“The rich are different from us,” F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, according to Ernest Hemingway (even though it didn’t actually happen that way). “Yes,” answered Hemingway in the tale. “They have more money.” Whoever said it, the statement about rich versus poor is as true in 2005 New York City Council races as it was for the Lost Generation.
If you compare all 51 council districts (keeping in mind that some of them don’t have competitive races this fall), the top 10 in terms of money raised per candidate are, in order: Forest Hills, Borough Park, Woodside, West Side, Park Slope, Jamaica, Douglaston, Middle Village, Flushing, and the Upper East Side. The bottom ten fundraisers include Bed-Stuy, south Staten Island, Flatlands, Ocean Hill-Brownsville, Washington Heights, Co-Op City, East New York, South Bronx, Crown Heights, and the mid-West Side. Eight of the top 10 fundraising districts are represented by white people; seven of the bottom 10 seats are held by minorities. In fiercely contested Upper East Side District 4, Democratic candidates raised $90,000 each. In fiercely contested Ocean Hill’s District 41, they took in $30,000 a piece.
Sure, there are a couple of outliers in the rankings—Leroy Comrie in Jamaica, not a wealthy area, among the top 10 and Andrew Lanza’s comfortable Staten Island district among the bottom—but basically the lists conform to the haves and have nots of the city. Maybe the fact that wealthier neighborhoods translate into wealthier campaigns is too obvious to warrant mention, but it does seem worth noting that some people’s votes come at a higher price than others.