Government and politics of the Bronx
The Borough of the Bronx in New York City and The County of Bronx in New York State govern the same people and the same land — between the Borough of Manhattan (New York County) to the south and the County of Westchester to the north. The Borough's functions are mainly municipal, administrative and political, while the County's jurisdiction (unlike those of counties outside New York City) is confined principally to judicial and legal matters.
The City of New York, which also constituted the County of New York and then consisted of Manhattan with some surrounding islands, annexed the West Bronx in 1874 and the East Bronx in 1895. The Bronx assumed a distinct status in 1898 as one of the Five Boroughs of the City of Greater New York, together with Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. It was only in 1914 that the present Bronx County was formed by taking the borough's territory out of New York County.
Since New York City's consolidation in 1898, the Bronx has been governed by the New York City Charter that provides for a "strong" mayor-council system. The centralized New York City government is responsible for public education, correctional institutions, libraries, public safety, recreational facilities, sanitation, water supply, and welfare services in the Bronx.
|Borough Presidents of the Bronx|
|Louis F. Haffen||Democratic||1898 - Aug. 1909|
|John F. Murray||Democratic||Aug. 1909 - 1910|
|Cyrus C. Miller||Democratic||1910–1914|
|James J. Lyons||Democratic||1934–1962|
|Joseph F. Periconi||Republican-
|Stanley Simon||Democratic||1979 - April 1987|
|Fernando Ferrer||Democratic||April 1987 - 2002|
|Adolfo Carrión, Jr.||Democratic||2002 - March 2009|
|Ruben Diaz, Jr.||Democratic||May 2009 -|
|† Terms begin and end in January
where the month is not specified.
The office of Borough President was created in the consolidation of 1898 to balance centralization with local authority. Each borough president had a powerful administrative role derived from having a vote on the New York City Board of Estimate, which was responsible for creating and approving the city's budget and proposals for land use. In 1989 the Supreme Court of the United States declared the Board of Estimate unconstitutional on the grounds that Brooklyn, the most populous borough, had no greater effective representation on the Board than Staten Island, the least populous borough, a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause pursuant to the high court's 1964 "one man, one vote" decision.
Since 1990 the Borough President has acted as an advocate for the borough at the mayoral agencies, the City Council, the New York state government, and corporations.
Until March 1, 2009, the Borough President of the Bronx was Adolfo Carrión Jr., elected as a Democrat in 2001 and 2005 before retiring early to direct the White House Office of Urban Affairs Policy. His successor, Democratic New York State Assembly member Rubén Díaz, Jr., who won a special election on April 21, 2009 by a vote of 86.3% (29,420) on the "Bronx Unity" line to 13.3% (4,646) for the Republican district leader Anthony Ribustello on the "People First" line, became Borough President on May 1.
All of the Bronx's currently-elected public officials have first won the nomination of the Democratic Party (in addition to any other endorsements). Local party platforms center on affordable housing, education and economic development. Controversial political issues in the Bronx include environmental issues, the cost of housing, and annexation of parkland for new Yankee Stadium.
Since its separation from New York County on January 1, 1914, the Bronx, has had, like each of the other 61 counties of New York State, its own criminal court system and District Attorney, the chief public prosecutor who is directly elected by popular vote. Robert T. Johnson, a Democrat, has been the District Attorney of Bronx County since 1989. He was the first African-American District Attorney in New York State.
Eight members of the New York City Council represent districts wholly within the Bronx (11-18), while a ninth represents a Manhattan district (8) that also includes a small area of the Bronx. One of those members, Joel Rivera (District 15), has been the Council's Majority Leader since 2002. In 2008, all of them were Democrats.
The Bronx also has twelve Community Boards, appointed bodies that field complaints and advise on land use and municipal facilities and services for local residents, businesses and institutions. (They are listed at Bronx Community Boards).
Representatives in the U.S. Congress
|Candidates winning non-judicial elections in the Bronx since 2004|
|year||office||winner of the Bronx
† (failed to win overall contest)
|2004||U.S. President & V.P.||† John Kerry–John Edwards, D-WF||81.8%||48.3%|
|2005||Mayor of New York||† Fernando Ferrer, D||59.8%||39.0%|
|Public Advocate||Betsy Gotbaum, D||93.8%||90.0%|
|City Comptroller||William C. Thompson, Jr., D-WF||95.5%||92.6%|
|Borough President||Adolfo Carrión, Jr., D||83.8%|
|2006||U.S. Senator||Hillary Clinton, D-WF-Independence||89.5%||67.0%|
|Governor & Lt Gov.||Eliot Spitzer–David Paterson, D-WF-Indpce||88.8%||69.0%|
|State Comptroller||Alan G. Hevesi, D-WF-Independence||84.5%||56.8%|
|NY Attorney-General||Andrew M. Cuomo, D-Working Families||82.6%||58.3%|
|2007||Bronx Dist. Attorney||Robert T. Johnson, D-R-Conservative||100–%|
|2008||Democratic Pres.||† Hillary Clinton||61.2%||48.0%|
|Republican Pres.||John McCain||54.4%||46.6%|
|U.S. President & V.P.||Barack Obama–Joseph Biden, D-WF||87.8%||52.9%|
|2009||Borough President||Ruben Diaz, Jr., Bronx Unity||86.3%|
|individual legislative districts|
|2005||New York City Council|
|Council District 8||Melissa Mark Viverito, D-WF||100.%||100.%|
|Council District 11||G. Oliver Koppell, D||81.1%|
|Council District 12||Larry B. Seabrook, D||87.2%|
|Council District 13||James Vacca, D||64.4%|
|Council District 14||María Baez, D||94.7%|
|Council District 15||Joel Rivera, D (majority leader)||91.0%|
|Council District 16||Helen D. Foster, D-R-Working Families||98.6%|
|Council District 17||María Del Carmen Arroyo, D-Indep'ce||98.3%|
|Council District 18||Annabel Palma, D-WF||89.1%|
|2006||U.S. House of Representatives|
|Cong. District 7||Joseph Crowley, D-WF||84.9%||84.0%|
|Cong. District 16||José E. Serrano, D-WF||95.3%|
|Cong. District 17||Eliot L. Engel, D-WF||89.3%||76.4%|
|New York State Senate|
|Senate District 28||José M. Serrano, D-WF||100.%||100.%|
|Senate District 31||Eric T. Schneiderman, D-WF||88.8%||92.3%|
|Senate District 32||Rubén Díaz, D||92.5%|
|Senate District 33||Efraín González, Jr., D||96.9%|
|Senate District 34||Jeffrey D. Klein, D-WF||64.8%||61.2%|
|Senate District 36||Ruth H. Thompson, D-WF||95.4%||95.4%|
|New York State Assembly|
|Assembly District 76||Peter M. Rivera, D-WF||91.8%|
|Assembly District 77||Aurelia Greene, D-WF||94.9%|
|Assembly District 78||José Rivera, D||89.7%|
|Assembly District 79||Michael A. Benjamin, D||95.1%|
|Assembly District 80||Naomi Rivera, D||74.6%|
|Assembly District 81||Jeffrey Dinowitz, D-WF||95.1%|
|Assembly District 82||Michael R. Benedetto, D-WF||81.4%|
|Assembly District 83||Carl E. Heastie, D-WF||94.1%|
|Assembly District 84||Carmen E. Arroyo, D||92.7%|
|Assembly District 85||Rubén Díaz, Jr., D||94.8%|
|Assembly District 86||Luís M. Diaz, D||94.6%|
|D = Democratic Party; R = Republican Party;
WF = Working Families Party; Indpce = Independence Party of New York
In 2008, three Democrats represented almost all of the Bronx in the United States House of Representatives.
- José Serrano (first elected in March 1990) represents the 15th Congressional District which covers much of the South Bronx, including Hunt's Point, Mott Haven, Melrose, Morrisania, High Bridge, Tremont, East Tremont, University Heights, Bedford Park and Fordham.
- Eliot Engel (first elected in 1988) represents the 17th District which includes parts of the northwest Bronx, including Riverdale, Kingsbridge, Norwood, Woodlawn and Wakefield, as well as parts of Westchester and Rockland counties.
- Joseph Crowley (first elected in 1998) represents the 7th District which spans the east Bronx and includes Co-op City, City Island, Pelham Bay, Morris Park, Pelham Parkway, Parkchester, Castle Hill and Throgs Neck, as well as parts of northwest Queens.
- (Riker's Island, the city's main jail complex, is included in the 15th District, which covers Upper Manhattan and utilities facilities in Astoria, Queens. It is represented by the dean of the state's congressional delegation, House Ways and Means Committee chair Charles B. Rangel, first elected in 1970. In 2006, the Congressional election returns in this district included no votes from the Bronx or Queens.)
All of these Representatives won over 75% of their districts' respective votes in both 2004 and 2006. National Journal's neutral rating system placed all of their voting records in 2005 and in 2006 (both sessions of the 109th Congress) somewhere between very liberal and extremely liberal.
Votes for other offices
In the 2004 presidential election, Senator John F. Kerry received 81.8% of the vote in the Bronx (79.8% on the Democratic line plus 2% on the Working Families Party's line) while President George W. Bush received 16.3% (15.5% Republican plus 0.85% Conservative).
In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama improved on Kerry's showing, and took 88.7% of the vote in the Bronx to Republican John McCain's 10.9%. Four years later, in 2012, Obama performed even more strongly in the Bronx, with the Democrat receiving a whopping 91.5% of the vote to Republican Mitt Romney's 8.1%, the strongest showing ever for a Democratic presidential nominee in the Bronx.
A year later, the Democratic former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer won 59.8% of the borough's vote against 38.8% (35.3% Republican, 3.5% Independence Party) for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who carried every other borough in his winning campaign for re-election.
In 2006, successfully-reelected Senator Hillary Clinton won 89.5% of the Bronx's vote (82.8% Dem. + 4.1% Working Families + 2.6% Independence) against Yonkers ex-Mayor John Spencer's 9.6% (8.2% Republican + 1.4% Cons.), while Eliot Spitzer won 88.8% of the Borough's vote (82.1% Dem. + 4.1% Working Families + 2.5% Independence Party) in winning the Governorship against John Faso, who received 9.7% of the Bronx's vote (8.2% Republican + 1.5% Cons.)
In the Presidential primary elections of February 5, 2008, Sen. Clinton won 61.2% of the Bronx's 148,636 Democratic votes against 37.8% for Barack Obama and 1.0% for the other four candidates combined (John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich, Bill Richardson and Joe Biden). On the same day, John McCain won 54.4% of the borough's 5,643 Republican votes, Mitt Romney 20.8%, Mike Huckabee 8.2%, Ron Paul 7.4%, Rudy Giuliani 5.6%, and the other candidates (Fred Thompson, Duncan Hunter and Alan Keyes) 3.6% between them.
After becoming a separate county in 1914, the Bronx has supported only two Republican Presidential candidates. It voted heavily for the winning Republican Warren G. Harding in 1920, but much more narrowly on a split vote for his victorious Republican successor Calvin Coolidge in 1924 (Coolidge 79,562; John W. Davis, Dem., 72,834; Robert La Follette, 62,202 equally divided between the Progressive and Socialist lines).
Since then, the Bronx has always supported the Democratic Party's nominee for President, starting with a vote of 2-1 for the unsuccessful Al Smith in 1928, followed by four 2-1 votes for the successful Franklin D. Roosevelt. (Both had been Governors of New York, but Republican former Gov. Thomas E. Dewey won only 28% of the Bronx's vote in 1948 against 55% for Pres. Harry Truman, the winning Democrat, and 17% for Henry A. Wallace of the Progressives. It was only 32 years earlier, by contrast, that another Republican former Governor who narrowly lost the Presidency, Charles Evans Hughes, had won 42.6% of the Bronx's 1916 vote against Democratic President Woodrow Wilson's 49.8% and Socialist candidate Allan Benson's 7.3%.)
The Bronx has often shown striking differences from other boroughs in elections for Mayor. The only Republican to carry the Bronx since 1914 was Fiorello La Guardia in 1933, 1937 and 1941 (and in the latter two elections, only because his 30-32% vote on the American Labor Party line was added to 22-23% as a Republican). The Bronx was thus the only borough not carried by the successful Republican re-election campaigns of Mayors Rudolph Giuliani in 1997 and Michael Bloomberg in 2005. The anti-war Socialist campaign of Morris Hillquit in the 1917 mayoral election won over 31% of the Bronx's vote, putting him second and well ahead of the 20% won by the incumbent pro-war Fusion Mayor John P. Mitchel, who came in second (ahead of Hillquit) everywhere else and outpolled Hillquit city-wide by 23.2% to 21.7%.
The Bronx County Vote for President and Mayor since 1952
|President & Vice President of the United States||Mayor of the City of New York|
|2012||8.1% 29,967||91.5% 339,211||Obama||Obama||2013||Bill de Blasio,
|Bill de Blasio,
|2008||10.9% 41,683||88.7% 338,261||Obama||Obama||2009||William C. Thompson, Jr,
R–Indep'ce/Jobs & Educ'n
|2004||16.3% 56,701||81.8% 283,994||Kerry||GW Bush||2005||Fernando Ferrer, D||Mike Bloomberg, R/Lib-Indep'ce|
|2000||11.8% 36,245||86.3% 265,801||Gore||GW Bush||2001||Mark Green,
|1996||10.5% 30,435||85.8% 248,276||Clinton||Clinton||1997||Ruth Messinger, D||Rudolph Giuliani, R-Liberal|
|1992||20.7% 63,310||73.7% 225,038||Clinton||Clinton||1993||David Dinkins, D||Rudolph Giuliani, R-Liberal|
|1988||25.5% 76,043||73.2% 218,245||Dukakis||GHW Bush||1989||David Dinkins, D||David Dinkins, D|
|1984||32.8% 109,308||66.9% 223,112||Mondale||Reagan||1985||Edward Koch, D-Indep.||Edward Koch, D-Independent|
|1980||30.7% 86,843||64.0% 181,090||Carter||Reagan||1981||Edward Koch, D-R||Edward Koch, D-R|
|1976||28.7% 96,842||70.8% 238,786||Carter||Carter||1977||Edward Koch, D||Edward Koch, D|
|1972||44.6% 196,756||55.2% 243,345||McGovern||Nixon||1973||Abraham Beame, D||Abraham Beame, D|
|1968||32.0% 142,314||62.4% 277,385||Humphrey||Nixon||1969||Mario Procaccino,
D-Nonpartisan-Civil Svce Ind.
|John V. Lindsay, Liberal|
|1964||25.2% 135,780||74.7% 403,014||Johnson||Johnson||1965||Abraham Beame,
D-Civil Service Fusion
|1960||31.8% 182,393||67.9% 389,818||Kennedy||Kennedy||1961||Robert F. Wagner, Jr.,
|Robert F. Wagner, Jr.,
|1956||42.8% 256,909||57.2% 343,656||Stevenson||Eisenhower||1957||Robert F. Wagner, Jr.,
|Robert F. Wagner, Jr.,
|1952||37.3% 241,898||60.6% 309,482||Stevenson||Eisenhower||1953||Robert F. Wagner, Jr., D||Robert F. Wagner, Jr., D|
- Republican and Democratic columns for Presidential elections also include their candidates' votes on other lines, such as the New York State Right to Life Party and the Working Families Party.
- For details of votes and parties in a particular election, click the year or see New York City mayoral elections.
- Government of New York City
- Government of Staten Island (for comparison)
- New York City mayoral elections (with borough-by-borough results since 1897)
- Cornell Law School Supreme Court Collection: Board of Estimate of City of New York v. Morris, accessed June 12, 2006
- Trymaine Lee, "Bronx Voters Elect Díaz as New Borough President", The New York Times, New York edition, April 22, 2009, page A24, retrieved on May 13, 2009
- The Board of Elections in the City of New York, Bronx Borough President special election results, April 21, 2009 (PDF with details by Assembly District, April 29, 2009), retrieved on May 13, 2009
- On the start of business for Bronx County: BRONX COUNTY IN MOTION. New Officials All Find Work to Do on Their First Day. The New York Times, January 3, 1914 (PDF retrieved on June 26, 2008): "Despite the fact that the new Bronx County Court House is not completed there was no delay yesterday in getting the court machinery in motion. All the new county officials were on hand and the County Clerk, the District Attorney, the Surrogate, and the County Judge soon had things in working order. The seal to be used by the new county was selected by County Judge Louis D. Gibbs. It is circular. In the centre is a seated figure of Justice. To her right is an American shield and over the figure is written 'Populi Suprema.' ...
"Surrogate George M. S. Schulz, with his office force, was busy at the stroke of 9 o'clock. Two wills were filed in the early morning, but owing to the absence of a safe they were recorded and then returned to the attorneys for safe keeping. ...
"There was a rush of business to the new County Clerk's office. Between seventy-five and a hundred men applied for first naturalization papers. Two certificates of incorporation were issued, and seventeen judgments, seven lis pendens, three mechanics' liens and one suit for negligence were filed.
"Sheriff O'Brien announced several additional appointments."
- The Almanac of American Politics 2008, edited by Michael Barone with Richard E. Cohen and Grant Ujifusa, National Journal Group, Washington, D.C., 2008 ISBN 978-0-89234-117-7 (paperback) or -116-0 (hardback), chapter on New York state
- Board of Elections in the City of New York election results, retrieved on July 8, 2008.
- Board of Elections in the City of New York Summary of Election Results (1999-2008), retrieved on July 21, 2008.
- The World Almanac and Book of Facts for 1929 & 1957; Our Campaigns (New York Counties Bronx President History); The Encyclopedia of New York City, edited by Kenneth T. Jackson (Yale University Press and The New York Historical Society, New Haven, Connecticut, 1995 ISBN 0-300-05536-6), article on "government and politics"
- (The Republican line exceeded the ALP's in every other borough)
- To see a comparison of borough votes for Mayor, see New York City mayoral elections#How the boroughs voted