Carlina Rivera collects petition signatures to get on the ballot as she runs for City Council. (Photo via Twitter).

It’s time for petitioning!

It’s an exciting time of year: petitioning time!

Huh, what’s that?

As New Yorkers, we’re used to people approaching us on the street asking for something. But if you’ve been confronted recently by clipboard-carriers asking you to sign a petition to get someone on the ballot, that’s because it’s petition time, the semi-official beginning of campaign season in New York.

So what’s the deal with the petitions?

In order to run in a New York election, candidates need to collect signatures from people who can vote in that election. That means if someone is running as a Democrat for Mayor of New York City, they need to collect signatures from Democrats in New York City. If a candidate is running as an independent, they can collect signatures from anyone who is registered to vote in the general election.

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Julissa Ferreras-Copeland with her then-newborn son and husband.

Pol Bows Out to Spend Time with Family… and Means It

Normally when a politician says they are retiring to spend more time with their family, we’re skeptical. But Queens Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland seems to really mean it, describing the anguish of not being able to spend enough time with her husband and son. Though she was widely-seen as a rising star, Ferreras-Copeland says she’s putting her happiness first.

Why it matters:

  • This shakes up the race to be the next Council Speaker, perhaps the second most powerful role in City politics after the Mayor. Ferreras-Copeland was seen as a serious contender for the position which is voted on by the City Council. While insiders pointed to her as de Blasio’s preferred candidate, her strained ties with Queens Democratic Leader Rep. Joe Crowley might have been a stumbling block.
     
    Without Ferreras-Copeland in the race for Speaker, there are no other serious candidates from Queens, leaving Crowley free to wheel and deal. Look for him to throw his support (and the votes of the dozen-or-so Councilmembers loyal to him) to whichever candidate will deliver the most for him.
     
  • Ferreras-Copeland’s retirement highlights the plight faced by women in government. We mentioned this issue last week whenthe New York Times reported on how many women left working for Mayor de Blasio amid complaints about mismanagement and a hostile workplace. There were suggestions that Ferreras-Copeland couldn’t be Speaker because of her young family, an accusation that virtually never comes up for fathers. 
  • With Ferreras-Copeland leaving, only 8 out of 51 City Councilmembers are likely to be women next year. The successor to current Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, a Puerto Rican woman, is also very likely to be a white man (probably Upper Manhattan’s Mark Levine or Corey Johnson from Chelsea). While both are progressives, many activists are dismayed at the lack of diversity in the New York City Council.

Who’s going to succeed Ferreras-Copeland?

Jackson Heights Assemblyman Francisco Moya is running to succeed Ferreras-Copeland. He has the support of the Queens Democratic Party and is widely-known thanks to his current position, making him the instant frontrunner for the Council seat.

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Where’s the money? The MTA doesn’t have it

Just two weeks after the MTA raised fares, the New York City Council is admonishing them for not fixing escalators and elevators quickly enough. Those escalators and elevators are incredibly important for wheelchair-users and parents with strollers. New York City’s subway is one of the oldest and largest subway systems in the world and many of the escalators and elevators are showing their age.

At the same time, many advocates including some of those same City Council members are calling for half-priced metrocards for low-income New Yorkers. While these are laudable causes, the MTA isn’t going to be able to find the money out of thin air. They’re already dealing with a growing number of break-downs (it’s not just your imagination; the subway is really getting worse) and face a proposed funding cut from Cuomo’s budget

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