The History of the New York City Legislature

By Frederick Shaw | Go to book overview

EPILOGUE

How did the City Council fare in the 1949 elections under the majority system? Predictions that the city legislature would revert to a one-party régime proved only too accurate. The campaign manager of the Keep-P. R. forces in 1947 had foretold the precise results, 24 to 1.30 Had the Liberals not endorsed Republican candidate Stanley M. Isaacs, the Democrats might have made a clean sweep--with a bare majority of the vote. The following table indicates the results:31

Percentage of
Votes
Percentage of
Seats Won
Seats in Proportion
to Votes Cast
Seats Won
Democratic 52.6 96 13.2 24
Republican 21.6 4b 5.4 1b
Liberal 13.7 0c 3.4 0c
American Labor 11.9 0 3.0 0
----- ----- ----- -----
99.8a 100 25.0 25
aDoes not include the 20,000 votes cast for Communist Councilman Davis.
bOne coalition candidate was endorsed by Republicans, Democrats, and Lib-
erals. During his incumbency he sat with the Democrats and was referred to as
a Democrat in the press.
cFive candidates endorsed by the Liberal Party gained seats--three Democrats,
one Republican, and one coalition nominee. In practice they acted as four Demo-
crats and one Republican.

The return of the district system rounded out a full cycle. A single party again enjoyed a near-monopoly in the city legislature; once again a large segment of the electorate was unrepresented. Choice of candidates once more became the perquisite of the district leaders.32 Although State Senate districts had been reapportioned only six years before, representation was no longer equal. In 1949 Brooklyn elected one Councilman for every 88,000 voters, Queens one for every 118,000. Differences

____________________
30
Letter of the Hon. John J. Lamula to the New York Herald-Tribune, November 14, 1949.
31
Nat. Mun. Rev., XXXVIII, 566-67; Annual Rep. of Bd. of Elects., 1949, pp. 78-86, 93.
32
When the Board of Aldermen contained 65 members almost every district leader named his own alderman. Now that the Council has been reduced to 25, some horse trading is necessary. Within each Senate district the district leaders parcel out the available appointive and elective offices, including the Councilmanic nomination, on the basis of mutual agreement.

-245-

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