New York, NY — On October 31, 2018, the New York City Council passed landmark legislation, endorsed by the Progressive Caucus, to allow candidates to use campaign funds to pay for childcare expenses, thus breaking down a common barrier for parents, particularly women, to run for office. The legislation was introduced by Progressive Caucus Vice-Chair Keith Powers and Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo, and was co-sponsored by 19 other Progressive Caucus members. All 22 members of the Progressive Caucus voted in favor of the bill.
The legislation follows a similar ruling last May by the Federal Election Commission (FEC), which allowed candidates to use federal campaign funds to pay for childcare costs that result from time spent running for office. The FEC ruled unanimously in favor of New York congressional candidate Liuba Grechen Shirley, who asked the FEC for a ruling on whether she could use campaign funds to pay for childcare for her two young children. The Council’s legislation now applies the FEC ruling to local candidates in New York City.
“There are many costs associated with running for office, but few so impactful as to make or break a candidate’s decision to run. This legislation changes the game for would-be candidates, especially women candidates,” said Council Member Keith Powers, Vice-Chair of the Progressive Caucus. “New York City can now line up with federal and state election rules around child-care expenses, and there is no doubt that this legislation will encourage new mothers and new fathers to run for office.”
“To truly support women as political leaders, we must look at the reality of their lives. For many women, childcare is an insurmountable barrier when it comes to running for office,” said New York City Council Majority Leader, Laurie A. Cumbo. “Here, in New York City, we have the opportunity to break that barrier with this legislation, which allows campaign funds to be used for childcare expenses when the candidate is the primary caregiver. I know firsthand the challenges of balancing family and a political career, and I would love nothing more than for other moms and primary caregivers to no longer feel like they have to choose between career and family. Thank you to Council Member Powers for his tremendous leadership and partnership on this effort.”
“Allowing candidates to utilize campaign funds for childcare expenses will encourage more women with young children to run for office, especially as female representation is needed throughout municipal government,” said Council Member Diana Ayala, Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus. “As a mother, grandmother, and newly elected Council Member, I am proud to sponsor this important piece of legislation with my colleagues.”
“I am proud to stand with my colleagues as a co-sponsor of Introduction 899. For too long, childcare has been dismissed as an afterthought, rather than a necessity. As a mother who knows firsthand the magnitude of time and resources required to raise one’s young children, it is obvious to me that childcare is as vital to the smooth function of a primary caregiver’s election campaign as any other expenditure,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Chair of the Committee on Women and Member of the Progressive Caucus. “With an unprecedented number of women running for office across the country, New York City has an opportunity here to codify an unassailable standard of inclusivity and respect in our campaign law. I encourage my fellow Council Members to pass this imperative and timely piece of legislation.”
“Today marks a bold step in the creation of a democracy which truly reflects our diverse communities. By eliminating the barriers keeping qualified women from running for office, this legislation is a game changer in the efforts to increase women’s representation in all levels of City government,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin, Co-Chair of the Women’s Caucus and Member of the Progressive Caucus. “This legislation not only reforms the campaign finance process, a system that has benefited the status quo for too long — it affirms our City’s longstanding commitment to inclusion and gender equity. I am proud to join Council Member Keith Powers, Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo and my fellow colleagues to fight for more opportunities for women in local leadership to run for office, and in paving the way for a future where New Yorkers of every community can see themselves reflected in their government.”
“One of the most common reasons women tell me they won’t run for office in New York is because of the cost – both financially and emotionally on their families. Now we are on the verge of finally codifying rules that will allow candidates in our city to use campaign funds to pay for child care costs,” said Council Member Carlina Rivera, Co-Chair of the Women’s Caucus and Member of the Progressive Caucus. “I want to congratulate my Council colleagues, particularly Council Member Powers, for the passage of this historic legislation. I also want to thank New York Democratic House candidate Liuba Grechen Shirley, whose successful fight at the FEC is now paving the way for New York and municipalities across the country to finally give parents of young children a fair opportunity to seek and win elected office.”