October 15, 2019
Citizens Union Announces Positions On Ballot Proposals For 2019 General Election
**Good Government Group, Citizens Union, Supports Ranked Choice Voting, Increasing Oversight of NYPD, Modifications to the City Budget, and Changes to Land Use Review; Opposes Proposed Changes to Ethics Rules**
New York, N.Y. (October 7, 2019) – Citizens Union Board Chair Randy Mastro and Executive Director Betsy Gotbaum today announced Citizens Union’s recommendations on five proposals New York City voters will see on their ballots in this November’s election, or starting October 26 for those New Yorkers taking advantage of early voting.
After rigorously evaluating each proposal, Citizens Union recommends that voters support questions 1, 2, 4 and 5, and oppose question 3. The proposals were referred to the ballot by the 2019 Charter Revision Commission and cover a wide variety of issues related to city governance, from elections to police accountability.
“This fall, New Yorkers will have the rare opportunity to reform the City Charter to make our city elections more democratic, increase oversight of the police department, and implement other significant changes. Citizens Union has taken a position on all five proposals that will appear on the ballot, and we encourage all New Yorkers to examine these proposals and vote,” said Randy Mastro, Board Chair of Citizens Union.
Citizens Union recommends a yes vote on question 1, which would establish ranked choice voting in primary and special elections, and change deadlines on special elections and the beginning of the redistricting process.
Ranked choice voting allows voters to rank the candidates in order of preference. If no candidate wins a majority of the vote on the first tally, then the candidate with the least number of votes is eliminated. The votes for that candidate then go to the candidate ranked second. This continues until two candidates remain.
“As someone who ran for a citywide office in a crowded Democratic primary, I speak from experience when I say that ranked choice voting will improve the election process,” said Betsy Gotbaum, Executive Director of Citizens Union. “It will give voters more choices and save taxpayer money by avoiding costly runoff elections. Long an advocate for ranked choice voting, Citizens Union is pleased that the Charter Revision Commission has heard our recommendations.”
Citizens Union recommends a yes vote on question 2, which would increase oversight of the police department by strengthening the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB). Multiple changes included in question 2 have been recommended by Citizens Union over the last few years. These include protecting the CCRB budget, requiring the police commissioner to explain deviations in discipline from that recommended after a department trial, and allowing the CCRB to investigate the truthfulness of statements made by a police officer who is the subject of a Board investigation.
Question 2 would also increase the size of the CCRB and allow them to delegate subpoena power to the executive director.
“Citizens Union has been advocating for greater police accountability and transparency for well over a decade. Because of the powerful position of police officers, it is essential that we strengthen oversight of the New York Police Department. We must ensure that instances of officer misconduct are answered with appropriate actions,” said Gotbaum.
Citizens Union recommends a no vote on question 3, which includes controversial items and covers disparate issues. The question would lengthen the amount of time that city employees could not appear before their former agency to two years rather than the current one year; give the public advocate and comptroller appointments to the Conflict of Interest Board; limit what Conflict of Interest Board members can contribute to city campaigns; create a mayoral office for the Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise program; and require that appointment of the corporation counsel be subject to Council approval.
Citizens Union recommends a yes vote on question 4. Question 4 establishes minimum budgets for the Public Advocate and Borough Presidents, and requires earlier submission of revenue estimates by the mayor, two long-standing Citizens Union recommendations. Question 4 also allows the City to create a rainy-day fund, and requires that mayoral changes to the City’s financial plan necessitating a budget modification be submitted to the City Council within 30 days.
Citizens Union recommends a yes vote on Question 5, while also wishing the Charter Revision Commission had gone further with its land use reform proposals. Question 5 requires the Department of City Planning to transmit a project summary to the borough president, borough board and community board at least 30 days before a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure application is certified. It also provides more time during the summer for community boards to review ULURP applications.
About Citizens Union
For 120 years, Citizens Union (CU) has been a force for transparency, accountability and ethics in New York’s City and State governments. A nonpartisan organization, some of our current initiatives include increased voter participation and civic engagement, greater police accountability, and an accurate 2020 census. Learn more at www.citizensunion.org.