Three questions will appear on your ballot November 8, 2022. Learn more about what’s on your ballot below.
Add a Statement of Values to Guide Government
Ballot Question #1: Add a Statement of Values to Guide Government
This proposal would amend the New York City Charter to:
Add a preamble, which would be an introductory statement of values and vision aspiring toward “a just and equitable city for all” New Yorkers; and
Include in the preamble a statement that the City must strive to remedy “past and continuing harms and to reconstruct, revise, and reimagine our foundations, structures, institutions, and laws to promote justice and equity for all New Yorkers.”
The preamble is intended to guide City government in fulfilling its duties.
Shall this proposal be adopted?
Ballot Abstract Text
This proposal creates a preamble to the New York City Charter.
A preamble is a statement at the beginning of a legal document that explains its purpose or goals. The New York City Charter does not currently have a preamble. Adding a preamble would allow New Yorkers to adopt a vision and statement of foundational values intended to guide City government in fulfilling its duties.
The preamble to the New York City Charter would read:
We, the people of New York city, declare that our city is a multiracial democracy, and that our diversity is our strength. We honor and respect the cultures, languages, and histories of all who call and have called this land home, and we celebrate their revolutionary imagination, courage, and resiliency.
We strive to be a city where the value, talents, and contributions of every New Yorker are recognized and embraced, and where equity and inclusiveness, community empowerment, accessibility, and opportunity for every New Yorker are the unwavering standards to which we are held accountable in all aspects of governance, business, and service delivery.
We endeavor to ensure that every person who resides in New York city has the opportunity to thrive with:
(i) A safe, healthy, and sustainable living environment;
(ii) A resilient neighborhood served by quality and accessible infrastructure and services as well as a robust local economy;
(iii) Vibrant and welcoming public spaces throughout New York city, where everyone belongs and can move freely;
(iv) Resources necessary to prosper economically and build wealth;
(v) Safe, secure, and affordable housing;
(vi) Quality and culturally-relevant child and youth supports, including early childhood and pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade education;
(vii) Compassionate and culturally-responsive health, trauma, and mental health care;
(viii) Access and opportunity to participate meaningfully in government decision-making; and
(ix) Humane, empathetic, and respectful treatment.
We recognize that New York city sits on the traditional territories of the original inhabitants, the Lenape, and we endeavor to honor their stewardship of the land by protecting our environment and all living things.
We acknowledge the grave injustices and atrocities that form part of our country’s history, including the forced labor of enslaved Africans, the colonialism that displaced Indigenous people from their lands, the devaluing and underpaying of immigrant workers, and the discrimination, racial segregation, mass incarceration, and other forms of violence and systemic inequity that continue to be experienced by marginalized groups, including, but not limited to, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern, and other People of Color, women, religious minorities, immigrants, people who are LGBTQ+, and people with disabilities. We also recognize that these systemic injustices are at the foundation of so many of society’s structures and institutions, and have caused profound physical, emotional, social, and psychological harm and trauma to individuals, families, and communities. They have also resulted in widespread loss of economic opportunity and intergenerational wealth. The effects of these harms are deeply engrained, systemic, and continuing. We are ever mindful that vigilance is required to prevent the recurrence of past or worsening of continuing harms. We must act intentionally to remedy these past and continuing harms and to reconstruct, revise and reimagine our foundations, structures, institutions, and laws to promote justice and equity for all New Yorkers.
The collective values set out in this preamble will guide the operation of our city government and inform and shape how the city carries out the duties, obligations, and authorities, and upholds and protects the rights set out in the charter.
We, the people of New York city, united in our resolve to build a just and equitable city for all, recognize the efforts of those New Yorkers, past and present, who fought for racial equity and social justice, honor the contributions of those New Yorkers who have suffered in the name of freedom, and acknowledge all who fought, struggled, and dreamed for a better life and a better city. Together, we stand on their shoulders as we move boldly toward a brighter tomorrow for ourselves, our children, and future generations.
The proposed preamble would be used to guide City agencies and officials in carrying out their duties related to planning, program reviews and audits. It would not create a direct or indirect right of action to enforce its terms or the terms of any other provision of law. It would take effect upon certification that the electors have approved such amendments to the Charter.
Download the Full Report
In developing the three Ballot Questions, Racial Justice Commission members heard and learned from everyday New Yorkers, community advocates and scholars and experts.
This full report presents in detail three structural changes, in the form of Ballot Questions, to appear on the November 8, 2022, ballot, along with a roadmap for further action the City should take to dismantle structural racism at all levels of government.