The big bucks are rolling out of the city’s wallet and into candidates’ coffers once again.
The New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB) shelled out close to $1.5 million to Queens candidates running for city council in its first round of public financing for the 2021 elections, the city agency reported on Tuesday.
The funds were distributed amongst 15 candidates running for city council districts in Queens in amounts ranging from $41,078 to $160,444.
City council candidate Lynn Schulman received the highest sum out of the Queens candidates –– $160,444, the maximum amount allowed after a 2018 referendum overhauled the program. Schulman is running in District 29 to replace term-limited City Councilmember Karen Koslowitz (D-Rego Park, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Richmond Hill).
City council candidates Richard Lee and Sandra Ung received the second and third highest amounts. Lee, who’s running in District 19 to replace term-limited City Councilmember Paul Vallone (D-Auburndale, Bay Terrace, Bayside, Beechhurst, College Point, Douglaston, Flushing, Little Neck, Malba, Whitestone), received $155,648 while Ung, who’s hoping to take over for term-limited City Councilmember Peter Koo (D-Downtown Flushing, Murray Hill, Queensboro Hill) in District 20, received $140,068 in public matching funds.
The CFB’s public matching fund program is an optional program designed to encourage small donations by New York City residents in campaign fundraising rather than large donations from special interest groups.
To qualify, candidates must meet two fundraising thresholds by raising a minimum amount of money from a minimum number of contributors. The thresholds vary by office. City council candidates must raise at least $5000 from at least 75 district residents. Once in the program, candidates will receive $8 in taxpayer money for every eligible dollar they raise.
In all, the city dolled out more than $17 million to candidates in the 2021 elections in the first round of public matching funds dispersals, according to the CFB. Two mayoral candidates, one comptroller candidate, two borough president candidates and 56 city council candidates qualified for the first round of funds. Forty-five of the candidates are first time recipients and fourteen received maximum payments. Over 96 percent of candidates in the 2021 elections opted into the program.
The breakdown of public funds issued by the CFB to Queens city council candidates in the first round is as follows:
Tony Avella, District 19 – $84,018
Richard Lee, District 19 – $155,648
Hailing Chen, District 20 – $72,101
Sandra Ung, District 20 – $140,068
Leonardo Bullaro, District 22 – $116,082
Evie Hantzopoulos, District 22 – $97,189
Shekar Krishnan, District 25 – $93,366
Lorenzo Brea, District 26 – $65,573
Julia L. Forman, District 26 – $48,321
Brent M. O’Leary, District 26 – $106,620
Lynn C. Schulman, District 29 – $160,444
Juan D. Ardila, District 30 – $74,229
Michael G. Scala, District 32 – $41,078
Felicia Singh, District 32 – $93,594
Jennifer Gutierrez, District 34 – $94,582