With all the recent grief and confusion in our city, it’s almost easy to forget that there was a mayoral primary scheduled for September 11th. Voting had barely started when terror descended on New York. As images of destruction and chaos dominated the media and our everyday lives, the idea of voting in a new mayor seemed the furthest thing from our collective mind.
As the days rolled on, however, it became clear that one of the most powerful ways to express our strength and cohesion as a city was to preserve our democratic process and continue with the election as planned. Though the mayoral hopefuls who had been campaigning so stridently in the months prior to the attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. fell silent in the wake of the disasters, campaign volunteers reemerged to remind us all to vote on September 25th, distributing fliers and replacing tattered campaign posters.
The question of who will be mayor after the general election in November is hardly cut-and-dry; Mark Green–the City’s Public Advocate, and considered by many to be the Democratic favorite–watched his lead over the competition dwindle as Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer came from behind to gain support among minority voters and moderate Democrats late in the race. The two candidates fought to a near-draw on September 25th, necessitating a run-off to determine who will square off against Republican primary victor and media mogul Mike Bloomberg in November.
As if things weren’t ambiguous enough, the issue has now been further complicated by suggestions from the public and media alike that perhaps Mayor Giuliani should petition the City Council and State Legislature to allow him to serve another term, in light of his undeniably stellar performance in the aftermath of the WTC tragedy. Though current term-limit laws would technically prevent a third Giuliani term, it’s not inconceivable that such an unprecedented time as this might necessitate an unprecedented exception.
For now, however, democratic process has won the day, and New Yorkers now have some choices to consider before the Main Event in November. Our next mayor will not only face the dizzying task of nursing the City back to robust health and repairing the damage wrought on September 11th, but he will also have the unenviable job of running the day-to-day life of the biggest, most complicated city in America. Says Mary Ann Rothman, executive director of the Council of New York Cooperatives and Condominiums (CNYC), "The entire city is going to change. We’re going to have novices in a large number of roles … we hope that the new administration will keep [our issues] a priority and come up with some real solutions. This new mayor will have to walk a fine line between the needs of tenants and the promises made to developers."