The new year is a time for reflection and new goals, and as speaker of the New York City Council, Corey Johnson is looking back and planning ahead for both himself and the city as a whole.
2018 was Johnson’s first year as council speaker, and he already highlighted some legislative wins for the body so far, from school zone speed cameras to for-hire vehicle regulations. When asked to grade the first year as New York CIty Council Speaker, Johnson gave it a B+.
“I’m really and truly proud of what we’ve accomplished this year as a Council, from Fair Fares to our Stop Sexual Harassment package to reigning in illegal hotels [and more],” he said in an email. “That said, there is always more work to do in our city, especially when it comes to addressing three separate crises we’re facing: our mass transit system, a devastating lack of affordable housing, and with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)/public housing. So I think a B+ is fair — it acknowledges what we’ve accomplished but will keep us aiming even higher next year.”
Johnson ran on a promise of making the New York City Council independent from the mayor, and has been praised as being more independent than the previous Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito.
“He’s absolutely been more independent [than Mark-Viverito],” City Council Minority Leader Steven Matteo told City & State. “He’s certainly doing a good job of putting the council first.”
Looking ahead to 2019, Johnson plans to pursue that even further.
“For the Council I want us to continue establishing ourselves as an independent and co-equal branch of city government where we take our oversight and legislative authority seriously to try and do the most good for the most New Yorkers,” he said.
On the 2019 agenda, the council will continue to hold Amazon accountable with more HQ2 in Queens hearings, Johnson added, and the body will also fight for NYCHA tenants through its oversight authority and think about innovative ways to address the transit crisis.
Speaker Corey Johnson and the New York City Council at the first Amazon HQ2 oversight hearing. Photo: William Alatriste/New York City Council Flickr
But when it comes to bettering the city as a whole in the new year, it’s not all up to the New York City Council.
“A lot of what New York City needs in 2019 is in Albany’s hands, so it’s important we stake out clearly what the state needs to get done,” Johnson said.
“For me that includes congestion pricing and other ways to fund Andy Byford’s Fast Forward plan, rent reform to protect tenants, voting reforms to make New York a leader in democracy (as opposed to the straggler that we are currently),” he continued, “plus marijuana legalization and decriminalization and using the revenue to help communities harmed by years of unjust enforcement, and possibly to help fund the MTA.”
New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson: 2019 wishlist
– Congestion pricing, congestion pricing, congestion pricing
– People who are eligible to sign up for Fair Fares
– The Trump administration to stop attacking and demonizing immigrants – our diversity is our strength
– Funding for the MTA Fast Forward plan
– House Democrats conducting real, thorough oversight of this embarrassment of a Presidential administration
– Marijuana legalization and decriminalization and using the revenue to help communities harmed by years of unjust enforcement, and possibly to help fund the MTA
– Real rent reform in Albany – we have to protect tenants
– Reproductive Health Act in Albany
– New York Health Act in Albany
– Voting reforms in Albany
– A boyfriend!
– Lady Gaga to visit City Hall
– For people to continue engaging with our democracy – people paying attention and participating in our democracy will get our city, our state, and our country through any challenge. I really believe that.