‘Four women in a room,’ for a change

Joy WIlliams Melissa Mark-Viverito Stephanie Miner Zephyr Teachout
Joy WIlliams Melissa Mark-Viverito Stephanie Miner Zephyr Teachout
Grace Segers
L. Joy Williams, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Stephanie Miner and Zephyr Teachout discuss women in politics.

‘Four women in a room,’ for a change

Mark-Viverito, Miner, Teachout and Williams talk voting reforms, women in government and DeRosa’s tweet.
May 1, 2018

In Albany, it’s “three men in a room” – or four men – who meet behind the scenes to negotiative the state budget and hash out other big legislative proposals.

In New York City, for one evening, it was “four women in a room.”

Four prominent female progressives gathered at the Cooper Union on Tuesday to discuss the role of women in New York state government for a panel called “Four Women in a Room,”  The panel, moderated by Politico New York reporter Gloria Pazmino, featured former New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, Fordham Law Professor Zephyr Teachout, who previously challenged Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the 2014 primary and is now treasurer for Cynthia Nixon’s insurgent gubernatorial campaign, and political strategist and recent Nixon campaign appointee L. Joy Williams. The event did not include anyone who had served in state government, but did include women less favorably inclined towards Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Here’s a quick recap of the event through a series of tweets by City & State’s Grace Segers.

The title was a play on the much-maligned reference to “three men in a room,” referring to the traditional grouping of the governor, state Senate majority leader and Assembly speaker gathering to negotiate budget policy. In recent years, that slogan has expanded to “four men in a room,” with state Sen. Jeff Klein, leader of the now-defunct Independent Democratic Conference, evening out the number of men making critical policy decisions. The event also, prominently, featured opposition to the IDC, including a table for the activist group No IDC NY, and an appearance from Jessica Ramos, who is challenging former IDC member Jose Peralta in a Democratic state Senate primary.

Pazmino began the event by noting the tweet by Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor, criticizing the panel’s choice of women.

The panelists then called for voting reforms in New York.

The conversation segued to campaign finance, and the difficulties female candidates face.

Mark-Viverito sharply criticized the Independent Democratic Conference, accusing Klein of preventing state Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins from becoming majority leader by allying his breakaway caucus with the state Senate Republicans.

Miner declined to make news regarding a potential primary challenge against Cuomo, an idea she has flirted with in the past.

Mark-Viverito also sidestepped an opportunity to make news after the event herself.

Grace Segers
is City & State’s digital reporter. She writes daily content on New York City and New York state politics.