Results from the 2023 Yonkers Civic Poll

The results are in! A couple of weeks ago we opened a 15 question poll about various civic issues in Yonkers. Questions ranged from one’s likelihood to vote to matters of racial segregation. Through word of mouth and social media we received hundreds of submissions to this poll. Now, we are going to break them all down.

Political Involvement

The first few questions in the poll were related to general political involvement and knowledge. And in this, our audience has proven themselves to be hyper-aware and active in the political arena. An impressive 98% of our respondents are registered voters. This compares to the about 45% registration rate city-wide. And of them, 96% said they will definitely be voting in the primary and general elections in 2023. As for the political ideology of these Yonkers voters, the trend follows closer to the national average of being moderates. This is in spite of the notion that New York is progressively left-leaning writ-large. The chart below visualizes this average position.

political affiliation
Average poll respondent’s self-identification from progressive to conservative.

And in this vain of being moderates, people were split almost evenly down the middle on their willingness to cross the political aisle to vote for someone of a different party. In Yonkers, this makes sense since our politicians change their party affiliation as often as their gym socks.

Since this group was very politically active, it’s also not surprising that most were also aware of recent political events. For example, 75% were aware the the City of Yonkers underwent its redistricting process this year and we now live in newly drawn council districts.

The issues

Considering we know that these hundreds of Yonkers residents are politically active moderates who are willing to vote for any party, what exactly do they care about? We asked respondents to rank their issues from the most to the least important and below is the final list.

  1. Public Safety
  2. Education
  3. Taxes
  4. Government Ethics & Transparency
  5. Roads/Infrastructure
  6. Energy Costs
  7. Affordable Housing
  8. Climate/Environment

After ranking one’s important issues, we asked if they thought that issue had improved, worsened, or remained the same in recent years. Unfortunately, almost 70% of people think their top issue has become worse recently. So, let’s look at the deeper questions we asked regarding some of these issues.

Public Safety

As public safety was the top issue, the immediate question on the efficacy of the Yonkers Police Department was addressed. In a ranking of how well the YPD is at “keeping citizens safe” from worst to best, the YPD scored pretty well at 3.46 on a scale from one to five. In the freeform answer section at the end of the survey, some asked for a greater police presence. Additionally, others desire to roll back the 2019 New York state bail reform legislation – despite the city having no authority and little influence to do so.


Despite an increase in the graduation rate of students within Yonkers Public Schools, many people still do not believe the public education system in the city is adequate. We asked what was the best way to improve YPS and below are the results:

public schools question
How best to improve Yonkers Public Schools

The good news here is that teachers and their union don’t appear to be at fault. What people think our schools need is more money. For years Yonkers has bemoaned New York state’s funding formula which sends less money to Yonkers as compared to similar cities. That sentiment persists in this poll. Unfortunately, the city budget in coming years likely won’t address this issue head-on.

Government Ethics & Transparency

Everyone knows the problems that Yonkers has in regards to ethics in government. At this point, corruption and Yonkers appear almost inseparable. So, we are therefore glad that we had the foresight to ask the following questions.

  • Should city officials be able to hire their immediate family members for government jobs?: No, that’s nepotism at 55% and Only if they are the best person for the job at 41%.
  • Is it OK for elected officials to also be employed at other city jobs? NO at 75%
  • Can politicians change the law to extend their own term limits, or is that exclusively the choice for voters? Term limits should only be changed by voters at 77%

The results are as unsurprising as they are consistent. These voters in Yonkers want an honest government. Elected officials shouldn’t hire their family members, “double-dip” from multiple tax-payer funded jobs, and not change the fundamental rules of their own offices.

Affordable Housing

Since our respondents were politically moderate, high-propensity voters who are concerned with public safety and taxes, it can be reasoned that they aren’t the primary recipients of affordable and low-income housing. Therefore, they did not rank this issue high on their list of priorities. However, they do seem aware and opinionated on the topic.

Ross F. Calcagno Homes apartment
Ross F. Calcagno Homes apartments complex – MHACY

Yonkers has a widely documented history of racial segregation in its not-so-distant history. So, we asked if people still thought that the east and west sides of Yonkers were still segregated. By a plurality, 46% of people thought that the east and west sides of Yonkers were still like “two different worlds.”

Secondly, the issue of taxation (specifically PILOTs) was asked. 75% of respondents thought that everyone should pay their fair share of taxes. Specifically stating that luxury developments did not need to be stimulated via tax rebates or other related incentives.

Will either the current or future officials listen?

Admittedly our voluntary sample of respondents is not fully representative of everyone in Yonkers. There are over 200 thousand residents in this city and they run the gamut in terms of racial and socio-economic diversity. While the sample size of this poll is scientifically noteworthy, there is definitely a skew towards the more affluent and engaged voter.

With that said, this is the group of people that usually affects change. As we have recently seen, the new district maps were redrawn as a direct result of active participation in the process. In that process, the legislators listened–and these residents were heard. Now in this poll: more funding for education, ending tax breaks for developers, and operating an honest government are all being plainly requested. But, will these same legislators pay attention to the feedback provided here? Or, will a new set of elected officials who are more receptive to their voters be sent to the halls of government in the months and years to come?

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