October 14: Last day to register to vote
October 29 through November 6: Early voting
November 8: Election Day
On November 8, 2022, New York City voters have the unique opportunity to vote for three landmark ballot proposals aimed at advancing racial equity and dismantling structural racism in our city by changing the New York City Charter.
These proposals were put forth by the NYC Racial Justice Commission, the first of its kind in the nation created to examine the New York City Charter and recommend changes to ensure power, access, and opportunity for Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern and all People of Color (BIPOC). Find out more >
Oct 11 | 6 – 7:30 p.m.
Advancing Racial Equity in NYC
Oct 13 | 8:30 – 10:00 a.m.
NYU Wagner & FPWA Equity Event Series: Part 2 Ballot Proposals
The confluence of the Covid-19 pandemic and the murders and killings that revitalized the racial justice movement in 2020 laid bare what has always existed and could no longer be ignored – racism is built into our institutions, society, cultural norms, and beliefs. Programmatic and policy interventions alone will not get us closer to equity.
To truly achieve racial equity in New York, we must dismantle the structural racism embedded in and across government systems that perpetuates racial disparities and keeps marginalized Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern and all People of Color (BIPOC) communities disadvantaged.
The RJC was formed in March 2021 with the appointment of 11 Commissioners, including Chair Jennifer Jones Austin, and Vice Chair Henry Garrido. They had a two-year mandate to focus on racial justice and reconciliation as they identified and rooted out structural racism and proposed amendments to the city Charter.
This is an historic endeavor. It’s the first time an American city has created a Racial Justice Commission with the defined purpose to change its charter.
Changing the NYC Charter is a complex and time-consuming process. It’s the city’s Constitution and is the foundation of how our city functions and governs.
If the proposals pass, they’ll have a direct and long-lasting impact on the way New Yorkers live and work. They’ll bring new power, access, and opportunity to BIPOC residents. And they’ll create lasting capacity and accountability to maintain momentum over the decades.
You can find out more on the RJC website about the formal powers of the Commission, its mission, how it conducted its work, and how the three ballot proposals came to be.
NYC residents will be able to vote yes or no on these ballot measures on November 8, 2022 and during early voting from October 29 to November 6.
The RJC spent ten months in 2021examining the NYC Charter and city agencies. They met with communities throughout the five boroughs to hear first-hand about residents’ experiences and their recommendations for change that would achieve racial equity and justice for all city residents. The goal was to identify barriers to power, access, and opportunity for BIPOC.
Through this endeavor, the RJC identified and named structural institutions, laws, regulations, policies, and practices that by design, implementation, or impact enable and perpetuate inequitable power, access, and opportunity. They’ve put forward three ballot proposals to redress these injustices and ensure city adherence.
The RJC’s three ballot proposals are an important and historic first step toward achieving racial equity for all NYC residents. They arose from the goal to make sure the worth, talents, and contributions of all people in society are valued and recognized. Race ought not to be a determinant of economic, political, social, or psychological outcomes, as it should neither confer privilege nor deny opportunities.
Each ballot proposal advances change that will lead to racial equity and justice for all. It’s a singular opportunity to create transformational, structural change to how our government anchors its work, builds accountability, and measures what it takes economically to reach racial equity and justice for all.
Proposal #1: Add a Statement of Values to Guide Government in fulfilling its duties
This proposal would amend the NYC Charter to:
•Add a preamble, which would be an introductory statement of values and vision aspiring toward “a just and equitable city for all” New Yorkers; and
•Include in the preamble a statement that the city must strive to remedy “past and continuing harms and to reconstruct, revise, and reimagine our foundations, structures, institutions, and laws to promote justice and equity for all New Yorkers.”
The addition of a preamble would address outdated values that do not honor the current reality that NYC is a diverse, multi-racial city. It would serve to establish a set of values and expectations for the relationship the city and its government has with New Yorkers. These values would extend to guiding city agencies and officials as they perform their duties related to planning, program reviews, and audits.
Proposal #2: Establish an Office of Racial Equity and Appoint a Chief Equity Officer
This office’s mission would be to advance racial equity and coordinate the city’s racial equity planning process with the goal to improve racial equity and eliminate racial disparities. It would support city agencies as they seek to improve access to city services and programs for all New Yorkers. It would require citywide and agency-specific racial equity plans every two years, while also collecting data about equity efforts.
Establishing a Racial Equity Office will mark a significant step towards building greater government accountability for advancing race equity. For example, developing a structure for all city agencies to develop equity plans and report on the equity impact of their services and programs can give way to transformative procurement processes, adequate allocation of resources to community organizations, and adoption of innovative interventions to advance equity and reduce racial disparities.
Proposal #3: Measure the True Cost of Living
The city would be required to track the “true cost of living” in New York City by creating a measurement that would be updated annually, and that would be available to the public.
The true cost of living would include essential needs such as housing, food, childcare, transportation, clothing and much more without counting public, private, or informal assistance. It would be used to inform program and policy decisions.
The true cost of living measurement would be reported in addition to standards that are used to measure poverty or to set eligibility for public benefits. It would result in an accurate count of how many people live in poverty. Workers could use it to negotiate fair pay that would pay for the “true cost” of living in NYC. And it would be used to benchmark the extent and effectiveness of poverty alleviation programs and inform the design and eligibility of these same programs.
As FPWA celebrates its centennial this year, we see a direct line from our original role serving mostly Black and Brown children and their families, who were not being assisted adequately, to working to pass the three ballot proposals.
It’s in our heritage to launch a campaign to raise awareness about the three historic ballot proposals that will begin to dismantle the structural racism embedded in and across government systems that perpetuates racial disparities and keeps marginalized BIPOC communities disadvantaged.
FPWA’s core mission is to drive transformative change to achieve economic equity and stability for everyone in New York. For while discrimination and violence against marginalized peoples has been prevalent in our city’s past, it need not be in our future.
During the coming months leading up to the November election, we’ll roll out a three-pronged approach to inform NYC residents about the ballot proposals. We’ll build coalitions among our institutional partners as well as tap into our extensive community partnerships. And we’ll work towards ensuring that the media understands and covers what the proposals are, why they’re important and transformational, and how every resident can get involved in spreading the word.