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Voters will be making crucial decisions three times in the upcoming months

While many insiders think there's just three weeks left until we pick a new mayor, comptroller, public advocate, two borough presidents, a district attorney and a new city council - an unprecedented turnover in our municipal government - it's actually just the second half of a long marathon race that won't conclude until six months from now, in early 2014.

The September 10th primary - which comes just a week after Labor Day, five days after the Jewish New Year and on the second day of school - will only definitively determine our next comptroller, most of the new city council, two new borough presidents and the Brooklyn district attorney.

Yes, the only three things that will be certain on September 11, 2013, will be: death, taxes and whether we've witnessed the incredible resurrection of Eliot Spitzer into New York political life.

On the mayoral front we will simply have eliminated five Democratic contenders (including likely the once high-flying Anthony Weiner) and two Republican candidates.

For three weeks from September 11 to October 1 (the day of the mayoral and likely public advocate run-off), we will see a slugfest between the two semifinalists in the Democratic mayoral marathon.

Right now, unless the topsy turvy campaign takes a really strange turn, there are three likely mayoral runoff possibilities: Christine Quinn v. Bill Thompson, Quinn v. Bill de Blasio or Thompson v. de Blasio.

It's a three-way game of survivor, in other words, with one of these career pols getting knocked off the island.

No matter what, the three weeks after the primary will be a highly-charged time of debates, negative media stories, unions jousting on behalf of their candidates and, hopefully, great voter engagement so that the Democrats pick a truly qualified person to potentially succeed Mike Bloomberg.

Lying in wait will be the GOP nominee, either former MTA head Joe Lhota, or billionaire businessman John Catsimatidis. Spicing up the general election mix will be tech millionaire Jack Hidary and Independence Party candidate Adolfo Carrion.

So, from October 2 until November 5, a five-week period of light fall breezes and pre-Halloween costume-picking, we will be debating the future of our city. Should we continue "proactive policing?" Will there be retroactive raises for our city workers? What can be done to straighten out our public education mess? How will we lift the middle class again in New York?

On November 5, how many people will turn out and vote for our next mayor? We had more than 1.8 million New Yorkers vote in 2001, and it has gone steadily down to just over 1.1 million in 2009. In 2013, will our populace be engaged and energized enough to get a strong turnout in the general election? Will the future of public safety (to some, "stop and frisk" is the key policy) be a decisive factor differentiating the Democratic and Republican candidates and the two third-party contenders?

When the dust settles on November 6 and the new mayor is anointed, there will be one more important leg in this journey - the transition and the selections of key personnel: the police commissioner, the chancellor and the deputy mayors, as well as the agency heads and the commissioners. Will we have another data-driven administration or will it be more "touchy-feely," with a focus on social programs and inequality?

The biggest hurdle of all lies ahead: how to govern a city of 8.2 million and follow in the footsteps of a larger-than-lfe billionaire mayor, who put his indelible stamp on so many areas.

Make an informed choice on September 10, October 1 and November 5.

Your family, your neighborhood, your borough and your whole city is counting on your wise vote.

Tom Allon, president of City and State, NY, is the former Liberal Party-backed candidate for Mayor. Comments? Email

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