The New York City Council is the lawmaking body of New York City in the United States. It has 51 members from 51 council districts throughout the five boroughs.

New York City Council
Seal of New York City
Councilmanic Flag
Adrienne Adams (D)
since January 5, 2022
Deputy Speaker
Diana Ayala (D)
since January 5, 2022
Majority Leader
Keith Powers (D)
since January 5, 2022
Minority Leader
Joe Borelli (R)
since November 17, 2021
Majority Whip
Selvena Brooks-Powers (D)
since January 5, 2022
Minority Whip
Inna Vernikov (R)
since January 5, 2022
Political groups
  • Majority (45)
  Democratic (45)
  • Minority (6)
  Republican (6)
CommitteesSee standing committees
First-past-the-post (general elections)
Ranked-choice voting (primary and special elections)
Last election
November 2, 2021
Next election
November 7, 2023
Meeting place
New York City Hall
Official website

The council serves as a check against the mayor in a mayor-council government model, the performance of city agencies land use decisions, and legislating on a variety of other issues. It also has sole responsibility for approving the city budget. Members elected in or after 2010 are limited to two consecutive four-year terms in office but may run again after a four-year respite; however, members elected before 2010 may seek third successive terms.

The head of the city council is called the speaker. The current speaker is Adrienne Adams, a Democrat from the 28th district in Queens. The speaker sets the agenda and presides at city council meetings, and all proposed legislation is submitted through the Speaker's Office. Majority Leader Keith Powers leads the chamber's Democratic majority. Minority Leader Joe Borelli leads the six Republican council members.

As of 2022, the council has 38 standing committees and 4 subcommittees, with oversight of various functions of the city government. Each council member sits on at least three standing, select or subcommittees (listed below).[1] The standing committees meet at least once per month. The speaker of the council, the majority leader, and the minority leader are all ex officio members of every committee.

Council members are elected every four years. The exception is two consecutive two-year terms every twenty years to allow for redistricting after each national census (starting in 2001 and 2003 for the 2000 census and again in 2021 and 2023 for the 2020 census).[2]

Composition edit

An asterisk (*) next to the election year denotes a special election. A double asterisk (**) next to the election year means the member took office after certification to fill the remainder of an unexpired term.

District Member Party Residence Borough Elected Term limited Map
1 Christopher Marte Democratic Lower East Side Manhattan 2021 2029
2 Carlina Rivera Democratic Kips Bay Manhattan 2017 2025
3 Erik Bottcher Democratic Chelsea Manhattan 2021 2029
4 Keith Powers Democratic Murray Hill Manhattan 2017 2025
5 Julie Menin Democratic Upper East Side Manhattan 2021 2029
6 Gale Brewer Democratic Upper West Side Manhattan 2021 2029
7 Shaun Abreu Democratic Manhattan Valley Manhattan 2021 2029
8 Diana Ayala Democratic East Harlem The Bronx
2017 2025
9 Yusef Salaam Democratic Central Harlem Manhattan 2023 2029
10 Carmen De La Rosa Democratic Inwood Manhattan 2021 2029
11 Eric Dinowitz Democratic Riverdale The Bronx 2021* 2029
12 Kevin Riley Democratic Co-Op City The Bronx 2020* 2029
13 Marjorie Velázquez Democratic Eastchester The Bronx 2021 2029
14 Pierina Sanchez Democratic Fordham Heights The Bronx 2021 2029
15 Oswald Feliz Democratic Fordham The Bronx 2021* 2029
16 Althea Stevens Democratic Morrisania The Bronx 2021 2029
17 Rafael Salamanca Democratic Longwood The Bronx 2016* 2025
18 Amanda Farías Democratic Soundview The Bronx 2021 2029
19 Vickie Paladino Republican Whitestone Queens 2021 2029
20 Sandra Ung Democratic Flushing Queens 2021 2029
21 Francisco Moya Democratic Corona Queens 2017 2025
22 Tiffany Cabán Democratic Woodside Queens
The Bronx
2021** 2029
23 Linda Lee Democratic Oakland Gardens Queens 2021 2029
24 James Gennaro Democratic Jamaica Estates Queens 2021* 2029
25 Shekar Krishnan Democratic Jackson Heights Queens 2021 2029
26 Julie Won Democratic Sunnyside Queens 2021 2029
27 Nantasha Williams Democratic Cambria Heights Queens 2021 2029
28 Adrienne Adams Democratic Jamaica Queens 2017* 2025
29 Lynn Schulman Democratic Forest Hills Queens 2021 2029
30 Robert Holden Democratic[a] Middle Village Queens 2017 2025
31 Selvena Brooks-Powers Democratic Rockaway Beach Queens 2021* 2029
32 Joann Ariola Republican Howard Beach Queens 2021 2029
33 Lincoln Restler Democratic Greenpoint Brooklyn 2021 2029
34 Jennifer Gutiérrez Democratic Williamsburg Brooklyn
2021 2029
35 Crystal Hudson Democratic Prospect Heights Brooklyn 2021 2029
36 Chi Ossé Democratic Crown Heights Brooklyn 2021 2029
37 Sandy Nurse Democratic Cypress Hills Brooklyn 2021 2029
38 Alexa Avilés Democratic Sunset Park Brooklyn 2021 2029
39 Shahana Hanif Democratic Kensington Brooklyn 2021 2029
40 Rita Joseph Democratic Flatbush Brooklyn 2021 2029
41 Darlene Mealy Democratic Bedford Stuyvesant Brooklyn 2021 2029
42 Charles Barron Democratic East New York Brooklyn 2021 2029
43 Justin Brannan Democratic Bay Ridge Brooklyn 2017 2025
44 Kalman Yeger Democratic Borough Park Brooklyn 2017 2025
45 Farah Louis Democratic Flatbush Brooklyn 2019* 2029
46 Mercedes Narcisse Democratic Canarsie Brooklyn 2021 2029
47 Ari Kagan Republican Gravesend Brooklyn 2021 2029
48 Inna Vernikov Republican Sheepshead Bay Brooklyn 2021** 2029
49 Kamillah Hanks Democratic Stapleton Staten Island 2021 2029
50 David Carr Republican Grasmere Staten Island 2021** 2029
51 Joe Borelli Republican Annadale Staten Island 2015* 2025
  1. ^ Holden was elected in 2017 on the Republican line, but is a registered Democrat.
Map of Council districts
(2017 est)[3]
Brooklyn 2,648,771 15 13 2
Queens 2,358,582 14 12 2
Manhattan 1,664,727 10 10 0
The Bronx 1,471,160 7 7 0
Staten Island 479,458 3 1 2
Total 8,008,278 51 45 6
Council leaders
Position Name Party Borough
Speaker Adrienne Adams Democratic Queens
Majority Leader Keith Powers Democratic Manhattan
Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala Democratic Bronx
Majority Whip Selvena Brooks-Powers Democratic Queens
Minority Leader Joe Borelli Republican Staten Island
Minority Whip Inna Vernikov Republican Brooklyn

Salary edit

Council Members currently receive $148,500 a year in base salary, which the council increased from $112,500 in early 2016.[4] Members receive no additional compensation for serving as a committee chairperson or other officer under the new salary raise.[citation needed]

Law edit

The New York City Charter is the fundamental law of the government of New York City including the council. The New York City Administrative Code is the codification of the laws promulgated by the council and is composed of 29 titles.[5][6] The regulations promulgated by city agencies pursuant to law are contained in the Rules of the City of New York in 71 titles.[7]

A local law has a status equivalent with a law enacted by the legislature (subject to certain exceptions and restrictions), and is superior to the older forms of municipal legislation such as ordinances, resolutions, rules and regulations.[8] Each local government must designate a newspaper of notice to publish or describe its laws.[9] The secretary of state is responsible for publishing local laws as a supplement to the Laws of New York (the "session laws" of the state), but they have not done so in recent years.[9] The New York City Charter, the New York City Administrative Code, and the Rules of the City of New York are published online by the New York Legal Publishing Corp. under contract with the New York City Law Department.[10]

History edit

The history of the New York City Council can be traced to Dutch Colonial times when New York City was known as New Amsterdam. On February 2, 1653, the town of New Amsterdam, founded on the southern tip of Manhattan Island in 1625, was incorporated as a city under a charter issued by the Dutch West India Company. A Council of Legislators sat as the local lawmaking body and as a court of inferior jurisdiction. During the 18th and 19th centuries the local legislature was called the Common Council and then the Board of Aldermen. In 1898 the amalgamation charter of the City of Greater New York renamed and revamped the council and added a New York City Board of Estimate with certain administrative and financial powers. After a number of changes through the ensuing years, the present Council was born in 1938 under a new charter which instituted the council as the sole legislative body and the New York City Board of Estimate as the chief administrative body. Certain functions of the council, however, remained subject to the approval of the board.

In 1938, a system of proportional representation known as single transferable vote was adopted; a fixed quota of 75,000 votes was set, so that the size of the council fluctuated with voter turnout.[11] The term was extended to four years in 1945 to coincide with the term of the mayor. Proportional representation was abolished in 1947, largely from pressure from Democrats, who played on fears of Communist council members being elected (two already had).[12] It was replaced by a system of electing one Council Member from each New York State Senate district within the city. The Charter also provided for the election of two Council Members-at-large from each of the five boroughs. In June 1983, however, a federal court ruled that the 10 at-large seats violated the United States Constitution's one-person, one-vote mandate.[13]

In 1989, the Supreme Court ruled that the Board of Estimate also violated the one-person, one-vote mandate. In response, the new Charter abolished the Board of Estimate and provided for the redrawing of the council district lines to increase minority representation on the council. It also increased the number of Council Members from 35 to 51. The council was then granted full power over the municipal budget, as well as authority over zoning, land use and franchises. In 1993 the New York City Council voted to rename the position of president of the city council to the Public Advocate. As the presiding officer, the Public Advocate was an ex officio member of all committees in the council, and in that capacity had the right to introduce and co-sponsor legislation.[14] However the city charter revision of 2002 transferred the duties of presiding officer from the Public Advocate to the Council Speaker; the Public Advocate remains a non-voting member of the council.[15]

In 2022, the composition of first female majority City Council[16] included the first Muslim woman, the first South Asian members, and the first openly gay Black woman.[17]

Term limits edit

A two-term limit was imposed on city council members and citywide elected officials in a 1993 referendum. The movement to introduce term limits was led by Ronald Lauder, the heir to the Estée Lauder fortune. In 1996, voters turned down a council proposal to extend term limits. Lauder spent $4 million on the two referendums.

However, in 2008, under pressure from Mayor Michael Bloomberg (who, like many Council members, was facing the end of his two-term limit at that time), the council voted 29–22 to extend the limit to three terms; the council also defeated (by a vote of 22–28, with one abstention) a proposal to submit the issue to public referendum.[18]

Legal challenges to the extension of term limits failed in federal court. The original decision by Judge Charles Sifton of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Long Island, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island) was upheld by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Vermont, Connecticut and New York), and a proposal in the New York State Legislature to override the extension was not passed.[19][20][21]

Voters voted to reinstate the two-term limit law in another referendum in 2010.[22] However, according to The New York Times, incumbent members of the city council who were elected prior to the 2010 referendum "will still be allowed to run for a third term. People in office before 2010 were eligible for three terms."[23]

Presiding officers since 1898 edit

Through several changes in title and duties, this person has been, together with the Mayor and City Comptroller, one of the three municipal officers directly elected by all of the city's voters, and also the person who—when the elected mayor resigns, dies, or otherwise loses the ability to serve—becomes acting mayor until the next special or regular election.[24]

Until 1989, these three officers, together with the five borough presidents, constituted the New York City Board of Estimate. Political campaigns have traditionally tried to balance their candidates for these three offices to appeal as wide a range of the city's political, geographical, social, ethnic and religious constituencies as possible (and, when possible, to both genders).