Brooklyn Boro

PORTAL FOR PUNDITS & POLITICS: Scoops and Insider Insights

Brooklyn's Outsized Role In State and City Governance

November 23, 2021 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
Share this:

Is “Anyone on the stage not from Brooklyn?,” Kathy Hochul recently asked at the annual SOMOS political schmoozefest.

With NY state and city’s political stage and future already cast full of Brooklynites, is there room for another?

Mayor-elect Eric Adams, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, City Comptroller-elect Brad Lander, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams (who threw his hat in the ring for governor), NYS AG Letitia James (who also threw her hat in the governor’s race), and Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzales (who might by vying to replace Tish) all hail from Brooklyn. Even Brooklynite Mayor de Blasio might make a quixotic run for Governor.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

Councilman Justin Brannan. Photo courtesy of Justin Brannan.

As the commercials say, wait, there’s more! The Speaker of the City Council, the second-most powerful pol in the City, is next up for grabs. And Brooklyn Councilmember Justin Brannan, who eked out a narrow win Tuesday against GOP contender Brian Fox, is a favored frontrunner.

Brannan has built a big coalition of labor unions and supported Council colleagues, including giving his endorsement to a dozen Council Members who won the election. The betting market (yes, you can literally bet on the next Speaker), also has Brannan favored to win.

Since the position was created in 1989, 4 out of the 5 recent speakers have been from Manhattan. Just like the shifting geo-political map, the outer boroughs, especially Brooklyn, are narrowing in for control.

Councilmember Brad Lander speaks at a press conference with the Gowanus Neighborhood Coalition for Justice on demands the community has for the potential upcoming rezoning. Photo: Paul Frangipane/Brooklyn Eagle

The Speaker, who excerpts control over the Council’s agenda and serves as a check on power for the Mayor, isn’t in voters’ hands, and there isn’t a ballot. The powerful seat is decided by just 26 votes (a majority of the 51-seat City Council). The official vote will occur in January (although it’s usually chosen in December).

There are seven Democratic candidates —Council Members Adrienne Adams (Queens), Diana Ayala (Manhattan), Justin Brannan (Brooklyn), Francisco Moya (Queens), Keith Powers (Manhattan), Carlina Rivera (Manhattan), and Gale Brewer (Manhattan).

Adams’ role in choosing his next friend (or foe)

Ever since the summer, they all have been jockeying for fellow Council Members’ support, and also for Eric Adams’ blessing – who will likely play a kingmaker role in the race. Although Adams hasn’t commented on the race, would-be-speakers have wined and dined with him to, well, speak about it. Besides being the next Mayor, Adams’ deep political ties to Brooklyn, his union support and relationships to Congressmembers will swing votes for the next Speaker.

DA Eric Gonzalez. Photo: Rob Abruzzese

Changing tides with a new class

The incoming Council class is the most diverse and has a majority of women members for the first time, so there is also a proclivity that two Latina contenders — Rivera & Ayala — should be favored over a white male.

“I tell people that with a woman of color at the helm we can finally address inequitable outcomes for women, particularly women of color and maternal mortality or morbidity. We can fight for better pay and workplace conditions for working class immigrant women,” Rivera has said.

On the other hand, Carlina Rivera, who was a Democratic Socialists of America member, and vowed to defund the police, is at odds with Eric Adams’ pro-business and street safety agenda. It’s even been reported that Adams’ inner camp has tried to dissuade her election.

And Gale Brewer, who has the deepest political ties (having served as City Councilmember for 12 years, then became Manhattan BP, and just won City Council again), recently put in her flyer. Although she’s late to the race, and hasn’t been playing the political game by spending months cozying up to others, she still told City & State, “I think it’s a wide open race.”

This is very much an insiders’ game (and a political pundits’ dream), but it will have a major sway on the City Council, with over half being newcomers. The incoming council members widely vary across the liberal spectrum, and whoever takes the helm will have to wrangle them and play a big part in deciding just how left (or centrist) the Council’s legislation goes.

With so many Brooklynites in power — and more vying for more power — Brooklyn has a colossal role in the Speaker’s race, regardless if another from the borough takes the seat.

FILE – The new Attorney General of New York, Letitia James, smiles during an inauguration ceremony in New York, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019. James formally announced Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, that she is running for governor, a widely anticipated move from the woman who oversaw an investigation into allegations that former Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed numerous women. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment