Women have chance at majority on Council
For the first time in the history of the City Council, women have the opportunity to hold a majority of the seats.
If all of the June primary winners are victorious in the general election this November, 30 women will hold 51 of the seats in the legislative body.
Last week, some of those winners and their colleagues in government rallied outside City Hall with members of “21 in ’21,” a grassroots advocacy group founded in 2017 with the goal of getting more women elected to the City Council.
If the results stand, the group surpassed its goal by nine seats.
“It is incredible to see this idea finally turn into a reality that has led to a historic moment,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “When women run and have the support around them, women win.”
There are few competitive races later this year, so it is likely most, if not all, of the primary winners will join the City Council on January 1.
Nantasha Williams, Shahana Hanif, and Mercedes Narcisse would claim seats never held by a woman in Jamaica, Cobble Hill and Bedford-Stuyvesant.
The LGBTQ+ Caucus would be bolstered if the primary results hold. Crystal Hudson and Kristin Richardson Jordan would be the first openly gay Black women to serve in the City Council. Tiffany Cabán would be Astoria’s first openly gay representative.
Sandra Ung, a Chinese American from Flushing, won the primary for the seat being vacated by Peter Koo.
And Linda Lee and Julie Won will be the first two Korean-American women in the City Council, while Felicia Singh and Shahana Hanif would be the first two South Asian members.
“Over half of my district’s residents are foreign-born, but I am set to become the first immigrant and the first woman to represent these neighborhoods,” said Won. “As trailblazing elected officials have done before me, I will partner with the rest of the incoming City Council cohort to create a professional pipeline for progressive Asian, Black, and Brown activists to ascend to the highest levels of government and elected office.”
Hanif would also hold the distinction as the first ever Muslim council member.
“I’m excited to forge a model of leadership in coalition with all the women that is deeply committed to enabling and expanding a multiracial, participatory democracy,” said Hanif. “It is past time for the women of our city to be front and center.”
Singh arguably has the strongest challenger in the general election in Queens Republican Party chair Joann Ariola. However, if Singh were to lose, the seat would still go to a woman.
Additionally, the City Council will now have 11 mothers.
In 2017, former speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and former council member Elizabeth Crowley co-founded 21 in ’21. At the time, women held only 11 seats in City Council despite accounting for 52 percent of the city’s population.
They’ve expanded their coalition over time by partnering with 17 different organizations, including Emily’s List and She Will Rise.
“I am enormously proud to have taken the baton and gotten the organization across the finish line,” said Amelia Adams, president of Adams Advisors, a firm focused on government affairs, community relations and political consulting. “With the help of our membership, mentors and candidates, we created a sisterhood that is going to continue in the body of the City Council and beyond.”
Some advocates believe the increase in female representation was a direct result of ranked choice voting, which was used city elections on a large-scale basis for the first time in the June primaries.
“For the first time ever, New York City’s government will actually reflect the diversity of our city, thanks to ranked choice voting,” said Rosemonde Pierre-Louis, COO at NYU’s McSilver Institute. “Ranked choice voting results in more wins for candidates of color and women, and the proof is in the results.”