FAQ: What You Need to Know About the #NY11 Special Election

Campaign posters for the special election in Brooklyn and Staten Island
Campaign posters for all three candidates, as well as various sugary drinks, on the door of Now We Change deli on Fifth Avenue

Today, May 5, is the special election to replace Michael Grimm, who resigned earlier this year after pleading guilty to aiding the filing of a fraudulent federal tax return. Here’s the basics of what you need to know before you vote for a new congressmember.

Am I registered?
Use this link to find out whether you can vote, or which address you’re registered under (the old one? or the one you moved into a few months ago?), or which Election districts you belong to, which the poll workers will want to know. Also, make sure you’re registered in the 11th Congressional District (which includes most of Bay Ridge, but not certain streets in the northernmost part), because that’s the only congressional district voting today. You can look at a map of the district here.

Where do you vote?
Enter your home address here to find out which church or school or whatever that crazy board of elections has you voting in now. Polls open at 6am and close at 9pm.

Who’s running?
Bay Ridge councilmember Vincent “Vinnie” Gentile is running as the Democrat against Staten Island’s Republican District Attorney Dan Donovan, who’s most notorious for failing to secure an indictment against any of the police officers involved in the death of Eric Garner. James Lane is also running, on the Green Party ticket.

Where do they stand?
Gentile believes, according to his website, the top three issues affecting the district are: red tape that prevents Sandy victims from claiming full FEMA benefits; the minimum wage, which needs to be raised to help working families; and funding needed for transportation infrastructure, including rail projects in Staten Island and ferries and express buses in Brooklyn.

Dan Donovan also wants to fund transportation projects, specifically rail in Staten Island (his website makes no mention of any projects in Brooklyn); he wants to cut taxes; and he wants to eliminate the red tape blocking people from Sandy relief. Donovan doesn’t support raising the minimum wage (even though he doesn’t know what it is); Gentile wants to close corporate tax loopholes.

Another difference between the two, according to their websites, is that Donovan wants to repeal Obamacare, while Gentile wants to protect Social Security.

James Lane told us yesterday that housing is the biggest issue facing Bay Ridge residents: “The two corporate parties basically work for real-estate interests, and their so-called housing solutions continue to subsidize a sky-high market at the expense of livability for working people. We call for quality, fully funded, mixed-income public housing and community land trusts to reign in the insanity of real-estate speculation.”

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