Franklin Delano Roosevelt launched the New Deal. Andrew Cuomo closed a $10 billion shortfall and passed an on-time budget. Bill de Blasio rolled out universal pre-K. As a politician, the first act out the gate should be a scene-stealer. And the eight candidates for New York City Council speaker all know it.
“It’s January. You’ve been voted New York City Council speaker. In one sentence, what is your first act as speaker? ” the candidates were asked during a forum co-sponsored by WNET and City & State that aired on Wednesday evening.
Their answers varied, from the wonkish to the idealistic, and from the broad and general to the specific.
Jimmy Van Bramer: “I would make sure that we have a leadership team that is well represented in terms of people of color, and making sure that we have an equal amount of women as men.”
Donovan Richards: “I’ll say property tax reform would be my number one.”
Corey Johnson: “Empower every single member of the council, have a diverse leadership slate, and use our charter-mandated responsibilities to fight on behalf of eight-and-a-half million New Yorkers.”
Jumaane Williams: “Over the past few months, I’ve had wonderful conversations with my colleagues. My first act would be to have those conversations again, now that I’m actually in the position, see what their priorities are, what we can afford in the body, and also make sure we have diverse voices in leadership.”
Mark Levine: “I’d act to shore up public hospital system, which is on the brink of financial collapse thanks to threats from the Trump administration and other challenges, and I’d work to rescue our mom and pop stores, which are facing extinction in a very difficult real estate market.”
Ritchie Torres: “Like Councilman Richards, a resolution for property tax reform. It’s one of the root causes of our affordability crisis, it’s dysfunctional, it’s discriminatory, it’s a bipartisan cause that not only has the support of much of the BLAC (Black, Latino and Asian Caucus) but also the Republican conference in the City Council.”
Ydanis Rodriguez: “First thing that I would do is bring all my colleagues together to the lounge room and talk about how we can build a New York City for all… We’re fighting Donald Trump because he has built a white male cabinet, because he’s been going after women and education. We have to be a role model for the nation.”
Robert Cornegy: “If we could build capacity for every small business to hire one more person, we would decrease unemployment by 50 percent in under five years. I would begin to concentrate on that.”