For lawmakers who fall short when it comes to passing legislation, a common defense is that they make up for it by providing great constituent services for their community.
As part of our ranking of the members of the New York City Council, we decided to find out for ourselves.
To assess responsiveness to constituent concerns, we sent an anonymous email to every member with a simple question, albeit one that the City Council doesn’t directly deal with: Could you provide any information on how to sign up for Medicare?
Some lawmakers – like outgoing Councilman James Vacca, who was the quickest – responded within minutes. Around half didn’t respond at all.
While we ranked all the council members based on how quickly they replied, speed is only part of the equation. In a few cases, we received an immediate auto-reply with contact information for office staffers. These we counted as better than no reply at all, but we ranked them after all of the actual, individualized replies.
Some replies were functionally the same as an auto-reply. Vacca, who responded within two minutes, advised us to call his office the next day and speak to a specific staffer. Council members Chaim Deutsch and Steven Matteo sent similar follow-up emails.
A few others requested that we first verify our status as a local constituent.
“Unfortunately, my office receives thousands of emails per week,” read a message from New York City Councilman David Greenfield’s office. “While we review each one, we do prioritize those who live in my council district. If you believe that you live in my district, PLEASE reply to this email with your phone number so that we can prioritize your issue. Your email has already be assigned to an expert staff member from my office who will call you back within 24 hours to personally discuss your issue.”
The first council member to write back with an answer was City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, whose deputy chief of staff provided a link to enroll online and a phone number for Social Security, while also noting the option of signing up in person at the local Social Security office.
An adviser to City Councilman Dan Garodnick also wrote back promptly with a contact number. While noting that Medicare is not under the city’s jurisdiction, the adviser took the opportunity to note that Garodnick had sponsored the Medicare Rights Center, which could help answer questions.
Similarly, we came up with a test to see how quickly each member would respond to a press inquiry: a request to submit the elected official’s latest headshot to update our photo archive. The responses to this request came more quickly, with Ydanis Rodriguez topping the list, but 11 members still failed to reply.
Below is the ranking of the New York City Council members – excluding Bill Perkins, who took office too recently to be included in our rankings, and including Ruben Wills, who has since been expelled from the City Council – based on constituent response, with the ranking based on communications response listed beside them.
|Name||Constituent response||Communications response|
|David Greenfield||4||Last (tie)|
|Laurie Cumbo||12||Last (tie)|
|Annabel Palma||13||Last (tie)|
|I. Daneek Miller||21||35|
|Jimmy Van Bramer||24||Last (tie)|
|Antonio Reynoso||25 (tie)||Last (tie)|
|Inez Barron||25 (tie)||Last (tie)|
|Margaret Chin||Last (tie)||37|
|Corey Johnson||Last (tie)||Last (tie)|
|Ydanis Rodriguez||Last (tie)||1|
|Andy King||Last (tie)||26|
|Fernando Cabrera||Last (tie)||15|
|Ritchie Torres||Last (tie)||20|
|Vanessa Gibson||Last (tie)||22|
|Rafael Salamanca Jr.||Last (tie)||34|
|Paul Vallone||Last (tie)||8|
|Peter Koo||Last (tie)||32|
|Julissa Ferreras-Copeland||Last (tie)||Last (tie)|
|Costa Constantinides||Last (tie)||24|
|Rory Lancman||Last (tie)||6|
|Daniel Dromm||Last (tie)||29|
|Ruben Wills||Last (tie)||Last (tie)|
|Karen Koslowitz||Last (tie)||13|
|Donovan Richards||Last (tie)||Last (tie)|
|Stephen Levin||Last (tie)||Last (tie)|
|Robert Cornegy Jr.||Last (tie)||19|
|Rafael Espinal Jr.||Last (tie)||28|
|Carlos Menchaca||Last (tie)||31|
|Darlene Mealy||Last (tie)||38|
|Mark Treyger||Last (tie)||39|
|Deborah Rose||Last (tie)||23|