As the city's Charter Revision Commission prepares to decide this week whether to put non-partisan elections before voters this fall, the Reverend Al Sharpton held a news conference Saturday to speak out against the idea.
Several community leaders joined Sharpton in blasting a proposal to abolish party primaries, which would allow anyone to run for city office in an open election.
The top two finishers would then meet in the general election.
Supporters of the change, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, say the current system is unfair, because it locks out independent voters.
Only registered Democrats or Republicans can vote in the city's primary elections.
Opponents say doing away with party primaries will only give the wealthy more influence.
"Say no to non-partisan elections because the system we have now has allowed working people and middle-class people to run for office and represent us successfully and create change in this city,” said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. “Because they did it by appealing to the voters and organizing people, not because they had the most money in their pocket."
"Anybody can register as a Democrat and participate in the Democratic Party primary,” said City Comptroller John Liu. “The reason why the Democratic nominee almost always wins in New York City is because that nominee has the same kind of thinking and vision as the vast majority of New York City."
A similar proposal to establish non-partisan primaries was defeated by voters in 2003.