New York City

Progressive groups say GOP members shouldn’t choose the NYC Council speaker

The new five member Republican caucus is expected to be influential in the vote – and possibly decisive. Ten organizations want to prevent that.

New York City Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli is an outspoken supporter of former President Donald Trump.

New York City Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli is an outspoken supporter of former President Donald Trump. John McCarten/New York City Council

A group of ten progressive organizations is reaching out to New York City Council speaker candidates, asking them to publicly reject the support of the Republican minority in trying to secure the speakership. 

 “We write to articulate our strong belief that the Speaker of the City Council should be determined solely by the Democratic members of the City Council—not by Trump-aligned Republicans,” wrote Daniel Altschuler, co-executive director of Make the Road Action. “We urge every Speaker candidate to publicly commit to rejecting alliance and support from the Republican caucus to achieve the majority needed to secure this leadership post.”

Organizations signing include Make the Road Action, Jews for Racial & Economic Justice and New York Communities for Change, all of which endorsed progressive candidates in this year’s elections.

While there are only five Republicans in the incoming 51-member New York City Council class, they’re expected to have some influence in choosing the next speaker, as a unified bloc of votes that might even include conservative Democrats such as Queens Council Member Bob Holden and Brooklyn Council Member Kalman Yeger. Both Holden and Yeger won more votes on the Republican party line in November than on the Democratic party line. 

Speaker candidates probably won’t be eager to forfeit a group of voters, no matter how much they may disagree. All the speaker contenders are Democrats, while New York City Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli is an outspoken supporter of former President Donald Trump. Republican Council Member-elect Vickie Paladino has reportedly declined to get a COVID-19 vaccine on ideological grounds. But unlike in Congress, the council’s always small Republican minority has not just joined in the floor vote for Democratic speakers but also have been part of their behind-the-scenes coalitions counting votes. For just one example, former Speaker Peter Vallone secured victory in 1986 with the backing of the body’s lone Republican, former Council Member Susan Molinari. This year, in the still wide-open race with seven serious contenders, any one bloc of votes could be a decisive factor.  

But Altschuler told City & State that a number of progressives were worried about the way Republicans were positioning themselves as key to a deal. “And were frankly offended by the idea that a small, marginal, extremist caucus should play a role in determining the speaker of what is an overwhelmingly Democratic body,” he said. Altschuler hasn’t endorsed any one speaker candidate, and doesn’t think any of the organizations signing the letter have either.

Republican Council Member Joe Borelli dismissed the letter. “These are groups who purport to support access to voting, and yet here they're trying to disenfranchise 875,000 New Yorkers who are represented by Republicans,” Borelli said of the groups that signed onto the letter. 

Borelli also predicted the letter would not keep speaker candidates from trying to win the support of the Republican conference, noting that several speaker candidates shared the letter with him, though he declined to name which ones. No speaker candidates that he’s aware of have stopped taking his calls because of the letter, Borelli said. 

Council Member Keith Powers, one of the candidates running for speaker, said he does not plan to reject any member’s support. “I want all 51 votes,” Powers told City & State. “I recognize that we have some policy differences when it comes to the Republicans and all the speaker candidates. But at the end of the day, this is a democratic process. It should include every member, regardless of where you live geographically or what your party label is.”

Correction: This story originally conflated the organizing and nonprofit arms of Make the Road.

NEXT STORY: NYC Council speaker candidates say enough forums

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.