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Two Queens Council Members Declare Victory in Speaker Race in Confusing Kerfuffle

Council speaker candidates Francisco Moya and Adrienne Adams (NYC Council/ John McCarten)

Dec. 15, 2021 By Allie Griffin

The next City Council speaker will apparently be from Queens, but the question as to who it will be remains a mystery as two Queens members declared victory Tuesday in a confusing kerfuffle played out over social media.

Both Council Member Francisco Moya and Council Member Adrienne Adams said they had secured the backing of a majority of the incoming council members to become the next speaker.

Adams, who represents Jamaica, Rochdale Village, Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park, first announced Tuesday that she had enough support to win.

“Today is a historic day for New York City,” Adams said in a statement. “After much discussion and collaboration with my colleagues, I am honored to have received the necessary votes to become the next Speaker of the New York City Council.”

About an hour later, however, Moya said he, in fact, had captured the backing from enough colleagues to ensure his victory.

“I am humbled to announce that our diverse coalition of Council Members and leaders from across New York City has collected a majority of votes to elect the next speaker of the Council,” Moya, who represents Corona, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, and LeFrak City, wrote in a tweet. “I look forward to leading this body into a brighter future for our great city.”

The speaker race, however, won’t officially be determined until the beginning of next year after incoming council members are sworn in. The full 51-member council will hold a vote during its first stated meeting in early January.

Neither Moya or Adams have provided the names of the members who they say plan to vote for them. When questioned how they counted a majority, each candidate’s spokesperson referred the Queens Post to their original statements or tweets.

Adams has confirmed at least four votes — from former opponents who have dropped out of the speaker race. Council Members Justin Brannan, Diana Ayala and Keith Powers along with Council Member-elect Gale Brewer have announced their support for Adams after leaving the race.

Meanwhile, Manhattan Council Member Carlina Rivera, another speaker candidate, is still running for the position.

A handful of incoming council members have publicly said that they will back a woman of color to lead the council and are urging their colleagues to do the same.

Council Member Tiffany Cabán and Council Members-elect Jennifer Gutiérrez, Alexa Avilés, Shahana Hanif and Sandy Nurse penned an open letter to current and future members last week asking them to vote for a woman of color for speaker.

“…We, the undersigned, are encouraging you, our colleagues, to disrupt the longstanding Boys Club model of politics by working to ensure our next Speaker is a woman of color who is responsive to the needs of poor and working class New Yorkers,” they wrote in the Dec. 10 letter.

Though they didn’t name a specific candidate, both Adams and Rivera are women of color.

The race, however, may well become a battle of the Adams.

Mayor-elect Eric Adams — who is of no relation to Council Member Adams — has reportedly been pushing for Moya behind the scenes. He and his team have been making calls and meeting with union leadership to ask council members to vote for Moya, according to news reports.

The winner of the speaker race will take over the position from current Speaker Corey Johnson, who is term-limited. If Adrienne Adams wins enough votes, she will become the city’s first Black Council speaker.

The City Council speaker is the leader of the council and has a number of additional duties like finalizing the city budget, setting agenda priorities, managing Council staff and securing votes for various bills and land use applications.

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