New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Press Coverage


Kallos, a lawyer who is now the executive director at the New Roosevelt Initiative focusing on government-transparency projects, told DNAinfo that he hopes to bring his progressive bent to the council. A self-avowed wonk, Kallos has worked on open source and other campaigns to make government more responsive.

He, for instance, would like to see the city’s text message alert system not only send missing person notices, but also send reminders for Election Day.

He envisions using the office not only for passing legislation, but also, perhaps, like Bronx state Senator Gustavo Rivera, for conducting community civics classes.

“I’ve spent all this time asking for elected officials to do all these things,” Kallos, a former Community Board 8 member, said. “At a certain point, you have to put up or shut up,” he said of his rationale to run.


More on Ben Kallos’ run for Jessica Lappin’s seat on the Council.


We’ve been hearing rumors that up-and-coming political consultant Ben Kallos was interested in running for City Council, and he just registered a campaign committee to do so ...


Ben Kallos, who works for Bill Samuels’ New Roosevelt Initiative, is running for the Upper East Side NYC Council seat currently held by Jessica Lappin in 2013.



Benjamin Kallos, an attorney and consultant, said in an interview today that will seek the seat currently held by Democratic Councilwoman Jessica Lappin. Councilwoman Lappin is thought to be running for Manhattan Borough President, where the incumbent, Scott Stringer, is expected to run for Mayor.

Should that set of dominoes fall in place, Mr. Kallos stated he “absolutely” will campaign for the seat and has already opened a 2013 campaign committee for the endeavor.


When Ben Kallos goes to bed each night, he asks himself whether he made the world a better place than it was when he woke up. In between, he tries to meet that lofty standard.



The latest census figures show New York has 4,617,307 residents under 40 years old. Only 40 of them can fit on our annual list of Rising Stars. So what does it take to make the cut?

It helps to have made a difference already. Our list includes people who have run for office and people who are running offices; people who are making policy and people who are shaping the consensus behind it; people who deliver the news and people who make the news; those who raise their voices the loudest and see results.

And it helps to have already made a mark across multiple fields. This year’s Rising Stars may have started as coffee fetchers and junior staffers and campaign aides, but they have risen to become chiefs of staff and foundation directors and key consultants.


Ben Kallos, executive director of New Roosevelt, said the constitutional amendment Martins approved did not go far enough to institute independent redistricting, as Martins’ promised to do when he signed Mayor Ed Koch’s New York Uprising pledge in 2010.

"Under that amendment, we wouldn’t see any redistricting until 2022," Kallos said. "And that redistricting would still allow for a swing of up to 10 percent in population to occur, meaning upstate would gain extra districts compared to Long Island and the rest of the downstate area."

Kallos said it is the hope of those protesting that Martins will get on board with a redistricting law as proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, which would provide for only a 2 percent population swing in any district and could be enacted right away. 


New Roosevelt is funded by momentary lieutenant governor candidate and multimillionaire CEO Bill Samuels, who has reported his funding to the independent expenditure effort as more than $259,000 in loans. Over the course of five months, they have already spent $184,000 on a slew of consultants—Red Horse Strategies, Kallos Consulting, Hudson TG, Sunshine, Sachs and Associates, and others—which a spokesman for the group said were laying the groundwork for a field operation to defeat Espada. 



Samuels is running on a “five pillars of reform” platform (redistricting, member items, outside income etc. – the usual), but insists he’s not a protest candidate and is in the race to win. The one thing he won’t do, however, is fight dirty.

Samuels has hired Ben Kallos (that’s Mr. Open Legislation, to you) to do “research,” stressing that “research” does not mean “oppo,” which he finds “boring.” (Interestingly, Kallos last worked for Mark Green’s 2009 public advocate campaign, during which Green said he swore off oppo, too).


Mr. Kallos has kept himself busy, putting his knowledge of technology and geeky insights to use in local government. The result is a series of Web sites that take local political info out of dusty file cabinets and up online. One site lets people see if they’re registered to vote. Another lets users check the attendance records of state lawmakers. His latest creation: a crowd-sourced calendar for political events around New York City and the state.


Ben Kallos has launched, a social organizing site that lists political events and fundraisers.


Here's a new web site that is intended to serve as a public calendar for all those political events happening around New York.


The New York State Senate's chief information officer team just launched an early version of their Open Legislation Portal today.

Mr. Hoppin and his team will update the site by the end of the month with more information that "has never been seen before on the Internet," according to Mr. Hoppin, thanks to the rules reforms passed by the Senate in June. The data collected, which was previously only available by enacting the Freedom of Information Act, will include detailed transcripts of sessions, committee votes and committee attendance.

As the Observer reported in June, Ben Kallos, former chief of staff to Assemblyman Jonathan Bing who was working on Mark Green's campaign, launched, which allowed users see how each lawmaker voted on a particular piece of legislation and see whether lawmakers  attended their  committee meetings. Mr. Kallos and a few of his colleagues paid for the site out of his own pocket.

The state's moves to make this kind of data more available to the public are ahead of City Hall, where Gale Brewer, chair of the Council's Technology in Government Committee, is leading the open legislation charge.



New Technological Capabilities, Spanning All Aspects of City Services, Will Make City Government More Accessible and Accountable 

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced the Connected City Initiative, a series of technology programs to transform the ways in which New Yorkers can interact with – and expect the delivery of services from – City government. Building upon successful projects that have made New York City a pioneer in using technology to improve public services, the Mayor outlined a series of initiatives to make City government more accessible and accountable. They include providing a new iPhone application for New Yorkers to report issues and send photos to 311 with specific location details using GPS technology – an idea championed by Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and Council Member Gale Brewer; increasing the number of New Yorkers with access to Electronic Health Records; and eliminating many of the bureaucratic barriers to starting a small business. Additional aims include increasing the use of social networking to improve government efficiency; making the City more sustainable by consolidating data centers citywide and promoting the use of electronic mailings; and increasing broadband adoption among low-income New Yorkers. The Mayor made the announcement at the IBM SmarterCities Forum in Manhattan.


“Every day, new technological innovations help make information flow faster, systems work better and our lives a little easier,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “But often, when it comes to adopting new technology, governments lag behind the private sector and even the casual consumer because they are unwilling or unable to try something new and change the way things have always been done. That’s small-minded thinking. In serving the public, government should constantly be looking for new and better ways to provide information and services. The creation of 311 was a major advancement in that effort, but we never stop looking for ways to improve. The programs of the Connected City Initiative represent the latest steps we’re taking to employ technology to serve New Yorkers better.


Ben Kallos

Policy director


Kallos grew up in Manhattan and attended the State University of New York in Buffalo. He majored in psychology and communication and double-minored in philosophy and religion before going straight to law school.


Government transparency is all the rage these days.



Ben Kallos, former chief of staff to Assemblyman Jonathan Bing who is currently working on Mark Green's campaign, is launching a new Web site that allows users to search the attendance records of state lawmakers, making available information that the state isn’t so quick to provide. (Ask folks in the Albany press corps about that.)



“I hope to work on Internet strategy to make sure many New York City citizens can share their ideas and the website can get out to as many people as possible,” Kallos said.

As an attorney, Kallos has a background in information technology, having developed a registered voter database online and assisted the New York County Lawyers Association to improve electronic case filing.

Kallos was recently chief of staff to Assembly Member Jonathan Bing. He left that position to mount a campaign for Council Member Jessica Lappin’s seat when she entertained the idea of running for public advocate.