What’s on the Ballot? New Yorkers Go to the Polls on November 5

Early voting

It’s a year away from the Presidential general election, but on November 5, New Yorkers will have the chance to cast their votes for a handful of general races and a few ballot measures. Important races include a City Public Advocate, Queens District Attorney, and City Council for Brooklyn’s 45th District. Here’s a rundown of the ballot. 

Public Advocate

Public Advocates are an important position in city politics as it is second in the line of mayoral succession like the Vice President is to the President. They are charged with being the people’s representative in city politics. Mayor Bill DeBlasio himself was a Public Advocate before becoming mayor. The winner will serve the remainder of the four-year term, from January 1, 2020, to December 31, 2021.

Who’s on the Ballot? After Letitia James won the election for New York Attorney General in 2018, she left a vacancy as Public Advocate. In February, DeBlasio called for a special election for her replacement, which was won by the current Public Advocate Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn). Williams will be defending his position against City Council Member Joseph Borelli (R-Staten Island), and Libertarian Devin Balkind.   

Queens Borough District Attorney

The Queens Borough Attorney General is the lead prosecutor in the respective borough. They preside over criminal justice policies and prosecuting criminal cases. They have the most authority when it comes to which cases get charged. Currently, John M. Ryan is acting Queens Borough District Attorney and got appointed to the position by Richard Brown who had to step down due to complications with Parkinson’s Disease, and he died on May 4, 2019. 

Who’s on the Ballot? After an extremely close and hard-fought primary, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz (D-Forest Hills, Rego Park, Kew Gardens, Maspeth, South Elmhurst, Richmond Hill) won the Democratic nomination against public defender Tiffany Cabán. She will be running against an ex-NYPD officer and criminal defense attorney Joe Murray. While Murray is running as a Republican, he’s a Trump-supporting registered Democrat. 

Council District 45 

In Brooklyn, District 45 makes up Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood, Marine Park, Flatlands, and Kensington. There are three candidates running from the Democratic and Libertarian Party. No candidate is running from the Republican party.  

Who’s on the Ballot? The three candidates running to take the seat include the incumbent Rep. Farah Louis (D-Brooklyn), U.S. Marine Corps veteran Anthony Beckford who is running on the Liberal Independent ticket and Libertarian David Fite.

Those are the three major general elections, however, there are five ballot measures that voters will have to choose from that deal questions of an election, the police, ethics, budget, and land use. Here is a quick rundown of the five questions. 

Ballot Question #1: New York City Elections Charter Amendment: Ranked-Choice Voting, Vacancies, and City Council Redistricting Timeline On the ballot

The first measure is a vote for or against Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) in future elections for Mayor, Public Advocate, Comptroller, Borough President, and City Council. If passed this would go into effect January 2021. It would allow voters to rank their top five candidates for each position and the candidate that gets the most top-ranked votes would win the election. 

The measure would also do two other things. First, it would extend the timeframe that a special election can be called for a new Mayor (from 60 to 80) and Public Advocate (from 45 to 80). Secondly, it would require the redrawing of districts after censuses to be complete by the time candidates start gathering signatures to run in those districts.

Ballot Question #2: New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board Charter Amendment

This measure deals with the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), the board that leads investigations into the abuse of power by police officers. If passed, it would add two members to the already-thirteen person CCRB. One would be appointed by the Public Advocate and one would be appointed jointly by the Mayor and Speaker of the City Council. It would also require the NYPD Commissioner to have more say in disciplinary decisions of police officers that are being investigated by the CCRB. 

Additionally, it would require the CCRB annual budget to be enough to hire employees for at least one CCRB for every 154 police officers. It would also give more power to the CCRB to investigate the truthfulness of statements made during complaints and allow the CCRB to delegate the issuing of subpoenas. 

Ballot Question #3: Ethics and Government Charter Amendment

This measure, if approved, would increase the amount of time from one to two years before an elected official who leaves office can reappear in a city agency. It would also replace 2 of the 5 officials on the Conflicts of Interests Board (COIB) appointed by the Mayor with a member appointed by the Comptroller and a member appointed by the Public Advocate, and limit the influence of COIB members in city elections. Additionally, it would require that a Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprise would report directly to the Mayor.

Ballot Question #4: City Budget Charter Amendment

This measure looks to create a “rainy day fund” that would save money when the city is doing well financially to be opened when there are financial difficulties. It would also set budgets for the Public Advocate and Borough Presidents. Additionally, it would require the Mayor to send the budget to City Council earlier in the year. 

Ballot Question #5: Land Use 

This measure would allow for Borough Presidents and community boards more time to review plans for developments that are subject to the city’s land-use review. It would also make the process more transparent by requiring the land use to be posted online for the public to see.