Despite some initial confusion online, Queens Democratic Council Member Adrienne Adams is poised to become the next New York City Council speaker, and the first Black person and woman to hold the office.

The official city council vote for speaker will not happen until January, but the preliminary polling of voting councilmembers indicates that the field has narrowed. Candidates need at least 26 pledged votes on the 51-member council to become speaker.

Councilmember Francisco Moya and Adams had both claimed majority support on Tuesday, Dec. 14, in a mild Twitter war, but by Friday, Dec. 17, Adams had it in the bag. 

Councilmembers-elect Shaun Abreu, Carmen De La Rosa and Christopher Marte and Councilmember Oswald Feliz endorsed Moya, while former Councilmembers Diana Ayala, Justin Brannan and Keith Powers and Councilmember-elect Gale Brewer, among others, had endorsed Adams, reported City & State.

“Adrienne Adams has the support needed to become NYC Council speaker, and I am proud to stand with her. With the most diverse council yet, a qualified woman of color is the best choice to lead us toward an equitable recovery. Adams will get the job done,” said Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn in a statement.

Adams had a strong backing from labor unions as well. 

The Labor Strong 2021 Coalition, including 32BJ SEIU, DC37, CWA District 1, and NYSNA, said in a joint statement Adams is “hard-working” and  “well-liked,” especially given her work in uniting the council behind a worker-led recovery from COVID-19. “We’re thrilled that her candidacy has galvanized a majority of the council and we look forward to seeing her make history as the next leader of New York City’s legislative body,” said the labor coalition.

Additionally, both incoming Mayor Eric Adams (no relation) and Governor Kathy Hochul tweeted out their support for a woman-led city council. 

However, Adams’ impending victory over Moya wasn’t well received by some members of the city’s Latino community. 

Councilmember Rubén Díaz said that Adams getting elected is a “sign of Black Privilege.” Though his lengthy post had no background or context to explain how in the past 83 years of the city council’s existence, having been established in its current form in 1938 by charter commission, that the first Black person and a woman getting fairly elected to a role held predominantly by white men translates as privilege over other people of color. 

Díaz goes on to list positions of power that “Black Americans” or “African Americans” have throughout the state before stating that both the Democratic Party and the Black community have “used,” “abused,” and “ignored” Latinos in a way that is racist and discriminatory. 

Díaz’s post came out just before Mayor-elect Adams announced on Monday, Dec. 20, the appointment of Councilmember Ydanis Rodríguez, a major supporter of his mayoral campaign and on the transition team, as commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT). Rodríguez will be the first Latino to head the agency.

Ariama C. Long is a Report for America Corps member and writes about culture and politics in New York City for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting:

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