The 2021 elections include beep races in every borough. Jarrett Murphy explains what a borough president does, how the office has changed over the years and who’s running in Staten Island and The Bronx.

Manhattan BP’s Office, Adi Talwar, Willliam Alatriste/NYC Council, SI BP’s Office, Erica Sherman/Brooklyn BP’s Office

The city’s current borough presidents.

This year, along with elections for mayor, City Council and more, residents across the five boroughs will vote for their next borough president. But what’s a borough president do, anyway?

The office has been around since the boroughs were consolidated as the City of New York in 1898, but its powers were vastly altered nearly a century later. In 1989, the city’s Charter was revised to eliminate the Board of Estimate, on which each borough’s president sat and which had power over city land use, contract and budget decisions.

Today, borough presidents wield no legislative powers, but they do have an advisory role in land use decisions, appoint community board members, monitor city services and have some say over operating and capital budgets. They also play a very public role in advocating for their borough.

In this week’s episode of the The Check In, editor Jarrett Murphy explains more about the importance of the office and how these races are playing out so far in The Bronx and Staten Island.

The Check In: What’s a Borough President, Anyway?


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