Freshman City Council class looks ahead

city hall new york council
The City Council got some new blood in the last election. Credit: Getty Images

Freshman year isn’t supposed to be easy.

For 21 eager new council members, 2014 is an opportunity to set legislative agendas, fight for their districts and — of course — get potholes filled.

“Every day it’s gonna be a new issue,” Staten Island Councilman Steven Matteo said. “It’s about staying on top of it and making sure the agonies in my district are taken care of.”

Matteo and other freshman members said they will work to maintain basic constituent services while pursuing solutions to longterm community and citywide issues, such as income inequality and Superstorm Sandy recovery.

“It’s a balancing act,” Bronx Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson said.

A former transportation union head, Councilman Daneek Miller would like to advocate for workers, but says his district also has more immediate concerns.

“The commute from southeast Queens is one of the city’s longest,” Miller said. Also on the councilman’s plate: severe flooding.

“Forget about basements, you have portions of the district where they get 2 feet of water in the first floor of their home,” he said. 

Members also hope to mend the council itself in their first year. Several have advocated for rules reform, including changes to how discretionary funds are distributed to groups in the city’s 51 districts.

“One of the things I’m concerned about is equalizing this process and putting everyone at the same level, so that districts like mine aren’t short-changed,” Gibson said. 

Matteo, the only incoming Staten Island member and freshman in the council’s Republican minority, has similar concerns.

“It’s about making sure my borough, my district, gets what it needs,” Matteo said.

Brooklyn Councilman Carlos Menchaca said he’s confident that reforms will be fair under new City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. He said he hopes the new council will work to include more input from community organizations.

“We’re hoping everybody’s going to be a partner in this,” Menchaca said.

Members admit there are other difficulties ahead, particularly addressing income inequality in the “Tale of Two Cities” condemned by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Our biggest challenge is going to be helping the economy grow within the confines of the city’s budget,” Upper West Side Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal said.

Ultimately, like any freshman class, members are enthusiastic about the year ahead.

“The excitement is very external,” Menchaca said. When Mark-Viverito was elected speaker last week, council members cheered each other, enthusiastically applauding after the vote.

“I feel like a kid in a toy store,” Rosenthal gushed. “It really is wonderfully overwhelming.”

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter @AnnaESanders



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Preachers rail at NYPD at Eric Garner's funeral

Preacher after preacher stepped up to the pulpit at a sweltering Brooklyn church on Wednesday to express fury at the city's police force during the funeral of Eric Garner, who…

Local

Newark schools probed after claims of race discrimination

The U.S. Department of Education said on Wednesday it was investigating complaints that a plan to reorganize public schools in Newark, New Jersey, discriminates against black students.

National

Dogs are capable of feeling jealousy - U.S.…

By Curtis Skinner(Reuters) - Dogs are a man's best friend, and research released on Wednesday says canines want to keep it that way.Dogs are capable…

Local

G train riders brace for five-week shutdown

G train service will be suspended between Brooklyn and Queens between Friday, July 25, and Tuesday, Sept. 2.

Going Out

Where to go drinking on National Tequila Day…

Thursday is just close enough to the end of the week to make you envision yourself already sunning on a beach towel or lounging by…

Going Out

Things to do in NYC this week: July…

Performing arts A 70’s Summer Night Friday, 6:30 p.m. The Green Building 452 Union St., Gowanus $35, 347-529-6473 Party like it’s summer in the 1970s…

Going Out

5 must-try dishes at Edible Manhattan's Good Beer

Rooting out the exotic amid the New York City bar scene is noble quest. But if you’d like to have it all come to you,…

Books

Art imitates life (almost) in David Shapiro's new…

David Shapiro talks about his book, "You're Not Much Use To Anyone."

NFL

Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.

MLB

Brandon McCarthy finds his calling on Twitter

Yankees starter Brandon McCarthy joined Twitter three year ago for the same reason many people do: to get news quickly.

Sports

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

NFL

Fantasy football: Johnny Manziel could give your running…

Fantasy football: Johnny Manziel could give your running game a boost

Food

Recharge with a post-workout smoothie from Nicky Hilton

Some people can roll out of bed right as their alarm goes off. And that alarm isn’t set for 20 minutes before they have to…

Education

Colleges are increasingly embracing the concept of gender-neutral…

  Northwestern University recently made headlines after announcing that it would be installing two gender-neutral bathrooms in the university's student center. “These are two gender-open…

Career

How to prepare to interview for your dream…

    Congratulations! You landed a job interview at your dream company! A lot of hard work has gone into determining which companies to apply…

Style

The shirtdress is a summer must-have

  We love throwing on our boyfriend’s shirt and a pair of jeans (no matter how much he grumbles that it’s his turn to wear the…