New York City and state lawmakers are diving headlong into a busy summer season.
In New York City, Mayor Eric Adams announced his first budget deal with the City Council on Friday, while statewide candidates for governor and lieutenant governor are busy making their pitches to voters ahead of the upcoming June 28th primary, where early voting starts Saturday.
WNYC’s senior political correspondent Brigid Bergin spoke with host Michael Hill on what voters should note this week.
The interview has been lightly edited.
Let’s start with that city budget deal that came out on Friday. It wasn’t technically due until the end of the month. Why so early and any key takeaways?
It’s a “city of yes” according to Mayor Adams. At least that’s how he characterized this ahead of the scheduled announcement. He talked about working with City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and Finance Committee Chair Justin Brannan to reach an agreement on a $101 billion dollar deal.
I think there are two things going on there — for one, this is a largely new Council along with a new administration so there are fewer burned bridges at this point. Also, because of the Council redistricting that’s happening now, the members are all up for re-election next year, while the mayor won’t be. So there is a real incentive for everyone to show that they can get something done.
Obviously, there is a lot to unpack in the budget. My colleague, Elizabeth Kim, began breaking it down on Friday. Of note, the city is expanding the summer youth jobs program and instituting dyslexia screenings in correctional facilities and public schools. But schools are actually taking a hit; Mayor Adams tried to push back on that characterization, saying they were just “adjusting” budgets based on drops in student enrollment. But there was an immediate response from City Comptroller Brad Lander and others warning that this was the wrong approach. We should also note Mayor Adams didn’t get everything, including the nearly 600 new correction officers he sought to hire.
More to come on the details of all of this. But things are on the fast track — the Council is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. tonight to officially vote on the package.
Last week, we previewed the Democratic gubernatorial debate. Tonight, the Republicans running for governor get their chance. What can you tell us about that debate?
The debate will be on WCBS-TV (Ch. 2) and WCBS 880 at 7 p.m. There will be three candidates in the studio, and one permitted to only participate virtually. Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin, who has the backing of the state party, former Westchester County executive Rob Astorino and businessman Harry Wilson are all supposed to be there in person. Andrew Giuliani, son of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and a former advisor to President Donald Trump is only allowed to attend virtually because he is not vaccinated. So COVID-19 vaccinations and mandates are inevitably going to get some discussion. Trump, who's been doling out endorsements in other midterm primaries across the country, is likely to loom large — he has not endorsed in this race and it’s unclear if he will. And yet, given how poorly Trump has performed statewide in the last two elections, it’s also unclear how much these candidates are seeking his support. We’ll get a better sense of that tonight.
Also, since we are still in wait-and-see mode on two major U.S. Supreme Court decisions — on the future of abortion access and the right to carry concealed weapons — the candidates are likely to be asked to weigh in on those issues.
There is also a Democratic debate for Lieutenant Governor this week. Now, even though these lieutenant governor candidates are running mates with a gubernatorial candidate, they run separately in the primary, correct?
That’s right. While the winners of the primary will officially be on a ticket together, for now Democrats need to choose a lieutenant governor candidate, which means you could potentially end up with a candidate at the top of the ticket and a lieutenant governor who were not running together before the primary. Our Albany reporter Jon Campbell will unpack that more this week. For now, the choice will be between Ana María Archila, a progressive activist who is running with New York City Advocate Jumaane Williams; Diana Reyna, a former deputy borough president to Eric Adams and former City Councilmember — she is the running mate of Rep. Tom Suozzi from Long Island. Finally, there’s Antonio Delgado, the state’s new lieutenant governor who was tapped after Gov. Kathy Hochul’s first pick, Brian Benjamin, resigned facing a corruption scandal.
Their only debate will be on Spectrum News/NY1 on Wednesday night.
The state Assembly primaries will also be on that June primary ballot. Those districts were also subject to redistricting and there was another court case decided last week with some future implications for those races. What happened there?
A judge ruled that those lines were also unconstitutional. But he said it was too late to redraw them for this year’s election. So the Assembly lines will be redrawn ahead of the next election in 2024.
Last week, you mentioned that there were changes to the state’s absentee ballot law. Since today is the deadline for the Board of Elections to receive an absentee ballot application, can you remind us what is different this year?
Two key things to note: first, if you decide to apply for an absentee ballot, your application must be received by the BOE today — that is if you mailed it or submitted it online. You could still walk into a BOE office and apply in person up until June 27th, that’s the day before Primary Day on June 28th.
But today is the last day for an application to be received if you are mailing it or completing it online.
If you were planning to put it in the mail today, you better take it in person to a BOE instead, right?
Exactly. The second thing to keep in mind: if you submit an absentee ballot application and change your mind and decide to go to the polls, you will not be able to vote on the voting machine. You will be handed an affidavit ballot that you must complete and insert into an envelope.
What else is on your radar this week?
Early voting starts Saturday. Keep in mind, voters are assigned to a specific early voting site and the city has 140 sites open across the five boroughs. You can find your site online at findmypollsite.vote.nyc. You just enter your address and then it will tell you your early voting site, the hours for the nine days of early voting, and it will give you a chance to view your sample ballot so you can walk into that poll site feeling prepared.