Political Climate in New York City: An Expert's Perspective

In the last presidential election, Kings County (Brooklyn), New York saw a majority of its citizens voting for the Democratic Party, with 76.8% of the votes. The Republican Party received 22.1% of the votes, and the remaining 1.1% went to other parties. This is a stark contrast to the era of the American Revolution, when New York was under British occupation and two fires destroyed a third of its buildings. The Federalist mayor James Duane and his successor Richard Varick worked together to rebuild the city and its government in the 1780s.

This was followed by DeWitt Clinton's efforts in 1803, which laid the foundation for New York's national dominance. By 1800, it had become the largest city in the country, a commercial powerhouse that welcomed people from different towns. However, New Yorkers were not allowed to elect their own mayor until 1834, when Cornelius Lawrence initiated democratic control. This has since been a characteristic of the metropolis. In April 1835, citizens voted for the creation of a new water supply system, which was completed in 1842 with the Croton Aqueduct.

This provided New Yorkers with some of the best quality drinking water in the country and helped to end epidemics that had periodically plagued the city. The desire for self-government in Manhattan often clashed with upstate legislators' plans. In 1857, Albany authorized the Metropolitan Police District to cover four urban counties. This led to two competing police forces and their subsequent battles were only resolved with the intervention of the state militia. It wasn't until 1870, after William Magear Tweed's massive bribe, that local police power was restored. The Tweed statute increased the authority of the mayor in matters of government and, after Tweed's overthrow in 1871, a reform charter added powers to the Comptroller's office.

The Estimation Board and City Council were also established to direct city development. The Working Families Party, affiliated with labor movements and progressive community activists, is an influential force in city politics. Thomas Dongan granted New York its first municipal statute and allowed for councilors to be elected. However, he retained the right to appoint the mayor, registrar, clerk and sheriff. During this time, Tammany Hall dominated city politics and built Manhattan's basic water, sewerage, fire, police, transportation and parks facilities. Today, about 52% of all revenues collected by local governments in New York State come solely from New York City.

These funds are spent on education (28%), social services (20%), public safety (13%) and benefits and pensions (10%). In addition to state income taxes, residents pay income tax to the municipality at brackets ranging from 2.9% to 3.7%. The New York City Campaign Finance Board (NYCCFB) provides matching public funding to eligible candidates who are subject to strict contribution and spending limits. The mayor is responsible for appointing department heads and criminal court judges as well as preparing an annual budget.

New York City

politicians have often exerted influence abroad; for example, they developed MacBride Principles that affect labor practices in Northern Ireland.

The social initiatives first undertaken in New York became precursors to New Deal programs in the 1930s. The city also has federal buildings downtown that house buildings for the United States Attorney and FBI. In 1846, New York State voters rejected a proposed amendment that would have granted blacks equal voting rights as whites. The decline in manufacturing caused a decrease in taxes collected by local governments which destabilized New York City's economy. Aggressive preventive tactics were implemented which substantially reduced crime rates while “quality of life” policing made citizens feel safe on the streets.

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