Adrienne Adams, a New York City Councilmember representing parts of southeast Queens, appears to have locked up the race for council speaker on Friday, after her remaining opponent, Francisco Moya, conceded.
Adams, 61, will become the first Black council speaker and only the third woman in the role. She will also preside over the first-ever female majority in the city's legislative body.
“I am honored to have earned the support and the trust of my colleagues to be their Speaker,” Adams said in a press release issued by a coalition of labor unions backing her candidacy. “We are ready to come together to solve the enormous challenges we face in order to not just recover from Covid but to build a better, fairer City that works for everyone.”
Shortly after the press release, Moya released a statement on Twitter to concede.
The news capped a frenzied week of behind-the-scenes jockeying for the city’s second most powerful position. The speaker wields enormous influence over the council by controlling the flow of legislation and which bills make it to the floor. While the mayor has significantly more power than the speaker under the City Charter, the council has final say on the city budget as well as most land-use decisions — decisions at the center of some of the city's biggest political battles.
The win for Councilmember Adams marks a blow to Mayor-elect Eric Adams, who, along with his advisers, had privately lobbied to anoint Moya, also a Councilmember from Queens, but who was considered unpopular among his colleagues. Councilmember Adams, once officially elected to the post, succeeds current Speaker Corey Johnson who is term limited.
The official vote will take place when the City Council convenes next month. But the mayor-elect already saw the writing on the wall.
On Friday, he offered his congratulations on Twitter to Adams. The two are not related though they are well-acquainted: Both grew up in southeast Queens and even attended high school together.
“After weeks of hearing from incoming Council Members and leaders I trust across New York, I am convinced that Adrienne Adams will be the best choice to lead our City Council forward, and I believe she has the support to do it,” he said.
The coalition of labor unions who backed her candidacy includes District Council 37, the city’s largest municipal employee union, and 32BJ SEIU, which represents building service workers, the Communications Workers of America District 1 and the New York State Nurses Association.
According to the release, 33 of the 51 council members are poised to vote for her next month. Of those members, 31 included statements of support.
Although she was not a leading contender at the start of the race, Adams cobbled together a coalition of support ranging from labor to incoming members poised to be sworn in next month, particularly among the progressive bloc, as well as other delegations within the body.
“She’s speaking for everyone with the input of everyone. She’s very collaborative and she’s shown she can bring people together,” Councilmember Eric Dinowitz of the Bronx said in an interview with Gothamist/WNYC in support of Adams. “She doesn’t speak for us, she speaks with us.”
The only holdout of the Bronx delegation was Councilmember Oswald Feliz, who had expressed support for Moya.
Progressives are also claiming credit for Adams’ victory, noting that they pledged to work together with labor to engage in the selection process.
“What I am deeply, deeply proud of is that throughout this entire process we stood together on it, especially at the juncture at which the Mayor-elect had clearly decided he was going to get involved, make his candidate known, put his thumb on the scale,” said Councilmember Tiffany Cabán , a far-left newcomer to the Council who will represent the 22nd District in Queens. “We stood really strong in our values and vision to make sure that we weren’t in a situation where we were just rubber-stamping the mayor’s priorities."
The shift toward Adrienne Adams began publicly on Tuesday, when four of the seven speaker candidates — Diana Ayala of East Harlem, Justin Brannan of southern Brooklyn, Gale Brewer of the Upper West Side, and Keith Powers of the Upper East Side — bowed out of the race and threw their support to Adams.
On Friday morning, Manhattan Councilmember Carlina Rivera announced that she was dropping out as well and endorsing Adams.
Reporters were already bracing for the prospect of the city’s two most important political leaders sharing the same last name. During an unrelated press conference on Thursday, Mayor-elect Adams was asked whether he could live with another elected leader in the city with the same last name.
“Since I have a bald head, you know who I am,” he cracked.
The article has been updated to accurately reflect Adrienne Adams' age.