We asked the four candidates why they should get your vote
Gale A. Brewer
City Councilmember, District 6
Your number one priority on your first day in office:
Your "first day" as an elected official is the day you're elected. I will start by listening to the needs of every community, and by building a top-quality, professional staff to meet three great challenges: land use and development, new housing and schools, and better community planning and readiness.
What single element of your experience makes you the best candidate?
Forty years of public service in and out of government have given me an unsurpassed skill at putting together communities, the private sector, government, and the political process to grow New York for the benefit of everyone who lives here. And I have the results in housing, schools, jobs, parks, landmarking, small business re-zoning, and 7-day-a-week service to prove it.
What is the single most pressing issue facing Manhattan, and how would you tackle it in office?
Affordable housing is the key to the survival of New York as we know it. To create more of it, and the schools, small businesses, and parks we need, I will use the land use powers of the BP office to get better zoning and balanced development. Protecting our neighborhoods while creating more of what we need - on the West Side, I showed that we can do both, and I will.
In your opinion, what issue affecting Manhattan residents has been most neglected over the past 12 years?
The loss of affordable housing and the excessive rents that come with poorly-planned development are destroying our neighborhoods and quality of life. These policies have helped make 20,000 children homeless every night. We have a legal and moral obligation to end this terrible neglect, and find homes for them through creative planning and development.
Imagine you have a completely free Sunday afternoon in Manhattan - what would you do?
Impossible! But in my dreams I am riding the water taxis from one neighborhood to the next, taking in free cultural events and greenmarkets, and listening to jazz under the stars in Riverside Park.
City Councilmember, District 7
On my first day as Borough President I will visit a school and meet with teachers and parents. Education is the key to opportunity. It can open any door and we must place it in the hands of every child. Teachers and parents are the people who really know what is going on. They are the people who are on the frontlines. Working with them, we can give our children a first class education.
Throughout my life, I have overcome obstacles and been able to succeed. Growing up, we were nine kids being raised on welfare. But I worked hard, didn't give up and got a college degree. As a School Board President, I sued the state to fix unfair funding practices, and won $16 billion for our public school children. As a Councilmember, I've taken on tough fights and gotten results. I am ready to lead Manhattan.
The most pressing issue is education. We must lower class sizes and raise support services; stop the closing of schools and start the fixing of them; end high stakes testing and begin to bring innovation and creativity; and we must make it easier for parents and teachers to be involved in our schools and make schools community centers providing all the tools and resources students need to succeed in and out of the classroom.
Manhattan is becoming unaffordable to too many people. With average rents in Manhattan now reported to be over $3000, we must make sure this borough ? and this city ? is big enough for all of us. We are made strong by our diversity. Preserving and creating affordable housing is critical to promoting this diversity by ensuring seniors can stay here, young people can start here and the middle class can prosper.
I would enjoy the people and parks of Manhattan with my family. Starting with a game of basketball to get the juices flowing, I would then take my grandchild walking through the neighborhood and play in the park. I enjoy walking our streets, wearing my button so people know who I am and feel comfortable coming up and telling me their stories, and meeting new people. It's what makes our city great.
Jessica S. Lappin
City Councilmember, District 5
As a Stuyvesant graduate and public school mom, I have a personal stake in improving our schools and giving parents a greater voice in our school system. On day one, I would create a Middle School Task Force to start planning for the 1,600 additional middle school students expected over the next five years. I would also create a borough-wide "war room" on overcrowding and start working for more Pre-K, after-school, and gifted and talented slots.
Land use is a prime part of the borough president's portfolio, and I'm uniquely qualified to tackle tough development issues. I was a land use chair in the City Council for four years, where I played a major role in landmarking and protecting our communities from development, oversaw the approval of 20,000 new public school seats, and addressed tough waterfront issues. As Borough President, I'd use the development process to create more affordable housing, jobs and classroom seats.
Manhattan is becoming unaffordable for middle-class families and seniors. As Borough President, I would work to strengthen rent laws and create new, permanently affordable housing. Creating good-paying jobs is also critical. I spearheaded efforts to bring the new Cornell NYC Tech campus to Manhattan, which will generate 30,000 new jobs, and would continue championing projects that raise the standard of living for working New Yorkers. You can read my plan on my website jessicalappin.com.
Manhattan loses thousands of rent-regulated units every year. To protect our existing affordable housing, we need to help tenants stay in their homes. I sponsor a free legal clinic for tenants facing eviction, which I would expand throughout Manhattan. I'd also continue the work I've done as Chair of the City Council Aging Committee connecting seniors to rental assistance programs and protecting them from landlord harassment.
If my kids aren't taking swimming lessons at Asphalt Green or soccer classes in the Julia Richman Education Complex, you'd most likely find us in St. Catherine's Park or at MacArthur Playground. Unless, of course, it's a cold November day and the Jets are playing the 4 p.m. game.
Former regulatory attorney and restaurant owner; President and Founder of a not-for-profit on the revitalization of Lower Manhattan and Chair of Community Board 1 for seven years
My first priority would be to create a master plan for Manhattan. It would lay out a proactive planning strategy to ensure that urban needs, such as classroom seats, affordable housing, and park space are included in all new development. This plan would inform the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), helping to guide and systematize Manhattan's land use process to ensure community based planning.
Chairing Community Board 1 for seven years, I worked collaboratively to rebuild lower Manhattan after 9/11. We took on major issues ? from the so-called Ground Zero mosque to the proposed terror trials. As Chair, I also dealt frequently with land use issues ? the most powerful tool of the Borough President. We built three new schools in four years ? including the city's first green school ? helping to tackle Manhattan's school overcrowding.
Affordable housing is a critical issue. Viable housing is essential to a healthy, happy, productive life, but too many Manhattanites don't have it. As Borough President, I would adopt a master plan to require affordable housing on every development. I would also fight to repeal the Urstadt Law, allowing the city to regain control of rent-regulated housing and repeal Vacancy Decontrol, which is leading to an unprecedented loss of affordable units.
The most neglected issue affecting our residents is the lack of a borough-wide master plan. This has caused development to occur without thought to the impact it will have on communities, like school overcrowding, overburdened transportation, and pricing out the middle class. A master plan would bring order to the land use process by identifying the needs of each community so that future development is better planned and benefits, rather than burdens, our neighborhoods.
I would spend time with my husband, Bruce, and our three sons at our local park, Pier 25. Later, Max and I would spend time playing chess and I would read with Lucas and Mason.