The February impact we can have on NYC’s mayoral race

Pre-pandemic, Allen Fagin, Public Advocate Letitia James,Religious Groups Rally City Hall For School Lunch Program (Courtesy of Orthodox Union)

Right before the last snowstorm, my wife and I made a last-minute run to the grocery store but we were too late. The “good” produce was gone. The “best” ice cream flavors were sold out. And forget about toilet paper, shovels or salt. The only fully-stocked section was the Pesach aisle. Who buys food for a holiday six weeks away, I grumbled. Friends and family set me straight: Anyone who prefers discounts and avoiding multiple shopping trips while cooking, cleaning and polishing the Pesach silverware.

I hate to admit it, but they’re right. Whether it’s snowstorms or Pesach, we’re always more successful when we’re prepared. And as I watched the snowfall, I realized we’ll need to prep for the coming New York City mayoral elections if we want a successful outcome.

In June, New York City will hold the primary elections for mayor. As in any primary, Republican voters can only vote for Republican candidates and the same if you’re a Democrat. You can see a list of candidates who are running for Mayor here. If you’re registered in one party and want to vote for a candidate in a different party, you must officially switch your party affiliation. You can always switch back later, but right now, it’s urgent: the deadline to switch parties is February 14, 2021. It’s a simple online form and all you need is a New York State driver’s license or ID card.

Is voting in this race worth switching parties for? You bet it is.

As one of the most prominent and powerful public figures, the New York City mayor makes decisions that directly impact the Jewish community. New York City’s massive $90 billion budget dwarfs the budgets of nearly every US state. The mayor sets the agenda on how to spend all of those dollars.

Our team at the OU’s Teach Coalition advocates for New York City to share some of that $90 billion with nonpublic schools including Yeshivas and Jewish day schools to keep them safe and fairly funded. We fight for equitable government funding, such as security and technology funding to make a difference for families. Our success depends on having elected officials who will partner with us. Election results really matter. And no matter which party or candidate you support, candidates of all parties pay attention to the communities that vote.

Currently, there are more than 30 candidates in the primary — including a citizen crime fighter, a rapper, and a reality TV star. There are also seasoned politicians and successful financiers. The field is wide open and right now, it could be anyone’s game.

It is important not to wait to vote until the November general election. In fact, studies show that many elections are decided in the primaries. That means there’s a lot riding on these primaries. If we want our community’s needs to remain top priorities for funding, we need to get in the game. Because turnout for primary elections is often lower, a communal effort to turn out every vote will make a big difference.

Each and every one of us plays a role in making our voices heard. If you need to switch your party, it’s easy to do online. Get it done so you are prepared come June. Once that’s out of the way, you can get a head start on Pesach shopping.

About the Author
Maury Litwack is the founder & executive director of the Teach Coalition, a multi-state advocacy network responsible for securing billions of dollars in state funding for Jewish day schools and other non-public schools.
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