Posted by: exiwp | March 17, 2003

Letter to Michael Bloomberg (2003)

The Honorable Michael Bloomberg
Mayor of the City of New York
City Hall
New York, NY 10007

Dear Mayor Bloomberg:

The Democratic Party machine and the Working Families Party recently mobilized 63
elected officials to sign on to a letter asking you to abandon your commitment to nonpartisan
elections. Did you note that their letter fails to mention that nonpartisans would not be enacted
by you, but by the voters? Democratic Party leaders love to substitute themselves for the people,
claiming (as always) that they know best.

Your promise on nonpartisans was to give the voters the right to decide the issue. We
presume that your commitment remains intact. The not-so-veiled threat made in the letter signed
by the Comptroller, the Public Advocate, three Borough Presidents, 19 members of the City
Council (with 37 Albany legislators and two members of Congress thrown in for good measure)
should be related to as what it is – a bullying tactic designed to deprive the voters of their right to
decide.

A few comments on their arguments against nonpartisans. They say party labels offset
“information and resource disadvantages” for poor, of-color and immigrant communities.
English translation: the above mentioned people are too stupid to choose a candidate on the
merits. In other words, if they don’t have party labels to guide them, they won’t know what to
think. We have more respect for the voters than that – not to mention the fact that many, many
New Yorkers ignored party labels altogether when they voted for you.

The opponents of nonpartisans argue that this reform will depress turnout. It’s hard to
imagine a more depressed level of participation than the one we currently have under a partisan
system. (A quick note here: in the special elections just conducted in February, the turnout rate in
the nonpartisan city council races was significantly higher than that of the partisan assembly
races.) Does a shift to nonpartisans guarantee a high turnout? No. Communities will have to
mobilize themselves under these changed conditions, but the changes create more incentive to do
so. Do partisan elections guarantee a continuation of low turnout? Yes.

Finally, your antagonists urge that you abandon nonpartisans because of the “rancor that
would inevitably accompany a charter amendment campaign.” At the Charter Revision
Commission hearings in Brooklyn last year the authors of the letter staged a major disruption, forcing their way into a filled-to-capacity room, shouting at the Commissioners and injuring a
security guard. This, apparently, is their idea of democratic public dialogue on the issue. Rancor?
The only rancor in the debate has come from them.

I imagine that what motivates the Working Families Party’s hysterical opposition to
nonpartisans is that it takes away the ballot line they have to wheel and deal within city politics.
As you recall from our discussions on this, the Independence Party supports nonpartisans (which
would similarly affect us) because we place the interests of the voters and the health of the
democratic process ahead of our own narrow interests. That’s what it means to be an independent
party.

I’ve seen the news reports that you’re moving ahead with a Commission. That’s great!
Let’s get the question before the voters and let the people decide.

Sincerely,

Jacqueline Salit
The Independence Party
225 Broadway, Suite 2010 ~ New York, NY 10007
Phone (212) 962-1699 Fax (212) 803-1899

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