Freshman Councilmember Kristin Richardson Jordan has decided not to run for reelection, leaving her Harlem seat in District 9 up for grabs in a highly scrutinized City Council race.
Jordan was sworn into office on December 29, 2021, and is just short of a year and five months into her two-year term. She made the announcement via Instagram on Tuesday, May 16, about a month before the June primary.
She had raised $78,128 in public funds and $22,213 in private campaign funds.
“As always, whether in a seat or not in a seat,” Jordan posted, “I am here and look forward to continuing to fight alongside you for community care, economic justice, abolition, liberation, and radical societal change.”
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, but raised in Harlem, Jordan is a third-generation Harlemite and the daughter of two Harlem Hospital physicians, according to her bio. A self-described socialist, she is a staunch teacher and activist. Still, she apparently has had a hard time transitioning into the “political wheeling and dealing” in the City Council.
Early in her term, she opposed a major real estate development on West 145th Street and got into a public feud with developer Bruce Teitelbaum. The move garnered praise from some for her stance on housing, but outright hatred from others. She also received a maelstrom of criticism for her views toward police after a shooting took place back in January 2022.
As the election began to ramp up, Jordan turned down questions about her campaign. In the past, she had told Amsterdam News that was because she preferred to remain focused on the work on the ground.
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However, a pattern of missing meetings, not being social with established political clubs and other electeds, and even turning down a candidate debate with her competitors two weeks ago, grew into a harrowing narrative that the councilmember was actively shirking her duties. This culminated on May 5, when an anonymous nonpartisan truck ad appeared parked on 145th Street with Jordan’s face framed like a missing poster. None of the candidates in the race or Teitelbaum claim responsibility for the truck.
Jordan beat a hasty retreat from the media onslaught soon after. She adamantly told Amsterdam News last week outside a rally for Jordan Neely, a Black homeless man choked to death on the subway, that she no longer trusted reporters and offered “no comment” about the City Council race or the truck. At that time, she also refused to confirm whether she was running for reelection.
Major candidates left in the race are Assemblymember Inez Dickens, Assemblymember Al Taylor, and activist Yusef Salaam.
In response to Jordan not seeking reelection, Dickens thanked Jordan for her service. Dickens was most recently endorsed by NAACP NY State Conference President Hazel Dukes and a slew of other electeds from Harlem.
“I applaud the political participation of all women of color,” Dickens posted. “I started my own political journey as a local organizer and worked my way up to [the] state legislature, and if there is one thing I have learned, it is this: We need more women of color in rooms where decisions about our lives are being made.”
Taylor has had strong backing from the Carpenters Union, and was endorsed early on Senator Cordell Cleare, former 32BJ SEIU President Kyle Bragg, and Assemblymember Eddie Gibbs.
“I give my deep regards to the councilmember for what must have been a difficult and somber decision,” said Taylor in a statement. “We run for office because we have a passion and conviction for making things better for our neighbors and communities. I respect her decision and I wish her only the best in the next chapter of her life.”
Salaam said that public service is “one of the highest callings” and similarly thanked Jordan for her service and commitment to the Harlem community. Salaam has been endorsed by activist and author Cornel West, District Leader Paula Diamond Román, and former Assembly Member Keith L.T. Wright, among others.
In a twist of fate, the former council member whom Jordan unseated to get into office, 74-year-old Bill Perkins, died the same morning that she announced she was dropping out of the race. Perkins had been battling an illness and dementia for a long time, but that is not yet confirmed to be his cause of death, said his family’s rep.
“My condolences to his family and loved ones,” said Jordan via text about Perkins’s passing.
Jordan did not add further comment about not running in the City Council race. Her staff confirmed that she is not resigning from office at this time. Her name will still technically be on the ballot on June 27.
Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about politics 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 https://bit.ly/amnews1.
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