NY's Path to Ranked Choice Voting: Manhattan Forum

February 25, 2021  
Webinar
Webinar
Thursday
2:00PM - 3:15PM
Presented By Spectrum
Event Description

The virtual forum is part of a five-part series bringing together policymakers, leaders from government, advocacy professionals, academia, media, technology and more.

New York voters will see a big change in the next election cycle with the implementation of ranked-choice voting. Our diverse panel will discuss the major issues on ranked choice voting and its effect on Manhattan. Topics to be addressed include the following:

-How exactly will ranked-choice voting work in New York City? 

-What are the pros and cons? Who benefits? Who is disadvantaged? 

-How to inform voters? Risk of confusion? 

-How will this affect campaigning? Less negative campaigning? Coalition campaigning?

-What kinds of candidates will benefit from this? Who will be hurt by it? 

Speakers
MW
Maya Wiley
Former Counsel to the Mayor
Maya is a nationally recognized racial justice and equity advocate. She is a leader in city government and in spurring democratic change. As Counsel to the Mayor, she delivered for New York City on civil and immigrant rights, women and minority owned business contracts, universal broadband access and more. After leaving City Hall, she held police accountable as Chair of the Civilian Complaint Review Board, and worked to improve public education as a Co-Chair of the School Diversity Task Force. At the New School, where she served as a University Professor, she founded the Digital Equity Laboratory on universal and inclusive broadband. Maya is a veteran of both the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and the ACLU, was a former Legal Analyst for NBC News and MSNBC — where she argued against Trump’s attacks on our civil liberties and democratic norms — and was the founder and president of the Center for Social Inclusion. Maya was also Senior Advisor on Race and Poverty at the Open Society Foundations, the largest funder of human rights work the world over. Maya Wiley is committed to a New York City where every New Yorker can afford to live with dignity, that’s why she is running for Mayor. Maya will fight for New Yorkers of all races, all religions, all classes, all types; so that no matter who we are or how we see ourselves, we can find a home here. Her vision is a New York that rises from the ashes of twin pandemics — coronavirus and systemic racism that denies investment to people of color. New York must rise together; rising above hate, rising from joblessness to dignity, rising from homelessness to hope, rising from an affordability crisis to communities that sustain all of us. This is within our reach, but it requires bold leadership that fearlessly confronts the realities New Yorkers face. Leadership that marshals all of the government’s resources to make history, not deals; and that transcends the business-as-usual governmental tinkering to make truly transformational progress. New Yorkers cannot afford the politics of least resistance and deserve leadership that will beat a path to shared prosperity — to become one city, rising together, out of the ashes and into a future we build and live together.
Rodney Capel
VP, State Government Affairs, Charter Communications
Rodney S. Capel is currently the Vice President for Government Affairs within the Northeast Region for Charter Communication. In this role, Mr. Capel oversees and manages all government affairs, strategic partnerships and investments, consumer protection and telecommunications regulation for New York City and New Jersey. Mr. Capel previously served as Special Advisor to the Governor. In this role, he was responsible for a full range of policy, legislative and operational matters affecting the administration. This position also serves as a liaison to members of the State Legislature, U.S. Congress, partner agencies, associations, councils, coalitions, and advocacy groups wanting to learn more about Governor Cuomo’s agenda for the State of New York. From August 2012 to April 2014, Rodney served as Executive Director of the New York State Democratic Committee. Rodney was responsible for the overall management and daily operations of the State Democratic Committee as well as managed the committee’s compliance to state and federal election laws, and financial disclosure reports. Mr. Capel previously served in the Administration as the Director of NYC Intergovernmental Affairs. Mr. Capel has also served as Senior Vice President of Mercury LLC, where he provided strategic consulting and issues management for national, state and city corporations and not-for-profit organizations. And prior to joining Mercury, Mr. Capel served as New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn’s Deputy Chief of Staff for state and federal affairs. In this capacity, Mr. Capel assisted the New York City Council Speaker on all matters pertaining to New York City’s State and Federal legislative issues by serving as the City Council’s lead lobbyist. Mr. Capel's political and legislative career highlights include: serving as Senator Chuck Schumer’s Deputy State Director in 1999; serving as State Director for the New York State Kerry/Edwards Presidential campaign in 2004. Rodney also proudly served in President Clinton’s Administration as a Special Assistant to the Office of Legislative and Congressional Affairs for the U.S. Department of Education. Rodney is a graduate of Syracuse University where he received his B.A. in Political Science and attended graduate School at The George Washington University in Washington D.C. Rodney currently resides in Harlem with his wife Fayola Alibey, their son Lucas.
Brooklyn Borough President and mayoral candidate Eric Adams.
Eric Adams
Brooklyn Borough President
Like so many New Yorkers, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams grew up with adversity—and overcame it. As one of six children, born in Brownsville and raised in South Jamaica by a single mom who cleaned houses, Eric and his family did not always know if they would come home to an eviction notice on the front door or food on the table. And when he was beaten by police in the basement of a precinct house at 15, Eric faced a life-changing act of injustice. But instead of giving into anger, Eric turned his pain into purpose and decided to change the police department from within. He joined the NYPD and became one of its most outspoken officers, calling out racism and bias in the department and pushing for major reforms. Eric would often police the streets in a bulletproof vest one day during the high crime 1980s and 1990s and protest bad behavior by cops the next, marching side-by-side with civil rights advocates. He rose to the rank of captain, helping to build the first computerized system for tracking crime in the city, which led to historic gains in public safety. Eric’s efforts to change policing began his lifelong work to improve and protect New York. From the NYPD, he moved on to the State Senate, where he represented sections of central and Brownstone Brooklyn. In Albany, Eric built winning coalitions to advance New York City’s values and goals, helping to push through measures to protect tenants and workers, improve public safety, and advance human rights, including marriage equality. He also became the first person of color to chair the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee. Eric was then elected Brooklyn Borough President in 2013 by putting together a diverse coalition of Brooklynites to become the borough’s first Black leader. As the representative of one of the nation’s largest counties, Eric fought tirelessly to grow the local economy, reduce inequality, improve public safety, and advocate for smart policies and better government that delivers for all New Yorkers. In addition to continuing to fight for struggling New Yorkers and a better quality of life for all, Eric became a national leader on public health policy after learning he had developed Type 2 diabetes. Following his diagnosis, Eric completely changed his diet and his body, reversing the disease and launching a personal mission to educate New Yorkers about preventative care and wellness. His work has already led to successful proactive public health efforts across the city and increased education in schools and with high-risk populations in lower-income areas, partnering with civic organizations and health experts. Eric is a lifelong New Yorker. He received his master’s degree in public administration from Marist College, and is a graduate of New York City Technical College and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He is also a proud product of New York City public schools, including Bayside High School in Queens. Today he lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant, where he has resided for over 20 years.
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Hazel Dukes
President, NAACP New York State Conference
Dr. Hazel N. Dukes is President of the NAACP New York State Conference and a member of the NAACP National Board of Directors, a member of the NAACP Executive Committee and well as an active member of various NAACP board sub-committees. Dr. Dukes is a woman of great strength and courage. Her dedication to human rights and equality is exemplified by her role linking business, government and social causes. Dr. Dukes is an active and dynamic leader who is known for her unselfish and devoted track record for improving the quality of life in New York State. A harsh system of civil and human injustice persists; intimidation, violence, and the recent rash of “nooses,” speak to the widespread de facto absence of a civil and human rights agenda in America says Dukes, and the fires of frustration continue to burn. Dr. Dukes is President of the Hazel N. Dukes & Associates Consultant Firm, specializing in the areas of public policy, health and diversity. Dr. Dukes is a member of the Assembly of Prayer Baptist Church where she served as Executive Assistant to the Pastor, is a member of the Board of Trustees and teaches the Adult Sunday School. Dr. Dukes received a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration from Adelphi University, Garden City, New York and completed post-graduate work at Queens College. In 1990 she was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from the City University of New York Law School at Queens College and in 2009 was conferred the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, Medgar Evers College, Brooklyn, New York. In 2012 she was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, Harlem New York. Dr. Dukes has many organizational affiliations; she is former President of the Metro-Manhattan Links Chapter, in 2010 was appointed the National Links NGO Representative and is a former trustee of the State University of New York and Stillman College. Dr. Dukes is a member of the National Council of Negro Women, Inc., and National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, INC. Dr. Dukes is the recipient of numerous awards for her outstanding leadership activities, Ellis Island Medal of Honor, YWCA City of New York John La Farge Memorial Award for Interracial Justice, Guy R. Brewer Humanitarian Award, and the 2007 The Network Journal’s 25 Most Influential Black Women in Business Award, member Ford Motor Company Funds Committee of Honor for Freedom’s Sisters, was honored and received a Proclamation at the New York City Council’s Third Annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Awards ceremony at City Hall in New York. Dukes is an active member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Northern Manhattan Alumnae Chapter and has been selected to receive the sorority’s Althea T.L. Simmons Social Action Award in August 2010. Dr. Dukes was Incorporated in 2007 as a Pi Eta Kappa Fellow and her biography has been selected for publication in many journals and directories including: Fisk University Library, Minority Women Contribution, American Biographical Institute Personalities of Northeast, Who’s Who Among American Women and Who’s Who Among Black Women.
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Carmen De La Rosa
New York State Assembly Member
NYS Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa is a career public servant and a resident of Inwood in Northern Manhattan, who is deeply committed to serving her community. She was born in the Dominican Republic and immigrated to the Inwood section of New York City as a young child. She was proud to be the first one in her immediate family to graduate from college, receiving a degree in Political Science and a certification in Peace and Justice Studies from Fordham University. In 2007, she began her career working for NYS Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell, where her passion for government and politics was sparked. She learned the functions of a State Assembly office while working with communities on the Upper West Side to improve the quality of life of residents, fighting co-locations in local public schools and preserving affordable housing. After rising through the ranks in state and local government, Carmen was appointed Chief of Staff to NYC Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez in 2014, representing the communities of Inwood, Washington Heights and Marble Hill. Through her work, Carmen gained a firm understanding of the true needs of the uptown community and how to address these, through legislative action, smart and progressive budgeting process, fierce advocacy efforts, and community organizing. In November 2016, Carmen was elected to the NYS Assembly, becoming the second woman to ever represent the 72nd Assembly District. Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa currently serves on the Banking, Corrections, Corporations, Authorities & Commissions, Housing, and Mental Health Committees. She also is a proud member of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus, Legislative Women’s Caucus, and the Puerto Rican / Hispanic Task-Force. In January 2018, Speaker Carl Heastie appointed Assemblywoman De La Rosa Chair of the Subcommittee on Infrastructure. The same year, Speaker Heastie appointed Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa to serve as a member of a special task force convened with the purpose of creating anti-sexual harassment legislation for New York State.
Brian Benjamin
New York State Senator
Brian A. Benjamin is the New York State Senator for District 30, which encompasses Harlem, East Harlem, and the Upper West Side. He was born in Harlem to a Caribbean mother who came to this country seeking new opportunities. Though they didn’t have a college education, his parents were fortunate enough to find well-paying union jobs, which allowed them to provide Brian and his siblings with a middle class upbringing. After graduating from high school in New York City, Brian sought the quality education his parents had dreamed of providing him with, earning his undergraduate degree in Public Policy from Brown University and his MBA from Harvard Business School. Brian spent three years working in investment banking at Morgan Stanley. There he worked in financial management, advising nonprofit and for profit organizations and individuals on how best to allocate hundreds of millions of dollars, exercising and honing his skills as an investment and financial adviser. Additionally, he worked in the division that issued and underwrote bonds, which is similar to the work he had done in the treasury department of manufacturing conglomerate after college. Brian returned to Harlem to build affordable housing, creating over a thousand units of environmentally sustainable, affordable housing at an M/WBE while helping young people develop work skills and secure good construction jobs through community youth programs. Brian is heavily involved in his community, having served as Chair of Community Board 10 and the Land Use Committee, a position he used to preserve the character of our community (such as his successful “Harlem not SOHA” campaign), and help keep Harlem affordable. He helped countless young people at Harlem’s Wadleigh High School achieve a brighter future since launching a mentoring program in 2013, and he is honored to serve as an alumni-elected trustee of Brown University. In addition to his work in the community, Brian has long been active in progressive politics, serving as a 2012 delegate for President Barack Obama and as a member of President Obama’s National Finance Committee. He also worked in finance, electoral politics, and interned in the office of Bill Lynch & Associates. Brian is an active member of Harlem’s historic First Corinthian Baptist Church. In the New York State Senate, Brian has distinguished himself as a leader in criminal justice reform and affordable housing. In 2018 he successfully pushed for the divestment of the state public pension funds from private prisons, and the following year he introduced a bill to forbid state-chartered banks from such investments as well, which helped pressure Bank of America to end their relationship with Geo Group and Core Civic. Brian’s proposal to keep rent controlled apartments affordable was a part of the history-making Tenant Protection Act of 2019, the largest expansion of tenant’s rights in decades. In his first term, he served as ranking member of the Senate Committee on Civil Service and Pensions, where he looked to defend the public pensions of hard working public servants like his parents while ensuring the pension money was invested in a manner that reflected New York’s values. He currently serves as the chair of the Budget and Revenue committee, and as Senior Assistant Majority Leader. After graduating from business school, Brian wanted to return to the neighborhood that gave his family a start in life over 40 years ago. It was Harlem Hospital that opened its doors to his pregnant mother without health insurance years ago, and while it’s a coincidence that Brian can see that same hospital from his office window in Harlem, it is purposeful that Brian looks to give back to New York as much as it has given to him.
Allen Roskoff
Allen Roskoff
President, Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club
Allen Roskoff is a legendary gay rights activist who has been a leader in the LGBT and social justice movements for over five decades. Roskoff achieved many early victories for the LGBT movement, including co-authoring the nation’s first gay rights bill. Roskoff first became involved in the movement in 1970 when he joined the Gay Activist Alliance, became an officer and the chair of the Municipal Government Committee. Along with Jim Owles, he later co-founded the nation's first gay Democratic club. Roskoff has worked on hundreds of political campaigns going back to the congressional races of Bella Abzug. Later campaigns would include heading Lesbians and Gays for David Dinkins, Mario Cuomo, and in 1984 served as as New York State LGBT Co-Chair for Jesse Jackson for President. In 2016 Roskoff was a Bernie Sanders delegate to the DemocraticNational Convention and this year served as an official surrogate to the Sanders for President campaign. Early in the 1970s, Roskoff disguised as himself as a psychiatrist and entered the Taxi and Limousine Commission with a couch demanding that the straight commissioner receive a psychiatric exam. Till that point, homosexual cab drivers had to produce a letter from a psychiatrist verifying that they were sane enough to drive a taxi. As a result of that demonstration the regulation was changed and no such letter was needed. To protest regulations barring same sex couples from dancing together in an entity with a cabaret license, Roskoff went to the Rainbow Room with a male partner risking arrest. A few days later the Consumer Affairs Department changed regulations and gays were allowed to dance together. The New York Post ran an article entitled "Gays Win A Waltz." In 1972 Roskoff helped organize a zap inside Radio City Music Hall for a ceremony put together by Mayor John Lindsay. The protest demanded an Executive Order barring discrimination within city government. Roskoff handcuffed himself to a chair in the theatre's balcony while demanding that Mayor Lindsay issue an Executive Order and showering the orchestra with leaflets. A few days after the protest, Lindsay issued an executive order. Roskoff publicly questioned aspiring 1984 Presidential candidate Senator John Glenn about his refusal to support Federal Gay Rights legislation. His stunning public performance drew national attention to Glenn's anti-gay bigotry, resulting in the resignation of his New York State campaign coordinator, then New York State Senate Minority Leader Manfred Ohrenstein. Glenn's campaign shortly thereafter came to an end. Roskoff was the first openly gay person appointed to a community board and also the first to serve in the offices of an elected official. In 1974, he joined the executive staff of the New York City Comptroller Harrison J. Goldin. Subsequently, Roskoff would serve in the administrations of Governor Mario Cuomo, Mayor David Dinkins, New York City Public Advocate Mark Green, and New York State Senators Martin Connor, David Paterson and Tom Duane. Roskoff has been featured, quoted and written about in major national and local publications including Look, Newsweek, Time, The New York Times, New York Post, The Daily News and The Advocate. He has written for gay publications such as The Native, QW, Outweek and The New York Blade on a regular basis, often providing front page coverage. Roskoff has received awards from Parent and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), Gay and Lesbian Independent Democrats, New York City Human Rights Commission, the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights, the Village Independent Democrats, the New York City Council, State Comptroller Tom di Napoli and City Comptroller Scott Stringer. Roskoff served as Grand Marshall of the Queens Pride Parade, was guest of honor at both Yale and Princeton's Gay Pride Ceremonies and received a proclamation from the City of West Hollywood. Roskoff is most proud to have established the formation of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club bringing together hundreds of prominent members of the LGBT community, straight allies, party and elected officials, and people from the performing arts. He believes that this organization has and will continue to elect progressive Democrats for local, city, state and national office. Roskoff was partners with Jim Owles in the early 1970's when they shared their lives together and remained best friends. Jim Owles died of AIDS in 1993 while Roskoff held him as he quietly died in St. Vincent’s Hospital.
SD
Sean Dugar
Education Campaign Program Director, Rank the Vote NYC
Sean Dugar is a political and non-profit consultant with nearly two decades of experience. Sean has worked with a number of nonprofit “Good Government” and social justice organizations organizing around issues such as police accountability, expanded access to the ballot box, and voting systems like Ranked Choice Voting (RCV). To date, Sean has worked on or managed over a dozen candidate and issue campaigns, including coordinating Democratic Party and African American outreach for California State Treasurer John Chiang, organizing faith conversations in support of marriage equality, rallying Bay Area communities in opposition to the death penalty and in favor of criminal justice reform, as well a campaign that registered over 10,000 new voters in Alameda County in 2004.
Agenda
2:00pm

Opening Remarks By Rodney Capel, VP, State Government Affairs, Charter Communications

2:10pm

Mayoral Candidate Interviews

Maya Wiley, Former Counsel to the Mayor

Eric Adams, Brooklyn Borough President

2:20pm

Roundtable Discussion 

New York voters will see a big change in the next election cycle with the implementation of ranked-choice voting. Our diverse panel will discuss the major issues on ranked choice voting and its effect on Manhattan. Topics to be addressed include the following:

-How exactly will ranked-choice voting work in New York City? 

-What are the pros and cons? Who benefits? Who is disadvantaged? 

-How to inform voters? Risk of confusion? 

-How will this affect campaigning? Less negative campaigning? Coalition campaigning?

-What kinds of candidates will benefit from this? Who will be hurt by it?

Panelists:

Hazel Dukes, President, NAACP New York State Conference

New York State Senator Brian Benjamin   

Assemblymember Carmen de la Rosa

Allen Roskoff, President, Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club

Sean Dugar, Education Campaign Director, Rank the Vote NYC

3:10pm

Closing Remarks

3:15pm

Session Concludes

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