Borough President

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Borough President (informally BP, or Beep in slang) is an elective office in each of the five boroughs of New York City. Borough Presidents currently have little real power within the New York City government. Instead they generally serve as ceremonial leaders who advocate for their boroughs on key issues.

Borough Presidents advise the Mayor, comment on all land-use items in their borough, advocate borough needs in the annual municipal budget process, appoint Community Boards, chair the Borough Boards, and serve as ex officio members of various boards and committees. They generally act as advocates of their boroughs at the mayoral agencies, the city council, the New York State government, public corporations and private businesses.

Reasons for establishment[edit]

Prior to January 1, 1898, the city was coterminous with New York County, which at that time comprised Manhattan and the Bronx. On that date, Boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx and Richmond (Staten Island) were created. Brooklyn was coterminous with Kings County, the Boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx with New York County, and the Borough of Richmond with Richmond County. Queens County included the borough of Queens together with all of what today is known as Nassau County. The boroughs assumed most county functions, but did not replace them.[1]

The offices of borough president were created by charter in 1898 with the formation of the City of Greater New York, to preserve (in a later writer's words) “local pride and affection for the old municipalities” after consolidation.[2]

Memorial to Joseph Guider, Borough President of Brooklyn

On January 1, 1899, Queens County was partitioned. The easternmost three towns, with an area of 280 square miles (730 km2), were transferred to form Nassau County.[3]

On April 19, 1912, the New York State Legislature separated the County of Bronx (which began separate activity in January 1914) from the County of New York, which now became coextensive with the Borough of Manhattan.[4]

Role[edit]

To balance local authority along with the centralization of government, the Office of Borough President was established with a functional administrative role derived by having a vote on the New York City Board of Estimate, which was responsible for assisting in the formulation of the city's budget and controlling land use, contract, and franchise powers. The Board of Estimate consisted of the Mayor, the Comptroller and the President of the New York City Council, each of whom were elected citywide and had two votes, and the five Borough presidents, each having one vote.[5]

In 1989, the Supreme Court of the United States, in Board of Estimate of City of New York v. Morris (489 U.S. 688) declared the New York City Board of Estimate unconstitutional on the grounds that the city's most populous borough (Brooklyn) had no greater effective representation on the board than the city's least populous borough (Staten Island), this arrangement being an unconstitutional violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause pursuant to the high court's 1964 "one man, one vote" decision.[6]

The city charter was revised in 1990 and the Board of Estimate was abolished. The Office of Borough President was retained but with greatly reduced power. The borough budget reverted to the mayor or the New York City Council. A Borough President has a small discretionary budget to spend on projects within the borough. The last significant power of the borough presidents—to appoint a member of the New York City Board of Education —was abolished, with the board, on June 30, 2002.

The two major remaining appointments of a Borough President are one member of the city Planning Commission and one member of the Panel for Educational Policy. Borough Presidents generally adopt specific projects to promote while in office; but, since 1990, Borough Presidents have been seen mainly as the ceremonial leaders of their boroughs. Officially, they advise the Mayor on issues relating to each borough, comment on all land-use items in their borough, advocate borough needs in the annual municipal budget process, appoint Community Boards, chair the Borough Boards, and serve as ex officio members of various boards and committees. They generally act as advocates of their boroughs at the mayoral agencies, the City Council, the New York State government, public corporations and private businesses.

Borough presidents are elected to four-year terms; and can serve three consecutive terms (12 years) before term limits.[7]

As of 2014, the borough presidents are:

Borough President Party
The Bronx Ruben Diaz Jr. Democratic
Brooklyn Eric Adams Democratic
Manhattan Gale Brewer Democratic
Queens Melinda Katz Democratic
Staten Island James Oddo Republican

Borough Boards[edit]

Each Borough has a Borough Board consisting of the Borough President, the City Council members from the borough, and the chair of each of the borough's Community Boards. The Borough Boards meet monthly to serve the needs of the local communities. They may hold public hearings, make inquiries into the performance of public services, and make recommendations about city owned land use and sales within the borough.

Community Boards[edit]

New York City is divided into 59 administrative districts, each served by a Community Board. Community Boards are local representative bodies that serve as advocates for New York City residents and communities. Each board has up to 50 voting members, with one half of the membership appointed each year for two-year terms; there are no term limits. Additionally, all City Council members whose council districts cover part of a community district are ex-officio board members and may participate in all board activities. However, council members may not vote on board issues. Borough presidents appoint the voting Community Board members, with half of the appointees nominated by council members representing the district in proportion to the percentage of the community board's population they represent. Broadly assigned by the city charter to "Consider the needs of the district which it serves," the boards have been limited in their ability by ineffective local communication channels, minuscule budgets and archaic technology. As a result, many residents have concluded that they have little impact on the operation of their communities or their lives.

Office holders[edit]

Bronx Borough Presidents[edit]

# Borough President Party Term[n 1]
1 Louis M. Haffen (1854–1935) Democratic 1898–1909
2 John F. Murray (1862–1928) Democratic 1909–1910
3 Cyrus C. Miller (1866–1956) Democratic 1910–1914
4 Douglas Mathewson (?1870–1948) Republican/Fusion 1914–1918
5 Henry Bruckner (1871–1942) Democratic 1918–1934
6 James J. Lyons (1890–1966) Democratic 1934–1962
7 Joseph F. Periconi (1910–1994) Republican/Liberal 1962–1966
8 Herman Badillo (born 1929) Democratic 1966–1970
9 Robert Abrams (born 1938) Democratic 1970–1979
10 Stanley Simon Democratic 1979–1987
11 Fernando Ferrer (born 1950) Democratic 1987–2002
12 Adolfo Carrión, Jr. (born 1961) Democratic 2002–2009
13 Ruben Diaz, Jr. (born 1973) Democratic 2009-

Brooklyn Borough Presidents[edit]

# Borough President Party Term
1 Edward M. Grout (1861–1931) Democratic 1898–1901
2 J. Edward Swanstrom (1853–1911) Fusion 1902–1903
3 Martin W. Littleton (1872–1934) Democratic-Independent 1904–1905
4 Bird S. Coler (1867–1941) Municipal Ownership League 1906–1909
5 Alfred E. Steers (c. 1861–1948) Democratic-Independent 1910–1913
6 Lewis H. Pounds (1861–1947) Republican/Fusion 1913–1917
7 Edward J. Riegelmann (1870–1941) Democratic 1918–1924
8 Joseph A. Guider (1870–1926) Democratic 1925–1926
9 James J. Byrne (1863–1930) Democratic 1926–1930
10 Henry Hesterberg (c. 1882–1950) Democratic 1930–1933
11 Raymond V. Ingersoll (1875–1940) Democratic/Fusion 1934–1940
12 John Cashmore (1895–1961) Democratic 1940–1961
13 John F. Hayes (1915–2001) Democratic 1961
14 Abe Stark (1894–1972) Democratic 1962–1970
15 Sebastian Leone (born Democratic 1970–1976
16 Howard Golden (born 1925) Democratic 1977–2001
17 Marty Markowitz (born 1945) Democratic 2002–2013
18 Eric Adams Democratic 2014–

Manhattan Borough Presidents[edit]

  • Before 1874, when it annexed part of the Bronx, New York City was no greater in extent than the present Borough of Manhattan. For New York's mayors before 1898, see List of mayors of New York City.
# Borough President Party Term[n 2]
1 Augustus W. Peters (1844–1898) Democratic 1898–1899
2 James J. Coogan (1845–1915) Democratic 1899–1901
3 Jacob A. Cantor (1854–1921) Democratic 1902–1903
4 John F. Ahearn (1853–1920) Democratic 1904–1909
5 John Cloughen (acting) (died 1911) Democratic Dec. 1909 (4 days)
6 George McAneny1 (1869–1953) Fusion/Democratic 1910–1913
7 Marcus M. Marks (1858–1934) Republican 1914–1917
8 Frank Dowling2 (c. 1865–1919) Democratic 1918–1919
9 Edward F. Boyle (c.1876–1943) Democratic 1919
10 Michael Loughman (acting) (c.1867–1937) Democratic 1919
11 Henry H. Curran3 Republican 1920–1921
12 Julius Miller (1880–1955) Democratic 1922–1930
13 Samuel Levy (1876–1953) Democratic 1931–1937
14 Stanley M. Isaacs (1882–1962) Republican 1938–1941
15 Edgar J. Nathan (1891–1965) Republican 1942–1945
16 Hugo Rogers (1899–1974) Democratic 1946–1949
17 Robert F. Wagner, Jr.4 (1910–1991) Democratic 1950–1953
18 Hulan E. Jack5 (1906–1986) Democratic 1954–1961
19 Edward R. Dudley6 (1911–2005) Democratic 1961–1964
20 Constance Baker Motley (1921–2005) Democratic 1965
21 Percy Sutton3 (1920–2009) Democratic 1966–1977
22 Andrew Stein3 (born 1945) Democratic 1978–1985
23 David Dinkins7, 3 (born 1927) Democratic 1986–1989
24 Ruth Messinger3 (born 1941) Democratic 1990–1997
25 C. Virginia Fields3 (born 1946) Democratic 1998–2005
26 Scott Stringer (born 1960) Democratic 2006–2013
27 Gale Brewer (born 1951) Democratic 2014–


Notes:

†  Terms begin in January and end in December where not otherwise indicated.
c. (circa) approximately
1. President of the Board of Aldermen of the City of New York (first in succession to the Mayoralty), 1914–1916; New York City Comptroller, 1933
2. President of the Board of Aldermen, 1917
3. unsuccessful candidate for Mayor of the City of New York
4. Mayor of New York City, 1954–1965
5. removed from office January 16, 1961
6. on January 31, 1961, elected to fill vacancy; in November 1961, elected to a full term
7. Mayor of New York City, 1990–1993

Queens Borough Presidents[edit]

# Borough President Party Term[n 2]
1 Frederick Bowley (1851–1916) Democratic 1898–1901
2 Joseph Cassidy (c.1866–1920) Democratic 1902–1905
3 Joseph Bermel (1860–1921) Democratic 1906–1908
4 Lawrence Gresser (1851–1935) Democratic 1908–1911
5 Maurice E. Connolly (1881–1935) Democratic 1911–1928
6 Bernard M. Patten Democratic 1928
7 George U. Harvey (c. 1881–1946) Republican 1929–1941
8 James A. Burke (1890–1965) Democratic 1942–1949
9 Maurice A. FitzGerald (1897–1951) Democratic 1950–1951
10 Joseph F. Mafera (1895–1967) Democratic 1951
11 James A. Lundy (1903–1973) Republican 1952–1957
12 James J. Crisona (1907–2003) Democratic 1958–1959
13 John T. Clancy (1903–1985) Democratic 1959–1962
14 Mario J. Cariello (1907–1985) Democratic 1963–1968
15 Sidney Leviss (1917–2007) Democratic 1969–1971
16 Donald Manes1 (1934–1986) Democratic 1971–1986
17 Claire Shulman2 (born 1926) Democratic 1986–2001
18 Helen M. Marshall (born 1929) Democratic 2002–2013
19 Melinda Katz (born 1965) Democratic 2014–

Notes:

c. (circa) approximately
1. Stepped down as borough president in February after attempting suicide while under suspicion of corruption. Manes committed suicied on March 13, 1986.
2. First woman to hold this position

Richmond/Staten Island Borough Presidents[edit]

In 1975, the Borough of Richmond formally renamed itself the Borough of Staten Island.

# Borough President Party Term[n 2]
1 George Cromwell (1860–1934) Republican 1898–1913
2 Charles J. McCormack (died 1915) Democratic 1914–1915
3 Calvin D. Van Name (1857–1924) Democratic 1915–1921
4 Matthew J. Cahill (died 1922) Democratic 1922
5 John A. Lynch Democratic 1922–1933
6 Joseph A. Palma (1889–1969) Republican 1934–1945
7 Cornelius A. Hall (1889–1953) Democratic 1946–1953
8 Edward G. Baker (1906–1971) Democratic 1953–1954
9 Albert V. Maniscalco (1908–1998) Democratic 1955–1965
10 Robert T. Connor (1919–2009) Republican 1966–1977
11 Anthony Gaeta (1927–1988) Democratic 1978–1984
12 Ralph J. Lamberti (born 1933) Democratic 1984–1989
13 Guy V. Molinari (born 1928) Republican 1990–2001
14 James Molinaro (born 1931) Conservative 2002–2013
15 James Oddo (born 1966) Republican 2014–

Candidates for Mayor[edit]

The following borough presidents were unsuccessful candidates for Mayor of the City of New York:

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Terms begin and end in January where the month is not specified.
  2. ^ a b c Terms begin in January and end in December where not otherwise indicated.

References[edit]

  1. ^ New York. Laws of New York; 1897, 120th Session, Chapter 378; Section 2; Page 2.
  2. ^ Jackson, Kenneth T. (1995). The Encyclopedia of New York City. New Haven, Connecticut: The New York Historical Society and Yale University Press. pp. 129–130. ISBN 0-300-05536-6. 
  3. ^ New York. Laws of New York; 1899, 121st Session, Chapter 588; Section 1; Page 1336.
  4. ^ New York. Laws of New York; 1912, 135th Session, Chapter 548; Section 1; Page 1352.
  5. ^ Cornell Law School Supreme Court Collection: Board of Estimate of City of New York v. Morris, accessed June 12, 2006
  6. ^ Cornell Law School Supreme Court Collection: Board of Estimate of City of New York v. Morris, accessed June 12, 2006
  7. ^ 'A champion for Brooklyn': Pols have raised big bucks for race to become borough president By Lore Croghan (New York Daily News) January 14, 2013

External links[edit]