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James Vacca (born March 27, 1955) is an American politician who served in the New York City Council from the 13th district from 2006 to 2017. He is a Democrat.

James Vacca
Member of the New York City Council from the 13th district
In office
January 1, 2006 – December 31, 2017
Preceded byMadeline Provenzano
Succeeded byMark Gjonaj
Personal details
Born (1955-03-27) March 27, 1955 (age 64)
The Bronx, New York City
Political partyDemocratic
Alma materState University of New York (B.A)
Queens College (M.A.)
WebsiteOfficial website

The district includes Allerton, Baychester, Bronx Park, City Island, Co-op City, Country Club, Ferry Point Park, Hart Island, Morris Park, Pelham Bay, Pelham Bay Park, Pelham Islands, Schuylerville, Throggs Neck, part of Van Nest and Westchester Square in The Bronx.[1]

Life and careerEdit

Vacca was born in the Bronx in 1955 and raised in Pelham Bay. He attended New York City public schools, graduating from P.S. 71, J.H.S. 101, and Christopher Columbus High School. He holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science from the State University of New York and a master's degree in Urban Studies from CUNY Queens College. Vacca is also a distinguished lecturer at CUNY Queens College, where he teaches courses in urban studies.

Prior to being elected to the City Council in 2005, Vacca served as District Manager of Bronx Community Board 10 for 26 years, and was appointed to the position in 1980, when he was only 25 years old, becoming one of the youngest District Managers in the city's history. He had previously served as Chairman of the Board. For numerous consecutive years under his leadership, Board 10 was ranked the cleanest and safest community board in the Bronx.[2]

Vacca came out as a gay man in 2016.[3]

New York City CouncilEdit

In early 2005, with Councilwoman Madeline Provenzano term-limited out of office, Vacca announced his candidacy for the 13th Council District seat. Already an established public figure in the East Bronx due to his years as District Manager, he was endorsed by Congressman Joseph Crowley, State Senator Jeffrey Klein, and Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, as well as dozens of community and civic groups, and The New York Times.[4]

In the September 13, 2005, Democratic Party primary, he faced four opponents: former Assemblyman Stephen B. Kaufman, Joseph A. McManus, Ismael Betancourt, and Egidio Joseph Sementelli. He won with nearly 40% of the vote; Kaufman captured roughly 25%.[5] In the general election, he defeated Philip F. Foglia, candidate of the Republican, Conservative and Independence Party lines, with 64% of the vote.[6]

In 2009, Vacca ran for re-election under the Democratic and Republican lines, after being cross-endorsed by the Bronx Republican Party.[7] Facing a little-known challenger running on the Conservative Party line, Vacca was easily re-elected to a second term, winning 92.8% of the vote. He easily won election to a final term in 2013 with over 83% of the vote.[8]

On Council, Vacca has been a strong advocate for responsible zoning laws and for prevention of overdevelopment. In 2007, Vacca was also named co-chair of the Council's Working Group on School Governance and Mayoral Control, established to guide the Council recommendations upon the expiration of mayoral control in 2009.[9] After months of informal meetings with educators, union leaders, Administration officials, advocates, and parents, the Working Group issued its report in June 2009[10].[11][12] The report suggested a new system of municipal control.[13] Later that month, the New York State legislature passed 8903-A, a bill relating to the management and operation of the New York City School District.[14]

Vacca has also been influential in protecting funding for the Fire Department of New York.[15] He also has been a proponent of congestion pricing.[16]

In August 2017, as chair of the Committee on Technology, Vacca introduced an algorithmic transparency bill, Int. 1696-2017, that would require city agencies "that use algorithms or other automated processing methods that target services, impose penalties, or police persons to publish the source code used for such processing" -- a nationwide first.[17][18][19] The bill was influenced by the scholarship of danah boyd, Kate Crawford, and Cathy O'Neil.[20][21] After public hearings and negotiation with city agencies, an amended bill, Int. 1696-A, passed the City Council unanimously in December 2017.[22][23] The amended bill creates a task force to consider the issue and report to the city in late 2019.[24] Researcher Julia Powles, assessing the amended bill in The New Yorker, predicted that the task force's findings will have significant international and domestic impact, but warned that the bill's lack of reporting requirements for city agencies means the task force will need to rely on agencies' voluntary disclosures, which may be sparse.[25]

Election history
Location Year Election Results
NYC Council
District 13
2005 Democratic
√ James Vacca 38.41%
Stephen Kaufman 25.70%
Joseph McManus 20.41%
Ismael Betancourt Jr. 10.15%
Egidio Sementilli 5.33%
NYC Council
District 13
2005 General √ James Vacca (D) 64.39%
Philip F. Foglia (R) 35.61%
NYC Council
District 13
2009 General √ James Vacca (D) 94.22%
Frank Dellavalle (Conservative) 5.78%
NYC Council
District 13
2013 General √ James Vacca (D) 83.23%
William Britt (R) 16.70%


  1. ^ "NYCityMap". Retrieved 2016-03-21.
  2. ^ "James Vacca, the King of Clean". New York Times. 1994-08-07. Retrieved 2015-09-23.
  3. ^ "Flood of Support After Bronx Councilman James Vacca Reveals on Twitter He Is Gay". The New York Times. January 22, 2016.
  4. ^ "City Council Endorsements". New York Times. 2005-08-28. Retrieved 2015-09-23.
  5. ^ "Statement and Return Report for Certification: Primary Election 2005 - Bronx County - Democratic Party" (PDF). Board of Elections in the City of New York. 2015-09-13. Retrieved 2017-12-24.
  6. ^ "Statement and Return Report for Certification, General Election 2005, for Member of the City Council (13)" (PDF). Board of Elections in the City of New York. 2005-11-08. Retrieved 2017-12-24.
  7. ^ Bronx Times-Reporter "Vacca captures major lines" October 28, 2009
  8. ^ "Election 2013 | WNYC". Retrieved 2017-12-24.
  9. ^ "Vacca submits report to Quinn on mayor's school control renewal". Bronx Times. 2009-02-17. Retrieved 2017-12-24.
  10. ^ "New York City Council Committee on Education report: Oversight: Mayoral Control of New York City Schools". New York City Council. 2009-06-04.
  11. ^ "Report: The New York City Council Working Group on Mayoral Control and School Governance" (PDF). Internet Archive. 2009-06-12. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-12-22. Retrieved 2017-12-24. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  12. ^ "Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn's Submission to the Assembly on Education on School Governance". New York City Council. 2009-03-24. Retrieved 2017-12-24.
  13. ^ "City Council's governance group urges more Council authority". Chalkbeat. Retrieved 2017-12-24.
  14. ^ "2009 NYS Assembly Significant Legislation". Retrieved 2017-12-24.
  15. ^ "City Island firehouse stays open despite budget's plan for shutdown". Daily News. 2009-07-01. Retrieved 2015-09-23.
  16. ^ "Bronx Councilman James Vacca Backs 'Move NY' Congestion Pricing Plan". Observer. 2015-03-16. Retrieved 2015-09-23.
  17. ^ Dwyer, Jim (2017-08-24). "Showing the Algorithms Behind New York City Services". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-12-24.
  18. ^ Vacca, James (2017-08-24). "The New York City Council - File #: Int 1696-2017". *. Retrieved 2017-12-24.
  19. ^ "The media today: Algorithms at City Hall". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved 2017-12-24.
  20. ^ Vacca, James (2017-08-25). "@zephoria's work was very helpful as we researched the issues. @katecrawford's was too!". @JamesVacca13. Retrieved 2017-12-24.
  21. ^ Vacca, James (2017-08-25). "@mathbabedotorg's work was definitely a great resource as we developed this legislation!". @JamesVacca13. Retrieved 2017-12-24.
  22. ^ DataMade, NYC Council &. "Introduction 1696-2017 - NYC Councilmatic". NYC Councilmatic. Retrieved 2017-12-24.
  23. ^ New York City Council Committee on Technology hearing, City Hall, New York City, New York, UA, 2017-10-16, retrieved 2017-12-24
  24. ^ "New York City Takes on Algorithmic Discrimination". American Civil Liberties Union. Retrieved 2017-12-24.
  25. ^ Powles, Julia (2017-12-21). "New York City's Bold, Flawed Attempt to Make Algorithms Accountable". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2017-12-24.

External linksEdit