“Change takes courage.” Real HBIC energy and all, native New Yorker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks the truth about the role all Big Apple voters must play this November 3rd. We are the future generation, and our decisions from this very moment in time will impact the world we see ten years from now. It’s time to exercise courage, strength and resilience—traits deeply ingrained into our New Yorker DNA—to ensure the kind of future dream of. Head to your polling station or vote early (!), and learn how your vote can inspire real change in your beloved home.
But, wait. New York City calls itself home to over eight million citizens, will my vote even make a difference?
Short answer, DUH. NYC’s politics may seem pretty black and white, but when it comes to enacting real change throughout the city, everyone’s vote matters. Ahem, we all remember what happened back in 2016… “Some feel that since New York always goes blue that your vote does not matter,” said St. John’s University senior and first-time voter Jennifer Tenuto. “However, if you stop voting then New York will turn, so your vote does actually count.” Listen. If everyone in the entirety of the United States believed that their vote didn’t count, that the Electoral College essentially does all the heavy lifting, then no president would ever win an election.
Like Greenwich Villager Phoebe Buffay so eloquently stated, “And then there was suffrage, which is a good thing, but it sounds horrible.” Our ancestors moved mountains, started revolutions, gained suffrage (which, yeah, does sound pretty dark), for us to inaugurate something genuinely good: democracy.
And New York City? The homeland of political power moves, NYC represents the birth of change in the U.S. From serving as the nation’s capital after the Revolutionary War to the Stonewall Riots and Pride Parade, to yes, even sparking the women’s suffragette movement, New Yorkers get things done. “New York is an intellectual and cultural epicenter in the United States. Many powerful movements gained their footing protesting along our streets,” SUNY New Paltz senior Kelsie Dougherty said. “As New Yorkers, we have the responsibility to vote progressively, in order to compensate for those residing in the state that do not allow for a progressive voice. We have the power to enact change in this country, and we can only utilize this power when we vote in elections.” Early voting dates in NYC extend from October 24 to November 1, so, what are you waiting for? Exercise your right to vote this upcoming election day—and not just to hop on the “I Voted” sticker-selfie bandwagon.
Okay, okay. So, who am I voting for?
Due to the polarity of today’s news media, you may assume the only people bothered by the election are Donald Trump, Joe Biden and maybe your sanity, if it survives the brutal 24 hour waiting period. Actually, the 2020 NYC ballot consists of several different elections. The U.S. House, Congressional special elections, State Senate, State Assembly and local judicial elections may appear on your ticket this November 3rd. Hot button policy issues also play a vital role in NYC elections, including budget, civil liberties, education, election, energy, environment, finance, healthcare, immigration and pension reform. Think you got it down pat? Time to vote!
Read on to learn about a few candidates running for election in the city that never sleeps.
Representatives for Congressional Election
1. Jerrold Nadler: Democrat, 10th Congressional District
A passionate advocate for civil rights, LGBTQ voices, women’s rights and public service, Jerrold Nadler represents a 44-year-long steady force in New York democratic legislation. Currently serving on behalf of New York’s 10th Congressional District for fourteen terms, Nadler previously worked as a Democratic Assemblyman and member of the House of Representatives. Nadler’s political base encourages equality and the defense of civil liberties, and strongly advocates for technological advancements and community artist’s in NYC.
2. Cathy A. Bernstein: Republican, 10th Congressional District
Lifelong New York resident Cathy Bernstein seeks to “improve the quality of life” for all New Yorkers through her candidacy. A passionate volunteer and civil servant throughout the city, Bernstein also devoted herself to several political campaigns for City Council, Congressional and State Assembly members within the 10th District over the years. Her platform hopes to revive her congressional district and protect the future generations of New Yorkers.
3. Carolyn B. Maloney: Democrat, 12th Congressional District
A Congresswoman for almost thirty years, Carolyn B. Maloney seeks to improve financial services, security, the economy and women’s issues through her candidacy. Currently the Chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Maloney boasts the authorship of over 74 political measures through Congress, and represents the first woman to serve in the 12th Congressional District of New York City.
4. Carlos Santiago-Cano: Republican, 12th Congressional District
Carlos Santiago-Cano’s campaign wishes to create lasting results throughout the district, by improving upon the city’s homelessness issue, new transportation methods and enacting affordable healthcare reforms. He pledges to take NYC back to what it should represent, and to steer away from the type of leadership associated with career politicians.
State Senate Election
1. Brian Kavanagh: Democrat, 26th Senatorial District
Previously a member of the 74th District’s State Assembly, Brian Kavanagh currently serves as Chair of the Senate Committee on Housing, Construction and Community Development. Kavanagh’s platform represents quality, affordable housing for NYC citizens, and he promises to reform housing regulations and protection guidelines to keep our city safe. Kavanagh also promotes environmentalism and transparency in government.
2. Lester Chang: Republican, 26th Senatorial District
A proud first generation New Yorker and Afghanistan war veteran, Lester Chang hopes to serve the residents of Chinatown and Battery Park City. He plans to focus on public education, gun violence and homelessness reforms, and pledges against community jails. He also worked as a first responder during the Covid-19 outbreak and Poll Site coordinator in the Board of Elections.
3. Liz Krueger: Democrat, 28th Senatorial District
Chair of the Senate Finance Committee Liz Krueger advocates for New Yorker tenant’s rights, affordable housing, accessible health care and drug coverage, social services, animal welfare and equitable funding for public education. Senator Krueger also serves as founding co-chair of the New York State Bipartisan Legislative Pro-Choice Caucus, and represented an integral voice in passing the Women’s Health and Wellness Act.
4. Michael Zumbluskas: Independent/Republican, 28th Senatorial District
Candidate Michael Zumbluskas represents a leader within the New York independent party for over 25 years, and seeks to ensure that New York adheres to a more practical form of government. A resource management analyst for the New York City Department of Transportation, Zumbluskas advises several political campaigns of different parties, and once served as New York County chairman of the Independence Party.
State Assembly Election
1. Deborah Glick: Democrat, 66th Assembly District
With 15 terms in the State Assembly under her belt, Deborah Glick pledges to improve New York through legislation on tenant’s rights, education reform, mass transit reform and animal rights. Glick also represents the first openly gay or lesbian member of the state’s legislature, and boasts several political successes for the LGBTQ community like the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act and her Hospital Visitation Bill. Glick serves as the lead spokesperson for the Reproductive Health Act to codify Roe V. Wade in New York.
2. Tamara Lashchyk: Republican, 66th Assembly District
A Native New Yorker, businesswoman and entrepreneur, Tamara Lashchyk presents a wide record of success in overcoming financial crises within the city. Lashchyk also authored several novels as guides for women in finance and on Wall Street, and highly advocates for women’s rights within the workforce. This lifelong New Yorker also pledges to “get New York back on its feet” after Covid-19, and vows to improve and recover medical care throughout the community.
3. Robert Rodriguez: Democrat, 68th Assembly District
A decade-long New York State Assembly member, a Chairman of Community Board 11 and a Chair of the City of Properties and Land Use Committee. These titles represent just a few of the roles East Harlem native Robert Rodriguez served within his city. Rodriguez advocates for improving his neighborhood’s quality of life, and promotes the improvement of infrastructure, employment rates, housing development and social services within his community.
4. Daby Benjamine Carreras: Republican, 68th Assembly District
With over 20 years of experience in community activism, Daby Benjamine Carreras fights for less crime, more local jobs, better education, and helping the homeless find safe and affordable housing. This 68th Assembly District candidate and native New Yorker also promises to improve the political climate within the city, leading a consulting company called Drain the Swamp LLC. Benjamine Carreras also advocates for better medical care, and developed a non-profit organization called BRANDO to fight kidney disease, obesity and diabetes for New Yorkers.
Only the Young Can Run
Now that you understand a bit more about your city’s candidates and issues, only you hold the power to decide your next move. Think of voting like the New York City marathon: you train for months, even years to push your mind and body into shape, and then you tell your feet, “Ok, now go!” For 26 miles, you channel all of your strength and brainpower into achieving something amazing. Your future leaders are warming up right now.
There’s a reason why announcing your political candidacy is called running.
You might call voting unnecessary or confusing but remember: no one runs a marathon without taking a jog around the block first. “The most significant aspect of voting for younger voters is that it is an entirely new system for many of them, so it can be overwhelming to navigate that system,” said Dr. Andrew R. Flores, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Government at American University. “It’s okay to go to the polls and feel like you don’t know where to go or what to do. The poll workers are there to help you successfully cast your ballot. The polling place may be a place in town you’ve never been to before, and a lot of people are going to be confused. It’s not just you. Study that sample ballot and bring it with you, and once you’re in the voting booth, you’ll have an easy time getting that ballot submitted.” Make a plan, New Yorkers! Learn where your polling site is, what time to get there, how to register or how to vote early.
Once you accomplish these few easy steps, all you need to do is check some boxes.
Beloved New Yorker Taylor Swift said it best: only the young can run. “The future of this election is entirely up to young people and I trust you to make the world better! We can only go up from here,” said Emily Mitchell-Marell, Undergraduate Academic Advisor for NYU Politics. “With voting, it’s just a matter of registering and SHOWING UP and actually voting. That’s the whole thing. Come informed and ready to wait if needed, but the biggest part is just being there and having your voice heard.” New Yorkers are no strangers to hard times, accustomed to change and to growth. New Yorkers are powerful; their voices reach way beyond the tallest skyscrapers, louder than the belts from Broadway. Come on, New Yorkers, show ’em what you got.