NYC Mulls Nonpartisan Elections

A panel appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg approved a plan he favors to establish nonpartisan elections in the city, setting up a public vote on the proposal in November.

The proposal put on the ballot Monday by the Charter Revision Commission would eliminate the Democratic and Republican party primaries. Instead, a September election including all candidates would be followed by a November runoff between the top two vote-getters.

Candidates would be allowed to state their political parties on the September ballot. But those enrolled in the city campaign finance program, which provides matching funds, would not be allowed to accept help from political parties.

The plan, if approved by voters, would take effect after the November 2005 general election in New York City. Those running in the nonpartisan elections would include candidates for mayor, public advocate, city comptroller, City Council and borough president.

The Democratic Party adamantly opposes nonpartisan elections, saying party labels help voters identify candidates' viewpoints. The city has five registered Democrats for each Republican.

Of the nation's 50 largest cities, 41 hold nonpartisan elections, Bloomberg, a Republican, has said.

The billionaire mayor, who spent $75 million of his own money to win office, has not ruled out dipping into his own bank accounts again to help pass the new election law.

Bloomberg, a lifelong Democrat, switched parties and registered as a Republican before running for mayor. He has acknowledged that, as a political novice, he had little chance of winning the Democratic Party nomination.


By Timothy Williams

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