The title of president may imply a certain kind of cachet, but borough presidents actually wield very little real power within the city government. Instead, the office acts as an advisor to the Mayor, the City Council and other government groups that do have the power to make big changes to the city. But don't discount their influence, as someone like current MBP Scott Stringer, who has been in office since 2006, has managed to bring about policy shifts on a variety of issues—including bike lanes—that have had a significant impact on life in the borough.

When it comes to Manhattan, land use represents the biggest job of the office, as the Beep reviews all land use and zoning projects and offers recommendations to the mayor as to whether a project should receive the green light. In a place like Manhattan, where real estate ventures can mean big bucks, the Beep seeks to protect the borough from special interest groups who may not have the community's best interests at heart.

Second to that, the MBP gets a portion of the city budget to spend as they see fit. Last year, the office received approximately $20 million to spend in Manhattan, which went to places like the Boys and Girls club of Harlem and other educational institutions in the borough. Finally, the office has oversight of city services like maintaining parks and streets and also appoints members of certain city agencies, covering topics like health and education.

2013 Manhattan Borough President Candidates:

  • Gale Brewer (D): City Council member representing the Upper West Side and northern Hell's Kitchen since 2002.

  • Robert Jackson (D): Native New Yorker and City Council member representing Washington Heights, Inwood and sections of Harlem since 2002.

  • Jessica Lappin (D): Native New Yorker and City Council member representing the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island since 2006.

  • Julie Menin (D): Attorney, small business owner and former chairperson for Community Board 1 in Lower Manhattan.

  • We asked each candidate for Manhattan Borough President to answer a questionnaire for their positions on issues facing the borough, as well as some personal information relevant to the job. We'll be doing the same for other races, including Public Advocate, Comptroller and Mayor, as soon as we receive responses from each candidate.

    Mouse-over icons for quotes from the candidates and more details about the questions.

    Do you rent?Do you have a pet?Do you bike?Do your kids attend public school?Have you been the victim of a crime?

    Gale Brewer
    City Council Member

    Robert Jackson
    City Counci Member

    Jessica Lappin
    City Council Member

    Julia Menin
    Former CB1 Chairperson

    New York City Campaign Finance Board records indicate that, to date, Julie Menin leads in campaign funds with $1,031,347.49 followed by Jessica Lappin at $757,024.01, with Robert Jackson and Gale Brewer trailing with $415,069.38 and $342,431.50 respectively. That more or less mirrors a recent straw poll from Manhattan Young Democrats, which shows Menin leading with 52% from likely voters and Brewer (22%), Lappin (15%) and Jackson (12%) more or less tied for the remaining votes.

    Each candidate has a few big names throwing support in their direction. Julie Menin counts council members Ydanis Rodriguez, Margaret Chin and Melissa Mark-Viverito as supporters, in addition to an endorsement from late mayor Ed Koch. Gale Brewer has Gloria Steinem, Former Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger and Assemblymember Dick Gottfried in her corner. Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney and State Senator Brad Hoylman are for Jessica Lappin, while Robert Jackson received endorsements from Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Former Mayor David Dinkins and the all important United Federation of Teachers.

    Change stop and frisk?Legalize marijuana?Inspector general for NYPD?More bike lanes?Congestion pricing?Ban chain stores?Luxury buildings in projects?Public-private parks?Midtown East?Hudson Yards?SPURA?Chelsea Market?NYU / Columbia?Marine Transfer Project?Change judge system?
    City Councilmember
    City Councilmember
    City Councilmember
    Former CB1 Chairperson

    To read the candidates full responses to our questionnaire, click below:

    Election charts designed by Aaron Marks

    Gothamist and our partners, NY1 News, NY1 Noticias, WNYC, Citizens Committee for New York City, Citizens Union, Hispanic Federation, and Transportation Alternatives, are sponsoring official Campaign Finance Board debates, including the official Democratic mayoral debate on August 21.