Brooklyn lawmakers take part in council speaker forum

Cornegy, Williams among 8 candidates to succeed Mark-Viverito

December 11, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Councimember Jumaane Williams. Photo courtesy of Williams' office

Two Brooklyn lawmakers in the running to become the next City Council speaker were among the candidates taking part in a forum at Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College, where they were peppered with questions on a variety of topics.

Councilmembers Robert Cornegy Jr. (D-Bedford-Stuyvesant) and Jumaane Williams (D-Flatbush) joined their council colleagues Mark Levine, Corey Johnson, Jimmy Van Bramer, Ydanis Rodriguez and Donovan Richards at the New York City Council Speaker Candidate Forum on Dec. 7.

Laura Nahmias of Politico and Shatia Burks of the New York City Young Women’s Initiative served as the moderators of the forum.

Nahmias and Burks asked the candidates questions on issues like health care, immigration, New York’s status as a sanctuary city, education, the economy, the city budget, workforce development and criminal justice. 

Eight Councilmembers, including the seven who took part in the Roosevelt Institute forum last week as well as Councilmember Richie Torres, are in the running to succeed Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who is term-limited and cannot run for re-election to her Council seat. 

Cornegy is the chairman of the Council’s Committee on Small Business. Williams serves as the chairman of the Housing Committee. 

There was a great deal of discussion centering on women’s issues at the forum.

“As the number of women who serve in the City Council has fallen, it’s paramount that the challenges facing women are a priority for our future speaker,” said Sonia Ossorio, president of the National Organization for Women – New York City. 

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Abortion and other reproductive rights were also a big part of the forum, according to the organizers.

“New York is the most diverse, welcoming city in the world,” said Andrea Miller, president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health. “Our next City Council speaker must uphold the legacy of their predecessor and ensure that all New Yorkers are afforded the right to accessible reproductive health care, including abortion and that they can access the care they need free from fear, intimidation and violence.”

The forum was presented by the following organizations: Girls for Gender Equity, Women of Color for Progress, Brooklyn Movement Center, The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, PowHer NY, Planned Parenthood of New York City, National Organization for Women-NYC, New Leaders Council – NYC Chapter, National Institute for Reproductive Health, The Brotherhood/Sister Sol, Campaign for Black Male Achievement, Citizens’ Committee for Children, Eleanor’s Legacy and National Association of Social Workers – NYC Chapter. 

Jennifer March, executive director of the Citizens’ Committee for Children, said the next Council speaker will play a critical role in ensuring the rights of transgender young people. 

“Given the threats from Washington, the current inequality in salaries, wages, access to health care, rates of family homelessness and educational outcomes, the speaker’s leadership will be critical,” March said. 

“The next City Council speaker plays a critical role in ensuring the health and well-being of all New Yorkers,” said Laura McQuade, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of New York City. “At a time when our communities are under constant attack, our next City Council speaker must prioritize fighting discrimination and inequity in all its forms, and must ensure that NYC is a model for the rest of the country when it comes to how we treat women and non-binary New Yorkers — particularly those of color.”

The next Council speaker will be elected by Council members in early January.


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