Feb. 18, 2021 By Allie Griffin
More than $3.7 million in public campaign funds was distributed among 40 candidates in Queens who are running to represent various districts in the borough.
The candidates, who each received varying amounts, were awarded the money by the NYC Campaign Finance Board (CFB) through the city’s matching funds program. The funds were distributed among city council candidates as well as a candidate for Queens Borough President.
The $3.7 million is just a small chunk of the roughly $18.7 million dispersed among 124 candidates citywide Wednesday, in the largest public funds payment thus far in the 2021 election cycle.
The matching funds program is meant to encourage candidates to fundraise and appeal to New Yorkers rather than special interest groups.
The CFB said that the large amount of money raised this payment cycle shows that many candidates have successfully engaged their communities.
“The Board announced that 124 candidates qualified to receive a public funds payment today,” CFB Spokesperson Matt Sollars said in a statement Tuesday.
“To be eligible for payment, each candidate demonstrated support from within their community by meeting a two-part fundraising threshold based on small contributions from city residents.”
Eight Queens council candidates received the maximum public funds payment, $160,444, Tuesday, according to the CFB.
District 20 candidate John Choe, District 23 candidate Linda Lee, District 26 candidate Amit Bagga, District 27 candidates Jason Clark and James Johnson, District 29 candidate David Aronov, District 30 incumbent candidate Council Member Robert Holden and District 32 candidate Kaled Alamarie each earned the maximum funds permitted in the latest payment cycle.
The District 27 race, where both Clark and Johnson reached the max payment, received the largest cash boost among Queens races yesterday. The district is currently represented by term-limited Council Member I. Daneek Miller.
In total, the CFB awarded $659,237 to five candidates running for the D-27 seat representing Cambria Heights, Hollis, Jamaica, St. Albans, Queens Village, and Springfield Gardens.
Candidates Marie Adam-Ovide and Natasha Williams each earned more than $100,000 in public funds, with Williams receiving less than $300 below the max payment. Meanwhile candidate Rene Hill received more than $74,000 in public money.
The District 26 race was another high-earner this payment cycle, most likely due to the large number of candidates vying for the council seat. It is one of the most crowded city council races this year, with a total of 19 candidates running to represent Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and a portion of Astoria.
Bagga — thanks to a bump from yesterday’s maximum public funds payment — has the most money in his campaign coffers at $192,410, followed by Julia Forman who has received a total of $128,258 in public funds — including $79,937 yesterday. (click here for the list)
Meanwhile in the Queens borough president race, only Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer qualified for matching funds in this payment cycle. Current Queens Borough President Donovan Richards — whose one-year term ends this year and must run again to secure the seat for a full term — didn’t qualify for matching funds.
Van Bramer has $394,608 on hand, while Richards has just $114,231, according to filings.
Candidates earn the money through the CFB matching funds program by meeting a two-part fundraising threshold. They must raise a specified amount in campaign donations from city residents and have a specific number of contributions from city, borough or district residents — depending on the office they’re running for.
For example, city council candidates must raise at least $5,000 from New York City residents, with only the first $175 contributed per resident counting towards the $5,000. They must also receive at least 75 contributions from residents of the district they are running to represent.
The CFB provides matching funds to candidates who meet the thresholds at a rate of $8 for every $1 received from New York City residents for a maximum payment per resident of $1,400 for city council and borough president candidates and $2,000 for citywide candidates.
The board has paid a total of nearly $37.8 million to candidates in the 2021 elections thus far, including previous payments in December and January. Candidates who didn’t qualify for matching funds this month will have another opportunity to do so on March 15.