Photo Courtesy of William Alatriste/NY City Council
“The problems and challenges we continue to face are of historic proportions…but the future of our city depends on our ability to confront them,” Johnson said.
By Michael V. Cusenza
Corey Johnson has been elected City Council Speaker and recently delivered his first speech as head of Gotham’s legislative body.
“Over the last four years, under the leadership of Mayor [Bill] de Blasio, Speaker [Melissa] Mark-Viverito, and the members of this council, our city has made significant progress on a number of critical issues: Free universal Pre-K for every four year old in New York City; historically low crime rates and a dramatic decrease in the truly harmful and corrosive practice known as stop-and-frisk; tens of thousands of new units of affordable housing; a dramatic drop in traffic fatalities; the lowest unemployment rate in decades; paid sick leave and living wage laws that are benefiting working families without killing a single job,” Johnson, 35, noted. “But the problems and challenges we continue to face are of historic proportions.”
Those problems and challenges, Johnson said, start with an affordability crisis “that threaten the very existence” of communities across the five boroughs.
“New Yorkers who have lived in the same community their entire lives now find themselves priced out, unable to afford their rent or even groceries. Many working families are living paycheck to paycheck, one missed shift or one medical expense away from eviction,” said Johnson, who was reelected in November to his second term as councilman representing District 3 in Manhattan.
The new Speaker also pointed to an overflowing shelter system; small businesses unable to compete with deep-pocketed chain stores; the subway crisis; “racial disparities” affecting life expectancy, health outcomes, criminal justice, and education; and the coming fiscal realities presented by Washington and Albany as just some of the issues New York’s elected leaders have been tasked with tackling.
“These problems are incredibly complex and entrenched. But the future of our city depends on our ability to confront them,” Johnson said in remarks in Council Chambers. “And confront them we will.”
Johnson later called on his colleagues to recognize the tremendous influence the Council retains, and to use that deliver opportunities to all New Yorkers.
“Let us continue to take on the important issues that may be considered controversial today, but will be indisputable tomorrow. Let us continue to use the power of this body to expand opportunity for all, to be the voice for the voiceless, the champions of the most vulnerable. Let us continue to be a source of light and love and hope in a turbulent world,” he posited.