Do Women Really Have Significant Impacts on the Outcome of Elections in New York City?
Recent data show that New York City has about 8.4 million total population, with the White, Hispanic/Latino and the Black/African-American communities respectively on top of the numerical ladder. More importantly, out of this 8.3 million plus, women cart away 52.3 per cent, while men take the remaining 47.7 percent. However, men still dominate the business and political hubs of the city. For example, the data from July 2019 census shows that while about 600 thousand male New York City residents are business owners, less than 500 thousand women have their own businesses despite having higher population figure. Hence, the key question here is: Do women really have significant impacts on the outcome of elections in New York City?
In an attempt to get clear answers to this question, New York Parrot conducted interviews with some New Yorkers with carefully selection of the respondents based on equal number of gender. Note that majority of the interviewee are politicians, entrepreneurs, the academics and legal practitioners, as it is believed these are the main stakeholders and players of political games in every society.
In an attempt to respond to this question, Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez, a candidate for the Bronx Borough President, said that the impact of women in the electoral process in the City is year by year appreciating because more and more women are actively engaging themselves in key political roles and activities, especially in this year’s elections.
“Women are critical in this year’s election. First, The Bronx has never had a female serve as borough president, and if I were elected, I would also be the first Latina to hold borough-wide office in New York City history. In college, there were many times I was the only Latina in the room,” Fernandez said.
She then, however, noted that there was more need for equal representation and that’s one of the issue she planned to fix if elected as the Bronx Borough President.
“Under my leadership, I will ensure,” she added, “the office reflects The Bronx’s demographics to ensure every neighborhood is accurately represented.”
Attorney Yadhira Gonzalez-Taylor, a candidate for Judge of the Civil Court of the City of New York in Bronx County 2nd Municipal Court District noted that the mass active involvement of women in this year’s elections would have significant impact on the governance system and electoral operations in the City.
“This year, NYC has a number of women running for every position that will appear on the ballot from Mayor down to judicial delegates and judge positions.
“I believe this will have a positive impact on how our government is run and on how the voters get engaged. People will have more choice for those they want to see in leadership positions, and that is a good thing!” Gonzalez-Taylor said.
In her response to whether women are fairly represented in the leadership positions in the City, Gonzalez-Taylor said, “I do not believe there is a sufficient number of women represented in leadership positions in my county, or the City or State. New York State is yet to elect its first woman governor, our city has yet to elect its first woman governor, and The Bronx has yet to elect the first top leader (that being Borough President).
She therefore blamed old and perhaps past NYC politician who made the politics unconducive and unfavorable for women.
“We have our first woman District Attorney here in The Bronx who was elected in 2016. This is not a reflection of the lack of qualified candidates I believe it’s more of a reflection on the past and how opportunities were not readily available.” Gonzalez-Taylor said, “In observing as a voter, citizen, and now candidate I have noticed that local political organizations are now much more women candidate friendly and are encouraging more women to run.”
Having identified Gender-based violence, workplace equity and affordable healthcare as the major challenge currently faced by female New Yorkers, Attorney Eunice Ukwuani, a community organizer, political consultant and legal practitioner based in the Queens, shed more light on the main reasons why women are these days more actively involved in the political affairs of the City.
“In fact, these are the issues female politicians fought for in recent elections. Of course I am referring to a Congressman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez who has been striving to elevate the status of women in politics and whose efforts go beyond electing women with a progressive agenda. Hillary Clinton shattered the glass ceiling and came agonizingly close to winning the White House. Now we have Kamala Harris as the first female Vice President of the United States who is set to make a difference and serves as an inspiration to young girls all around the world. While their power, charisma and accomplishments are undeniable, we have to pay tribute to all the remarkable and exceptional women who came before them – the women like Shirley Chisolm, Geraldine Ferraro, to name a few,” Ukwuani noted.
She further added that feminist initiatives and political celebrities plus the support of the Bernie Sanders’ Progressives, women have gained more opportunities to get their shares of the political leadership cake in the city and beyond.
“With the EMILY List, the nation’s largest resource for women, there are more opportunities for women to fulfill their potential in the political arena and run for public office in NYC. Progressives, influenced by Bernie Sanders, Bill De Blasio and AOC are faring very well in New York as the progressive movement is gaining momentum in the state. In fact, the progressive ideology ensures that women’s voices are being heard and respected,” she added.
Ukwuani, however, opined that, despite all these available platforms that support women emancipation and political empowerment, they are still under-represented, perhaps because they were initially not exposed to the palatable side of politics until the emergence of the MeToo and the Progressive movements.
“In my own view, women are still under-represented in my county – Queens and NYC. Until recently, men were usually the ones showing interest in political leadership. However, in recent years, and with the growing power and influence of MeToo movement, as well as progressive movement, women’s representation in politics is bound to change,” Ukwuani concluded.
Importantly, about 98% of the men interviewed also believe that women impacts on the outcome of elections in New York City cannot be overemphasized.
One of them, Pierre Gooding, a candidate for City Council in district 9 Harlem, emphasized on the roles of women in the coloration of the political atmosphere of the City, the state and national level, especially during and post Trump era.
“Throughout New York City, women will continue to shape history just as was the case for the Presidential election on November 3, 2020. How the City solves maternal health issues, transportation access, the amount of money in our budget dedicated to life saving initiatives such as PrEP and bringing affordable housing for our single mothers and families will all be at stake on June 22 in the Democratic Primary.” Gooding echoed. “Our voters, who are mostly women, have an opportunity for true change, especially by learning their City Council and participating in rank choice voting, which will come online citywide for the first time ever in our election.”
“More than the current 13 women on City Council are needed though throughout the 51 districts to ensure key legislation and budget items are passed,” he added.
While rounding up the interview, a giant male political figure in the Bronx county, a borough President candidate of one of the most underserved borough in the country, was interviewed. And here is what he said: “Nowadays, women have a great impact on the outcome of elections, not only in NYC but also nationwide. Pre-elections, they lead campaigns for candidates and are far more active than men when it comes to organizing communities for socio-political rallies. So having known the value of women in the electoral process, I’ve ensured that presently the overwhelming majority of my staff are women. And after my election, I will … establish an administration team in which we will have proper gender representation.”
Our findings, therefore, indicate that as women are on the rise in New York City politics, they play key roles in determining the outcome of elections. They do not only determine who leads their districts, boroughs and the City, women have also succeeded in electing female politicians to top posts in the state Legislature and in Congress, and even to serve as the state’s top attorney and steer the state’s court system.
Even though no female New Yorker has ever become the governor or the City’s mayor, they have managed to hold influential positions like advisers, commissioners and the likes, and this gives them the opportunity to shape the direction of the state. Considering the daily increase in women population and their advanced level of political awareness, any politician who downplays their role in this year’s electoral process would live to regret the outcome of the election in June and November.