Immediately after winning election to the city council seat formerly held by Christine Quinn, incoming council member Corey Johnson was inundated with requests from local residents and groups and has spent the past several months in a frantic pace of meetings and introductions. When he jumps headfirst into the position this month, he will be as prepared as his constituents will allow, and will be offering them something in a city council representative they haven’t seen in 12 years – someone whose attention, at least for now, isn’t divided between the job at hand and higher ambitions.
While Quinn fought hard for the progressive policies that residents of the Village and lower West Side cared about – LGBT rights, HIV/AIDS funding and treatment, affordable housing – she was also criticized, perhaps unfairly, for her ambition. The task of council speaker is to weigh the needs of every district in order to reach workable compromises, so there were also times when she necessarily had to consider other New Yorkers’ needs perhaps more than the other 50 members of the council ever did. Not burdened by that responsibility, Johnson is in a position to buckle down and fight for what his district cares about most. (On the flip side, of course, a less powerful position within the council means less leverage to get those objectives accomplished.)
Johnson will continue to work on many of the same issues that Quinn championed, and surely will take some pages out of her largely successful book; he’ll also need to start writing his own.
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