Gale Brewer, author (photo: (Kevin P. Coughlin / Governor’s Office)
As New York City faces the continuing challenges of COVID-19 and new opportunities, the next city council chairman will need to have the experience, relationships and know-how to get the government to work for councilors and their constituents.
Traditionally, the New York City Council has functioned in a top-down decision-making process. As President, I will lead a more member-driven body that allows councilors to vote on their conscience.
I know that from my own experience in the Council, individual members are not always properly supported. That’s the main reason I’m running for president. I want to make sure that council members have more budget to hire skilled staff, are helped with expenses such as renting a district office (with funds separate from the staff budget), and that there are no favorites or unnecessary intrigues with council staff. in matters related to land use, the city budget and bills.
Should you elect me as your President, I will take advantage of the considerable political capital and goodwill that I have earned over decades of public service. I will collaborate using my working relationships with key executives and partners in government, the nonprofit sector and business to position you to succeed in delivering tangible improvements in the lives of your constituents.
As we enter 2022 with an extraordinarily diverse council, the most diverse in history, we need to ensure that all our city delegations, caucus groups and constituencies are represented in the leadership and that they chair key committees. I would consider expanding management and strengthening the role of committees to ensure they are more productive. We need more votes at the table.
My achievements, including eight years as Manhattan Borough President and 12 years on the City Council, have proven that I know how to lead in a collaborative way by being receptive to the ideas and needs of my colleagues, unions, advocates and everyday life. New Yorkers.
This is how we tackled employment discrimination by adopting the Fair Chance Act, how we successfully took big business by winning paid sick leave for hourly wage earners, and how we improved data sharing in government by adopting the Open Data Bill. As city president, I strengthened the Manhattan Community Boards by mirroring the demographics of community boards to the districts, and through training, I professionalized the work of both staff and members. These improvements proved to be significant as my office and Community Boards faced and implemented 200 ULURPs in the last eight years.
There are many good people running for president, but I believe I’m better prepared to get the city government to work more efficiently and with greater benefit for all New Yorkers.
As many of you already know, I am low-key. I’m not looking for the spotlight. I say my opinion, I open my own doors, I carry my own bags, and I order my own coffee – without sugar, with half-and-half. My focus will be an open and responsive speaker who delivers results for the members. I have no plan or intention to use this position as a springboard, and I therefore do not want any hidden agenda in my speech in the kind of decisions we as a body make.
Throughout my career, I have been passionate about cultivating and mentoring the next generation of leaders, including thousands of interns, students at CUNY – where I teach, including current and former employees, some of whom serve or have served at the highest levels of government. If I am elected chairman, I commit myself to only serve in the role for four years, giving colleagues the opportunity to bring their own perspectives to the chairmanship.
I have long believed that a strong, cooperative leadership in the council enables it to work productively with and independently of the mayor. Remember (a treat I would like to tell my students), the Constitution requires municipalities to have a legislative body; not mayor. The Council is supposed to define the policy. The council must be a strong, independent branch of government – an equal branch – but being strong does not mean that the council and the mayor cannot work together.
Policy and budget proposals should be analyzed by the council, and the council should be a supervisory body while cooperating with the administration to better meet the needs of all New Yorkers. That is why I am hopeful and excited to work with my fellow councilors to make New York City, the largest city on this planet, even bigger than before.
Thank you for your leadership and partnership.
Gale A. Brewer
Candidate for President of the New York City Council
Elected councilor (D-6th council district)
27. Manhattan Borough President