a series of workshops outlining the requirements to run for office. 

With the 2021 citywide elections having dozens of citywide seats open due to term limits, and the CFB’s Matching Funds Program, the election could easily cost taxpayers upwards of $100 million.

CFB members encouraged candidates of humble means to run for office. Egerton summarized the CFB program which provides candidates with public funds by matching small-dollar contributions from individuals who reside in New York City.

The agency is attempting to prepare potential candidates for what will be the largest election cycle it has seen in its 30-year history. Two citywide offices, all five borough presidencies, and 35 City Council districts are held by incumbents who will be term-limited out of office and cannot run for re-election to their current office.

Given the high volume of open seats, the CFB expects upwards of 500 campaigns to register with the agency for the upcoming election cycle. Over 250 training sessions both in-office and off-site in 2019 and 2020 are being planned to educate local candidates and ensure their campaigns fulfill their legally mandated training requirements.

During last Saturday’s meeting, held at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Eastern Parkway Branch, 1044 Eastern Pkwy, CFB Director of Candidate Services Hannah Egerton outlined the requirements for absolute beginners wishing to run for office. The printed copy of the PowerPoint presentation being showed to a room of about 15 potential candidates defined common terms like: candidate, committee, and treasurer. Budget creation, campaign staffing, and expenditures were also explained. 

The training program has received substantial support from diverse organizations. Dominicanos US, Generation Citizen, Greater Queens Chapter of the Links, Inc., Hispanic Federation, Latino Leadership Institute, and South Asian Fund for Education, Scholarship and Training (SAFEST) have all joined the CFB as community engagement partners.

On-site training sessions are regularly held at the CFB offices in lower Manhattan throughout each month. In partnership with the New York Public Library, Queens Public Library, and Brooklyn Public Library, each off-site training will be held at a public library branch in each borough. The public libraries are providing the space as a public service to prospective candidates.

And in regard to using taxpayer money to take the subway to campaign-related events, the answer is maybe. The candidate would be required to explain the necessity of the purchase to the agency, who would then decide if it were a qualified expenditure. 

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