October 14, 2020
by: Adam Roberts
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.

With the 2020 general election fast approaching, much is at stake for New York City’s architects. Funding for sustainable design, transportation, and the basic functioning of our city’s government hang in the balance. Yet, there is another crucial election only months away: the 2021 NYC Election.

This election is much closer than most people realize. Since NYC is so overwhelmingly Democratic, most races will be decided in Democratic primaries, not in the 2021 general election. These primaries were recently moved from September to June, meaning that there is little over seven months between the November 2020 general election and the June 2021 NYC Democratic primary.

The marquee race for the local elections will be the mayoral race, with some of the more notable declared or soon-to-declared candidates being Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, former HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, Citigroup Vice Chair Ray McGuire, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, and MSNBC Legal Analyst Maya Wiley. Mayor de Blasio is barred from seeking another term due to term limits, which are also forcing two-thirds of the City Council, four Borough Presidents, and the NYC Comptroller to leave office.

The major issues for the 2021 NYC election are shaping up to be based around the built environment. New housing (or lack thereof), the Borough-Based Jails program to replace Rikers Island, and the future of NYC’s transit system are some of the most hotly contested issues. Whoever wins, and how they govern, will significantly impact not only architects who work in these areas, but all New Yorkers as well.

With the future of NYC’s built environment on the line in the upcoming election, the AIA New York Political Action Fund was formed to increase the presence of architects and architecture among candidates. Over the coming months, AIANY will be providing our members with many opportunities to interact with candidates. The first of these is a Meet and Greet with 2021 City Council Candidates on Tuesday, October 20, hosted by the AIANY Civic Leadership Program.

Pulse Points

  • With the 2020 general election almost here, critical voting deadlines are fast approaching. Absentee ballot requests are due by Tuesday, October 27. Also, early voting will last from Sunday, October 24 to Sunday, November 1. You can find a list of early voting sites here.
  • Due to a court decision, you now have until Saturday, October 31 to complete your 2020 US Census. Census results help determine the level of funding New York receives for capital projects, making it integral to the livelihoods of New York architects. Click here to fill out your census.
  • In partnership with NYCxDesign, the NYC Economic Development Corporation, and Design Advocates, AIANY has launched the Design Corps. The Design Corps is a group of volunteer architects who assist restaurants in reopening as government-mandated closures are relaxed. To sign up and learn more about the program, click here.


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