Proposed Amendments to GSD Bylaws

In order to acknowledge GSD’s growth and potential for more growth — and to make sure that the club is prepared for whatever new district lines are drawn in 2022 — we are proposing a few small changes to our bylaws. Essentially, we should make room, as other clubs do, for more than one Vice President, each with a different portfolio. And we also need to strip from our mission statement any reference to “AD65 Part A” which may not exist with these same geographic boundaries after this year.

Amendments can be passed tonight by a vote of 2/3 of the members in attendance.

Article 2, Section a:

[The mission of the Club shall be to] provide a progressive, inclusive, active and transparent Democratic organization in the 65th Assembly District, Part A on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Article 5, Section 1

The officers of the Club shall consist of a President, a Vice President, a Secretary, and a Treasurer. If nominated and elected as such, the Club may have up to three Vice Presidents with separate responsibilities. They shall each serve for one year. Officer elections shall be held at the Annual Meeting, and officers shall serve until the announcement of the results of the subsequent election.

Article 5, Section 3b

Vice President. The Vice President(s) shall perform such duties as the President or the Executive Committee may direct. If the President is temporarily absent, the Executive Committee will select one Vice President to serve as Acting President.

Article 5, Section 4

Officers shall be elected by secret ballot at the annual meeting by a plurality of those voting. A vacancy in the office of President shall be filled immediately by the Vice President. When there is more than one Vice President, the Executive Committee will select which one will succeed the President by majority vote. All other vacancies of officers shall be filled by a majority vote of the Executive Committee.

Update: These amendments were passed by 2/3 of voting members present at our 10/13/21 meeting.

2021 Sate Ballot Proposals

On Election Day, there will be five ballot proposals up for a vote across the state. Whichever ones pass will be written into the State Constitution.

Proposal 1: Redistricting

There are a number of changes rolled into one ballot proposal. You must vote “yes” or “no” for all of them together.

  • Cap the total number of State Senators at 63. Reduces the ability of a supermajority to extremely gerrymander the minority out of existence.
  • Require that incarcerated people be counted at the address where they lived before going to jail or prison for the purposes of redistricting — not where they are being detained. Already part of state law, but not the Constitution, this can increase the counted population of New York City.
  • Shorten the timeline. This would accommodate NY’s earlier primaries.
  • Change the vote total needed to adopt redistricting plans when one political party controls both legislative houses. Reduces input needed from minority party.
  • Remove bipartisan co-executive directors of independent redistricting commission. Could reduce the bipartisan nature of the IRC.
  • Count all residents — including non-citizens. Already in state law, but provides more protection to the statute as a Constitutional Amendment.
  • Prevent new districts from splitting neighborhoods. Redistricting would have to adhere more to existing neighborhood boundaries.

The full text of Proposal 1 can be found here from the state Board of Election, Ballotpedia’s guide on the proposal is here and this deep-dive on the measure from Spectrum News is a great resource for understanding the issues at play.

Proposal 2: Right to Clean Air and Water

The second ballot measure would add a broad new right to the state constitution: “Each person shall have a right to clean air and water, and a healthful environment.”

Proponents point to states like Pennsylvania and Montana where similar provisions have been used to successfully stop fracking, for example.

Opponents say the new right is too broad and can invite unnecessary lawsuits and judges creating new rules from the bench.

Proposal 3: Voter Registration

This would eliminate a Constitutional rule that you must register to vote at least 10 days before an election. This would give the legislature a chance to pass laws allowing voter registration to take place much closer to the election, up to and including same-day voter registration.

Proposal 4: Absentee Voting

This proposal would allow no-excuse absentee voting, which means anyone could request a ballot by mail even if they are not going to be out of state on election day. (This was temporarily allowed by Executive Action during the pandemic.)

Proposal 5: Increase Civil Court Claim Limit

$25,000 is currently the limit of claims in Civil Court. The last time this was changed was in 1983. This proposal would increase the claims limit to $50,000. Essentially, this shifts some suits from the State Supreme Court to Civil Court.

References:

https://www.thecity.nyc/civic-newsroom/2021/10/5/22711648/what-the-five-ballot-proposal-questions-mean-for-new-yorkers-this-november

https://gothamist.com/news/five-ballot-proposals-breakdown-november-2021

March with us Saturday for Reproductive Rights & Fair Access

#BansOffOurBodies

Please join us this Saturday, October 2 at the March for Reproductive Rights & Fair Access.

Join pro-choice advocates in all 50 states to send a loud and powerful message to the Supreme Court and politicians everywhere – Bans Off Our Bodies!

GSD is a co-sponsor of the march, and we are joining a coalition of downtown Democratic Clubs in NYC and a large slate of co-sponsors across the country.

Saturday, October 2
MARCH FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS & FAIR ACCESS

12:30 pm
Sign-making at Seward Park Library Plaza

1:30 pm
March to Foley Square

2:00 pm
Rally at Foley Square &
March to Washington Square Park

Why It’s Urgent to March Now
The right to safe, legal abortions is at risk like never before. Texas enacted an abortion ban, making abortions virtually inaccessible in the state. Now the Supreme Court will hear an abortion challenge that could render the protections of Roe v. Wade meaningless across many parts of the country. The Supreme Court will hear a case concerning Mississippi’s abortion restriction on December 1st.

Thank you to GSD members Ellen Garvey and Joyce Ravitz for including our club in this important event!

Contribute to Jumaane Williams’ Re-election

Jumaane Williams is running for re-election as NYC’s Public Advocate against candidates on the Republican and Conservative party lines.

Because this race flew under the radar during the primary (there were no strong primary challengers), Williams has not yet qualified for NYC’s robust matching funds program, but he still needs to compete for the Nov. 2 election.

Please help Jumaane Williams reach that threshold with a contribution to his campaign before September 27.

Once Williams meets the threshold, all eligible contributions from NYC residents up to $250 will be matched at an 8:1 rate. A $250 contribution will become a $2,250 contribution to the campaign which will greatly help the campaign.

Jumaane Williams has served as the Public Advocate of NYC since 2019. Previously, he served on the NYC Council and as a community organizer. Some of his duties as Public Advocate are introducing and sponsoring legislation and fighting for New Yorkers on issues like public safety, affordable housing, transparency in City government, racial justice and more. He is a true activist-elected official, and is strongly endorsed by Grand Street Dems for re-election.

Ready for GSD’s next chapter? Raise 🙋 your hand.

At four years old, Grand Street Dems is closing out its first chapter. We’ve learned the basics of local organizing, been involved in campaigns local and national, and taken our first steps at establishing a local community of progressive activists and concerned Democrats.

I’ve been really proud to lead GSD through this exciting and challenging start. But now the club gets to write its next chapter with a new President and a new leadership team. This is an important moment to decide what issues and candidates to support, and how to engage Democrats in our neighborhood. It’s also the right time to decide how the club itself is organized and can make decisions with more member input.

What changes would you like to see the club make? What priorities do we need to maintain? And are you willing to join the leadership team to make it all happen? Please send an email to let me know.

My time as GSD President is restricted by the term limits we wrote into our founding bylaws, but that’s not the only reason for me to step down. Inviting a new team to lead Grand Street Dems is also just the right thing to do to keep the club energized and relevant. 

But we need YOU to raise your hand and volunteer to do the work.

Coming up, we have two meetings scheduled to help determine the future of GSD:

  • September 23, 7:00 – 8:30 pm
  • October 13, 7:00 – 8:30 pm (elections for new officers)

After that, there’s still so much to do. There’s a whole new conversation to have about downtown development; a new opportunity to shape traffic and pedestrian access around Essex Crossing; campaigns for housing, criminal, and environmental justice; redistricting decisions that may change our representation; and important local Democratic primaries in 2022 for Congress, Assembly, State Senate, and Governor.

I still plan to participate in all of that, but I’m looking forward to following your lead for the next few years.

— Jeremy

The GSD Bump — what Tuesday’s preliminary results tell us …

Voting is over, and there’s still a lot of uncertainty about results. Since New York allows time for absentee ballots to be returned and corrected before being counted, and because the next rounds of counting ranked choice votes won’t start for a week, we’re left sitting with a lot of preliminary results.

But there’s still a lot we do know:

City Council District 1

Chris Marte picked up a lot of votes in the Grand Street co-ops compared to his 2017 campaign, and is very likely to win the Democratic nomination for City Council in District 1.

© Sam Hudis and Competitive Advantage Research, 2021. (sam@compadre.us)

After narrowly losing to Margaret Chin in 2017, Marte never stopped working for downtown Manhattan, and in those four years he added a lot of support, especially in our neighborhood. Even though this year’s field had many more candidates, Marte’s raw total and percentage of votes increased on Grand Street. In fact, while Margaret Chin performed better in this neighborhood in 2017 than she did over the whole district, this year that feat belonged to Chris Marte, who won our neighborhood with a wider margin than his (already strong) district-wide performance.

Let’s call this the GSD bump.

Remember, in 2017, GSD did not yet exist — we were running our own original challenge that year to the old Truman Club candidates and we stayed out of that competitive City Council race. This year, having established a solid membership and trust among our neighbors, our partnership with Chris Marte and endorsement of his candidacy made a difference. 

Borough President

Lindsey Boylan won’t be the next Borough President, but she got a huge GSD bump. Neighbors here really responded to Boylan’s clear advocacy for East River Park, and while she received only about 10% of votes borough-wide, in the Grand Street co-ops she received nearly 24%. (Mark Levine leads the results right now with a slim margin over Brad Hoylman, and we’ll need to wait for the counting to finish to know who won.)

District Attorney

In the one big race that did not have ranked choice voting, Alvin Bragg will win the nomination for District Attorney. Bragg got one third of the vote in an 8-way race, enough to secure victory. There are still absentees to count, but the result is unlikely to change.

In other races

  • Eric Adams’ lead in the Mayoral primary is likely to hold (there’s no clear block of ranked choice votes that might coalesce against him, which is the only way for a candidate to leap-frog the first round winner). Our endorsed candidate, Kathryn Garcia, performed very well in our neighborhood, getting more first-round votes than any other candidate in 9 of our 11 election districts.
  • Brad Lander’s lead in the Comptroller race is also likely to hold. Lander also got a GSD bump, scoring 9.4 points higher in our neighborhood than he did city-wide.
  • Jumaane Williams easily won re-election with no need to count ranked choice votes.
  • Edward Irizarry did not win the nomination for Civil Court judge, unfortunately, but he also got a GSD bump, scoring 6 points higher in our neighborhood than he did district-wide.

This was GSD’s first NYC primary season. Not all of our endorsed candidates won, but that’s not entirely the point. Over the past year many of you engaged deeply with these candidates and campaigns, and that experience creates a more effective connection between this neighborhood and our elected officials moving forward. That’s exactly what GSD was formed to do.

How to Rank Your Vote

For the first time this year, you can rank up to FIVE candidates for Mayor, Public Advocate, Comptroller, Borough President, and City Council.

Even if your #1 choice candidate does not win, you can still help choose who does.

  • Who do you love? That’s your #1.
  • Who do you like? That’s your #2. 
  • Who are the candidates you’re OK with? Rank them #3, 4, and 5. 
  • Make sure to fill in the correct bubbles on your ballot.

Ranking your vote allows you to care less about “electability” — you can rank your favorite candidate #1 even if you think they don’t have a chance to win, without the feeling that you are wasting your vote. Because, if you’re right and your #1 candidate drops off the rankings, your vote for #2 will get counted, and so on down the line. (Of course if more people feel the way you do, maybe we can stop caring about “electability” and just elect the people we want by voting for them!)

On your ballot, you’ll see candidates listed in rows, and ranked choices 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 listed as columns with bubbles to fill in for each.

Fill in the #1 bubble on the row with your first choice candidate. Fill in the #2 bubble on the row for your next choice, and so on.

You can practice on a sample online ballot here.

Since it’s so new, the idea of ranked choice may seem intimidating, but the way it works is actually very simple.

  • All 1st choice votes are counted. If a candidate receives more than 50% of votes, they win.
  • However, if no candidate earns more than 50% of 1st choice votes, then counting will continue in rounds.
  • Each round, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. If your highest-ranked candidate is eliminated, your vote goes to the next highest ranked candidate on your ballot.
  • This process continues until there are only 2 candidates left. The candidate with the most votes at that point wins.

Watch how sample ballots are counted until there is a winner.

One more thing: this isn’t like co-op board elections, where there is sometimes an advantage to “bullet voting” for only one candidate even though you are allowed to vote for more. In the co-ops, board election votes are equal and cumulative, so your votes for candidates you only like a little bit may help knock out the candidate you most want to see on the board.

With NYC ranked choice, that’s not the case. Your second choice vote will be counted only if your first choice has been eliminated. So just vote for whom you want, don’t try to game the system.