Cornegy concedes, but rumble rumored ahead of speaker vote

William Alatriste/New York City Council
New York City Councilman Robert Cornegy

Cornegy concedes, but rumble rumored ahead of speaker vote

Robert Cornegy concedes, but rumble rumored ahead of speaker vote
January 2, 2018

New York City Councilman Robert Cornegy conceded in the speaker’s race to presumptive speaker Corey Johnson on Friday, but the other two remaining candidates in the race aren’t expected to go down without a fight. 

Johnson is expected to be elected speaker of the New York City Council by his peers at the first meeting of the year at City Hall on Wednesday.

Brooklyn City Councilman Jumaane Williams is the last of the other seven original candidates to stay in the race. Williams, who is black, has shared his discontent with the racial politics at play in the speaker’s race. Johnson, like New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, is white.

“We live in a majority non-white city,” Williams explained a Dec. 22 phone call with reporters. “The leadership of this city doesn’t reflect that.”

Williams explained that he was not just staying in the race for himself, but for “our black and Latino young people who are looking for people in positions of power.”

A source close to Williams said that Rep. Joe Crowley, who holds great power in the speaker’s race in his position of Queens County Democratic leader, was not happy with Williams for making a stink. The source suggested that Williams is planning some sort of action at the meeting on Wednesday. A request for comment from Williams was not immediately returned.

While Williams has been vying for the position for months, Brooklyn City Councilwoman Inez Barron entered the speaker’s race last week as an eleventh-hour protest.

Barron told City & State on Tuesday that she will nominate herself for speaker at the meeting and make a presentation. “It’s going to focus on why it is that we need a black speaker and give some historical perspective as well,” she said.

Barron also plans to hold a press conference on the City Hall steps ahead of the vote.

Barron said she had not coordinated with Williams. “Last I spoke to him, he was not committing to (staying in the race until) the charter meeting, which is why I put my name in as a candidate,” she said. “None of the black candidates would commit and say I’m going to be the person to nominate myself or be nominated at the charter.”

Fellow Brooklynite Cornegy had initially kept his name in the race, even after other candidates conceded and Johnson’s ascension appeared inevitable, but Cornegy effectively conceded to Johnson in a Dec. 29 tweet. Asked for comment, Cornegy’s campaign responded that the tweet speaks for itself. 

Johnson declined to comment on Wednesday's vote. But in a Monday interview with NY1, Johnson said he would not declare victory until the vote actually happens.

“I feel good about the support I’ve received from folks who are running for speaker and from nearly every member of the body,” he said. “I am a superstitious person and I also want to be respectful to all my colleagues, some of whom are still trying to sort out how they fit into this process.”

This post has been updated with comments from Barron.

Jeff Coltin
is a staff reporter at City & State. He covers New York City Hall.