Let the city council debates begin!

Flag of the United States at a press conference with microphones
Getty images

By Stephen Witt

Starting this evening and for the entire month of May, Schneps Media, the parent company of PoliticsNY, will begin a series of Zoom webinar debates between candidates for nearly all the 51 City council seats, 35 of which are open with no incumbent running due to term limits.

The local importance of these debates cannot be underestimated. It gives candidates an opportunity to make their case on why voters should cast their ballot for them. And it gives voters an opportunity to better educate themselves as the head to the polls on June 22.

Establishing the criteria for candidates to participate in these debates was difficult. According to the city’s Campaign Finance Board website, more than 400 candidates have registered to run for city council seats. 

At first blush, the thought was to establish a threshold, where candidates running for the city council would need to show on the CFB website that they raised at least $5,000 in campaign contributions to participate in the debate. 

But this raised a few questions. Firstly, while many districts have five, six, seven and eight candidates that have easily raised $5,000 and much more, there are a number of districts where even the top-tier candidates have barely $5,000, if that.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, what does that say about our democracy to only have the participation of the candidates who were able to raise a lot of money? Shouldn’t all candidates, even if they haven’t raised a lot of money, but did the work to collect enough legitimate signatures to get on the ballot, also have their views and voices heard in these debates?

It is with this reason, PoliticsNY, and its parent company, Schneps Media has decided to allow all candidates who have made the primary ballot an opportunity to participate in these debates.

We are also going to make it easier for candidates to participate and voters to watch by clicking on the following links:

Debate participation (candidates ONLY): https://schnepsmedia.typeform.com/to/AwXV7gxs

Debate attendance (NON-candidates): https://politicsny.com/debates/

Additionally, our video/debate Executive Producer Skye Ostreicher, has been hosting three questions in three minutes videos (#3Q3M) with all candidates in the 2021 Citywide Elections. Candidates who have not participated yet in these videos have until May 14 to do so by visiting or clicking on this link: https://calendly.com/schnepsmediaskye

Finally, visit PoliticsNY.com to keep you informed on all those running for local office and providing political and policy news and insight on a daily basis.

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