Inspired by FEC ruling, Intro. 899-A addresses gender barriers in government
NEW YORK, NY, October 31, 2018 – The New York City Council today passed landmark legislation to allow candidates in New York City to use campaign funds toward certain childcare expenses. The legislation, introduced by Council Member Keith Powers and Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo, allows more primary caregivers, especially women, to run for office.
The legislation follows a unanimous ruling from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to allow Congressional candidate Liuba Grechen Shirley to use campaign funds for childcare expenses, as well as a recent decision from the New York State Board of Elections to permit the same on the state level. To be eligible for coverage under this legislation, the candidate must be the primary caregiver of a child younger than 13, and must show that the need for childcare services would not exist but for the campaign.
“There are many costs associated with running for office, but few so impactful as to make or break a candidate’s decision to run. This legislation changes the game for would-be candidates, especially women candidates,” said Council Member Keith Powers. “New York City can now line up with federal and state election rules around childcare expenses, and there is no doubt that this legislation will encourage new mothers and new fathers to run for office.”
“To truly support women as political leaders, we must look at the reality of their lives. For many women, childcare is an insurmountable barrier when it comes to running for office,” said New York City Council Majority Leader, Laurie A. Cumbo. “Here, in New York City, we have the opportunity to break that barrier with this legislation, which allows campaign funds to be used for childcare expenses when the candidate is the primary caregiver. I know firsthand the challenges of balancing family and a political career, and I would love nothing more than for other moms and primary caregivers to no longer feel like they have to choose between career and family. Thank you to Council Member Powers for his tremendous leadership and partnership on this effort.”
“New York City is fortunate to have so many talented individuals run for office, and many of these individuals are proud parents. Running for office and raising a child are both full time jobs yet often, candidates are compelled to choose one over the other,” said Speaker Corey Johnson. “With Introduction 899-A, candidates would be able to use their campaign funds for childcare services. We must support parents and encourage people to run for office, and this bill does both. I thank Council Member Keith Powers for his advocacy and leadership on this very important issue.”
By applying the FEC’s ruling to local elections, this legislation benefits any primary caregiver interested in running for City office. National research shows that women will particularly benefit from this legislation, as women assume more responsibility than men when it comes to managing work and family needs.
A 2013 Pew Research Center survey found that while 42 percent of working mothers have to reduce their working hours to care for a child or other family member at some point in their career, 28 percent of working fathers do the same.
With just 11 female members, the City Council has fewer women today than it has had at any point in the past 20 years.
“I’m thrilled the FEC’s landmark decision on using campaign funds for childcare inspired elected officials to change campaign finance laws on a local level,” said Democratic Congressional Candidate for NY-2, Liuba Grechen Shirley. “If we want leaders who will stand up for women and working families, then we need to remove the barriers that keep women and working parents from running. Using federal campaign funds for childcare will remove a major financial obstacle for working families and mothers—and I’m grateful Council Members Power and Cumbo brought this important issue to light in New York City in a way that will truly impact candidates.”
“PPNYC Votes PAC applauds Council Member Keith Powers, and Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo, for passing barrier-breaking legislation to bring the FEC childcare funds ruling to New York City. No one should have to choose between running for office, and caring for a child,” said Laura McQuade, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood NYC Votes PAC. “We need more women in office. We need people in leadership positions whose lived experiences match those of the people they serve. People who understand how important sexual and reproductive health care, child care, education, and safety are to our communities. PPNYC Votes PAC applauds this action to support all people, including parents, to step up, serve in elected office, and make the positive change we need to make New York fairer and more equitable.”
“21 in ‘21 is confident that Intro. 899 will be a crucial step towards achieving gender parity in the NYC Council. The cost of childcare has long deterred and prevented women from running for office, especially women of color,” said Moira McDermott, Executive Director of the 21 in ’21 Initiative. “This will not only eliminate the financial barriers associated with a campaign for many first-time and lower-income candidates, but also puts New York City at the forefront of efforts nationwide to help elect more women to office. Candidates will no longer have to choose between childcare or making a difference in their community by running for office.”
“A major obstacle to running for office for many women is the issue of childcare. The passage of this legislation will even the playing field for mothers who want to get into politics and hold elected office,” said Sonia Ossorio, President of the National Organization for Women NY. “There couldn’t be a better time for this issue to be raised and for change to occur, the New York City Council is dominated by men.”
“She Will Rise believes Int. 899 will help ensure more equal representation in our City Council, which trails behind progressive cities across the world in female representation at the local level,” said Tricia Shimamura, Chair of She Will Rise. “This bill is a step in the right direction to creating a more diverse City government, and will offer many more New Yorkers – and especially women – the opportunity to run for elected office without having to make heartbreaking choices between professional and familial responsibilities.”
“Eleanor’s Legacy is electing a new generation of New York women leaders, but to do that we need women to run,” said Brette McSweeney, President of Eleanor’s Legacy. “Allowing campaign funds to be used for childcare evens the playing field for women who too often have to choose between running for office and running a household. Eleanor’s Legacy is proud to support this change-making legislation for women.”
“I am proud to stand with my colleagues as a co-sponsor of Introduction 899. For too long, childcare has been dismissed as an afterthought, rather than a necessity. As a mother who knows firsthand the magnitude of time and resources required to raise one’s young children, it is obvious to me that childcare is as vital to the smooth function of a primary caregiver’s election campaign as any other expenditure,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Chair of the Committee on Women. “With an unprecedented number of women running for office across the country, New York City has an opportunity here to codify an unassailable standard of inclusivity and respect in our campaign law. I encourage my fellow Council Members to pass this imperative and timely piece of legislation.”
“Today marks a bold step in the creation of a democracy which truly reflects our diverse communities. By eliminating the barriers keeping qualified women from running for office, this legislation is a game changer in the efforts to increase women’s representation in all levels of City government,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin, Co-Chair of the Women’s Caucus. “This legislation not only reforms the campaign finance process, a system that has benefited the status quo for too long — it affirms our City’s longstanding commitment to inclusion and gender equity. I am proud to join Council Member Keith Powers, Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo and my fellow colleagues to fight for more opportunities for women in local leadership to run for office, and in paving the way for a future where New Yorkers of every community can see themselves reflected in their government.”
“One of the most common reasons women tell me they won’t run for office in New York is because of the cost – both financially and emotionally on their families. Now we are on the verge of finally codifying rules that will allow candidates in our city to use campaign funds to pay for child care costs,” said Council Member Carlina Rivera, Co-Chair of the Women’s Caucus. “I want to congratulate my Council colleagues, particularly Council Member Powers, for the passage of this historic legislation. I also want to thank New York Democratic House candidate Liuba Grechen Shirley, whose successful fight at the FEC is now paving the way for New York and municipalities across the country to finally give parents of young children a fair opportunity to seek and win elected office.”
“Allowing candidates to utilize campaign funds for childcare expenses will encourage more women with young children to run for office, especially as female representation is needed throughout municipal government,” said Council Member Diana Ayala, Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus. “As a mother, grandmother, and newly elected Council Member, I am proud to sponsor this important piece of legislation with my colleagues.”
“The elected leadership of New York City must reflect our population in all ways. By removing barriers related to gender, family and income issues Intro 899 moves us substantially toward this reality,” said Council Member Fernando Cabrera, Chair of the Governmental Operations Committee. “As chair of the Committee on Governmental Operations and a co-sponsor of this forward-thinking legislation, I’m proud to stand with my colleagues today to clear the way to allow use of campaign funds for childcare costs that would otherwise bar qualified New Yorkers from running for office.”
To participate in the program, candidates must submit a statement of eligibility to the Campaign Finance Board (CFB). The CFB will also develop a program to inform candidates and the public of the purpose and effects of the bill, including educational materials and compliance manuals. The legislation will go into effect 120 days after becoming law. This legislation would not impact any special election called or conducted in the 120 day period.
About Council Member Keith Powers
Keith Powers is Council Member for the East Side of Manhattan, covering Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village, Waterside Plaza, Tudor City, East Midtown, Midtown West, and part of the Upper East Side. Council Member Powers serves as Chair of the Criminal Justice Committee, and is vice co-chair of budget of the Progressive Caucus.