About Democracy for NYC

Democracy for NYC (DFNYC) is committed to the ideals espoused by Democracy for America, the organization founded by Howard Dean, and the national network of local coalition groups dedicated to the same.

EndorsedLogo PlasticWe work both locally and nationally to ensure that fiscally responsible and socially progressive candidates are elected at all levels of government. We develop innovative ways to advocate for the issues that matter to our members and support legislation which has a positive effect in our communities.  We promote transparency and ethical practices in government.  We engage people in the political process and give them the tools to organize, communicate, mobilize, and enact change on the local, state, and national level.

You can download our bylaws here.

About Democracy for New York City


Marriage Equality March Sunday March 24 1pm at Stonewall

DFNYC is proud to be a a co-sponsor of this great event! Join us Sunday at 1pm at the Stonewall Inn, 7th Avenue and Christopher Street in Manhattan. Click here for details and the press release.

Forum Participation Guidelines for Candidate Forums

Participation Guidelines for Candidates:

A candidate can attend our mayoral forum, scheduled for March 5th and co-sponsored with Act Now NY and Living Liberally, if he or she has:

1. Filed at the Board of Elections
2. Publicly announced he or she is running for mayor in the Democratic primary
3. Raised at least $5000 in the recent January 15th, 2013 filing

If a candidate has not met these criteria, he or she may be invited to attend under the "Liz Holtzman Rule":

The Liz Holtzman Rule is named for former Congresswoman Liz Holtzman*, who explored running for Attorney General in 2010. Though she had not filed and eventually decided not to run, her participation in DFNYC's forum was of great interest to our members. The Liz Holtzman exception essentially states that leadership may vote in favor of inviting a candidate who has not met all three of the criteria if that candidate's participation in the forum would be of interest to our members or helpful in their decision about who to support in the election.  

It's a judgement call: Each member of the leadership, when deciding if a candidate should get a Liz Holtzman exception, should consider the following factors: political career and history of political activism, perceived breath of support in the political community, potential to win the office sought, participation in other forums, and likelihood that his/her presence at the forum will contribute significantly to a discussion of the issues that will be faced by the next mayor.

In developing these new participation guidelines (a process that started in the summer of 2012), we felt that $5000 was a very low threshold for participation.  Opening it up to anyone running for mayor would result in a forum with several candidates who have done little more than express an interest in running.  Using polling data to determine participation, as done in US presidential debates, seems overly arbitrary given the challenge of accurate polling in Democratic primaries in local races. Making the financial threshold much greater would put too much emphasis on fundraising.  Democracy for NYC has been very strongly in favor of campaign finance reform and getting money out of politics. We understand that the current money chase is a horrendous system - both for democracy and for candidates.  

But the current reality is that fundraising matters.  Candidates have to raise money to get their message out.  With the primary in September (possibly sooner) any candidate that expects to run a real campaign for mayor of New York City should have raised at least $5000 by this past January 15th.  In fact, to be at all viable, a candidate should raise much more, but we felt that $5000 was a threshold that is fair and achievable.

If you have any questions about the participation guidelines, please feel free to contact us at info-at-dfnyc.org (replace -at- with @).

Click here to return to the event page for the mayoral forum.

*We have been in recent contact with Liz Holtzman, after developing this rule. She loves the Liz Holtzman Rule, and is happy to have it named after her.

DFNYC Endorsement Results in 2013 Races

Democracy for NYC is proud to announce endorsements in several 2013 races.  For endorsement rules, win number, etc., click here.  A big thank you to our vote counters (DFA activists in other states) Jeff Gardner and Franco Caliz.


Bill de Blasio 58%  - winner!
John Liu 15%
Bill Thompson  11%
Sal Albanese 5%
Anthony Weiner (write-ins) 2%
Christine Quinn   0%
Erick Salgado    0%
No Endorsement 9%
Public Advocate

Letitia James       46% - winner!
Daniel Squadron   31%
Reshma Saujani   13%
Cathy Guerriero      2%    
No Endorsement     8%

DFNYC endorsement rules (in April, for all races but Comptroller) required a winning candidate to achieve either (a) over 50% of the vote, or (b) the most votes and at least 10% more than the nearest opponent. For more, click here
Eliot Spitzer           39%
Scott Stringer     59% - winner!
No Endorsement      2%
(The DFNYC endorsement vote for Comptroller took place in August of 2013 and was the only race on the ballot.  Based on member feedback, DFNYC leadership developed a threshold for endorsement that required a winning candidate to achieve both (a) at least 50% of the vote, and (b) at least 5% more than his opponent.)  
Brooklyn Borough President
Eric Adams           71% - winner!
John Gangemi         3% 
No Endorsement    26%
Manhattan Borough President
Gale Brewer  43%  - winner!
Robert Jackson   19%
Julie Menin   13%
Jessica Lappin  11%
No Endorsement 14% 

DFNYC endorsement rules required a winning candidate to achieve either (a) over 50% of the vote, or (b) the most votes and at least 10% more than the nearest opponent. For more, click here
Council District 3
Yetta Kurland 77%  - winner!
Corey Johnson 16%
No Endorsement  7%
Council District 5   - No Endorsement
Micah Kellner        47% 
Ben Kallos            44%
Edward Hartzog     3%
No Endorsement     6%
DFNYC endorsement rules required a winning candidate to achieve either (a) over 50% of the vote, or (b) the most votes and at least 10% more than the nearest opponent. For more, click here
Council District 6     
Marc Landis   42%  - winner!
Helen Rosenthal   23%
Debra Cooper    7%
Ken Biberaj   5%
Noah Gotbaum    5%
Mel Wymore    5%
No Endorsement   13%

DFNYC endorsement rules required a winning candidate to achieve either (a) over 50% of the vote, or (b) the most votes and at least 10% more than the nearest opponent. For more, click here
Council District 7
Mark Levine 63% - winner!
April Tyler6%
Cheryl Pahaham    9%
Marc Otto 3%
Zead Ramadan 3%
No Endorsement   16%
NYC Council Dist 22
Costa Costantinides 89% - winner!
Antonio Meloni            0%
No Endorsement 11%
NYC Council Dist 34

Antonio Reynoso 90%   - winner!
Vito Lopez                  0%
No Endorsement 10%

DFNYC Stands with Michigan Labor Against a Right-to-Work Law

Without any debate or input, the Michigan State Legislature is poised to vote on December 11th to make Michigan another Right To Work state.  Governor Rick Snyder has stated that when this law passes he would sign it.  It is an outrage that citizens have not been allowed to have their voices heard in this matter and a law that will affect the lives of every working Michigan citizen is being rammed down their throats.  DFNYC stands with the citizens of Michigan in their fight to prevent this law from being enacted.

For more about this issue, click here for an article in the Washington Post.

Our 2013 NYC Candidate Questionnaire

DFNYC 2013 Candidate Questionnaire

Answers: To learn about the candidates, you can read both the questions, and specific candidates' answers at our website - click here!

Candidates - Please contact us before you submit answers: info-at-dfnyc.org. We've already done our first round of endorsements, and we'd like to learn about your race.

Questions? Ask DFNYC Political Director Richard Wallner at rwallner-at- dfnyc.org or Matt Ward at enologic-at-gmail.com

(1) Money in NYC Politics.  Large donors, specifically real estate developers and landlords, have a huge amount of influence in NYC politics due to their campaign contributions. While NYC’s matching funds programs is seen as one of the most innovative public funding campaigns in the country, many DFNYC members feel that big money donors still have too much influence and candidates still spend too much time fundraising.  Would you support a change to full public financing of campaigns, similar to the Clean Money Clean Elections programs in Arizona, Connecticut and Maine?

(2) Tenant Protection & Cost of Housing.  Do you support rent stabilization and rent control laws? What will you do to crack down on landlords that break the law?  Would you call on the state legislature to repeal vacancy decontrol and more generally, the Urstadt Law, so that New York City – and not Albany – can enact its own housing laws?

(3) Paid Sick Leave.  There is currently a bill in the city council that would require companies in NYC with 5 or more employees to give 5 paid sick days per year to each employee (if they do not already). While many councilmembers support this, it has not been brought to a vote. Supporters feel this is much needed public health legislation that would only raise labor costs by 2%, while opponents say that it would be an unfair financial burden to small business. Do you support the bill and will you actively work to get it passed?

(4) Fair Police Practices & Occupy Wall Street:  The New York City Police Department has been highly criticized for its Stop & Frisk policy, which disproportionally affects racial minorities and poor and working class New Yorkers. The NYPD has also been criticized for its treatment of activists in the Occupy Wall Street movement. Do you support ending or modifying Stop & Frisk? If running for mayor, will you keep Ray Kelly or appoint a new police commissioner?  Do you think Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD should have handled events in the OWS movement differently and what measures will you take to protect political demonstrations? 

(5) Mayoral Control of Education.  Mayoral Control of NYC schools is set to expire in 2016, but the state legislature can renew it. If elected to city government, you will not directly vote on mayoral control, but you will have a ‘bully pulpit’ as renewal is discussed in the next 3 years. Do you support keeping Mayoral Control as is, letting it expire, or making changes, for example to the hearing process for controversial decisions?  (Examples: Co-locations of multiple schools in one building, providing district school space to charter schools, phasing out schools that have been labeled as “failing” due to high dropout rates, low test scores, or other factors.)

(6) Teacher Evaluation.  A key area where the mayor has influence in public education is in the negotiation of a contract with NYC’s public school teachers.  Please give your opinion on the following proposed ways to evaluate teachers for the purpose of tenure, salary and other job benefits:  Improvement in student test scores, observations by other teachers, student surveys, whether the teacher has an advanced degree, a principal’s evaluation of a teacher.  Should principals be allowed to do unannounced observations of teachers?  Do you have any experience negotiating labor union contracts?

(7) Co-location of charter schools. City officials do not decide how many charter schools can exist, or grant requests to be a charter school.  However, the Department of Education - currently controlled by the Mayor - may decide to provide charter schools with space, usually by "co-location" with district public schools. While more than half of NYC schools (not just charters) are co-located, it is a controversial topic when a charter school is involved. Critics argue that cash-strapped district schools should not be forced to share resources with charter schools and that co-location creates a morale problem when students and parents see the contrast. Co-location advocates argue that charter schools are public schools and should have an equal right to publicly owned resources such as buildings, charter schools do not receive funding for space and therefore operate at a severe financial disadvantage if they have to find private space, and that differences between co-located schools result from decisions the principals make about how to spend their per-pupil funding.  Do you support the DOE giving public school space to charter schools?  Sources:  Against - funding and space arguments.  In Favor - funding & space (pdf).

(8) The City Wage Tax.  New York City’s budget depends in large part on the city wage tax, which is only paid by residents, not everyone who works in NYC.  Would you call on the state legislature to allow NYC to collect the tax from people from the suburbs who work in NYC and benefit from our services (police, fire, etc.)? Would you support efforts to collect the tax from people who actually live in New York City but use a second home (a loophole not available to middle class New Yorkers with just one home) to avoid the city wage tax? If these efforts work, would you be willing to reduce the city wage tax so that workers would have more take home pay, and there would be less incentive for people to move to the suburbs, reducing our tax base? 

(9) Other Taxes.  Do you support progressive taxation?  Do you support Governor Cuomo’s approach to the marginal tax rate on high incomes?  What is your opinion on the current property tax in NYC? Would you support a federal financial transaction tax to either raise revenue, reduce the practice of high frequency trading, or both?  

(10) Poverty & the Social Safety Net: According to a 2012 report by the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, many struggling New Yorkers are eligible for welfare, but have not been able to obtain it due to onerous application requirements, and the excessive and arbitrary use of “sanctions” by the City’s Human Resources Administration (HRA). These obstacles have caused very little increase in welfare cases during the recent recession, as contrasted with large increases in Food Stamps and Medicaid. Would you change HRA to make it easier for eligible families to obtain cash assistance, connect them to jobs or meaningful job training, and reform the improper use of sanctions? How would you manage New York City's social safety net programs to ensure that people get the help they need, while at the same time preventing fraud?

(11) Homelessness. When Mayor Bloomberg first ran, he promised to introduce policies to drastically reduce the numbers of people who are homeless in our city.  But during the twelve years of his administration, the numbers of homeless have increased dramatically each year.  This is in addition to the approximately 50,000 people sleeping in shelters on an average night, according to a recent report by the Coalition for the Homeless.  What would you do to deal with this sad situation?

(12) Hurricane Sandy & Environmental Protection. The devastating impact that Hurricane Sandy had on New York City poses short term and long term challenges, namely immediate support for those who lost their homes and businesses, and climate change, respectively.  What measures do you support for helping Sandy recovery efforts, as well as energy conservation and reducing the carbon footprint of New York City?  What is your position on hydraulic fracturing and the Spectra pipeline?

(13) Gun Control.  While DFNYC members have long supported gun control, the December 14th shooting in Newtown, Connecticut seems to have changed the debate on the national level. Do you support the proposals President Obama made to (a) renew and fix the assault weapons ban, (b) ban high capacity magazines (limit the number of bullets that can be shot before reloading), and (c) improve the background check system?  Please indicate any other methods you would support to reduce gun violence, including how you would implement them, for example: gun buy-back programs, training programs for gun owners, improved access to mental health care, and involving the business community in gun safety.

(14) Choice & Marriage Equality. Please briefly state your position on the following three issues: marriage equality for gays & lesbians, a woman's right to choose, and access to birth control. (25 words or less)  



Contact Information

Email: info -at- dfnyc.org


A local coalition group of Democracy for America since 2004

Democracy for NYC (DFNYC) is committed to the ideals espoused by Democracy for America, the organization founded by Howard Dean, and the national network of local coalition groups dedicated to the same.