It’s always important to vote, but this year’s local elections are a big deal, even by New York City standards.
A slew of key elected offices are turning over as New Yorkers choose who they want to lead this city out of the pandemic and into its next chapter.
Besides picking a new mayor, voters will decide who will fill seats for four of the five borough presidents and more than two-thirds of the City Council. The comptroller, the public advocate and the Manhattan and Brooklyn district attorney slots also will be on the ballot. (See our evolving series of stories explaining the 2021 races here.)
In addition to the overwhelming number of candidates (about 40 people are currently running for mayor alone), New Yorkers are contending with ranked choice voting for the first time and facing a primary on June 22 — nearly three months earlier than in municipal election cycles past.
Meanwhile, it’s unclear how early voting and pandemic-spurred mail-in voting will affect what’s been historically low turnout for primaries in an overwhelming Democratic town (save, of course, for Staten Island).
It’s a lot to deal with on top of an unprecedented health and economic crisis.
So, THE CITY is launching a wide-ranging new project called the Civic Newsroom to better understand what voters want and need to know, find that information and share it to help us get through the next few months of a fast-moving, confusing and crucial local election season.
We’re going to shape our election coverage, in part, based on what we hear from you. And by the end of this cycle, we hope more people understand how our city government works and how to use their power to make it work better for them, their families and their neighbors.
We’re launching a series of virtual meetings — assembled in partnership with local nonprofits and cultural institutions.
We are planning to meet virtually in three neighborhoods: Mott Haven, Brownsville and Flushing, as well as holding a citywide virtual meeting. While all the meetings are open to everyone, if you live in those neighborhoods, please join us for those sessions. If you live elsewhere in the city, please join us for the citywide meeting.
Sign up below for the initial slate of sessions:
Citywide meeting: Wednesday, March 3 at 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. Sign up here .
Mott Haven meeting: Saturday, March 6 at 2 p.m. - 4 p.m. Sign up here .
Brownsville meeting: Wednesday March 10 at 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. Sign up here .
Flushing meeting: Saturday, March 13 at 2 p.m. - 4 p.m. Sign up here .
In this first set of meetings we will discuss who has power in our neighborhoods, why voting matters and why it’s sometimes hard.
We’re also launching a Civic Newsroom newsletter (you can receive it via email or text). You can sign up here.
The newsletter will be similar to our newsletters about rent and jobs. We’ll do our best to cut through the noise and share the information that’s most helpful to New Yorkers navigating the voting process.
Our team has already heard from hundreds of people about what kinds of issues they want the Civic Newsroom to dig into. People have asked us about everything from voting absentee and ranked choice voting to where the candidates stand on issues like defunding the NYPD and addressing challenges like homelessness and climate change.
So help us out and join us for this pivotal journey to picking New York’s next leaders. If you have questions about the local elections, ideas on how to get more New Yorkers to vote or want to help us shape the Civic Newsroom, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A portion of this project is in partnership with Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY and administered by the Online News Association with support from the Democracy Fund, Knight Foundation, the Inasmuch Foundation and Scripps Howard Foundation.