What Council Speaker Adrienne Adams means for real estate

Purported winner would play major role in zoning and other big decisions

Council member Adrienne Adams (Getty)
Council member Adrienne Adams (Getty)

Queens Council member Adrienne Adams has won the race to become City Council speaker, having clinched support from more than 30 incoming members and even the mayor-elect.

Adams’ team on Friday released a list of colleagues who have endorsed her, announcing that she has secured support from a majority of the council. Mayor-elect Eric Adams, who had been pushing Council member Francisco Moya for the post, tweeted Friday that he believes Adrienne Adams is the “best choice to lead our City Council forward, and I believe she has the support to do it.”

Moya subsequently tweeted that he did not have a path to victory and said he would “fully support” Adams.

The official vote will take place next month. Adams will be the Council’s first Black and third female speaker.

“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,” she said in a statement.

The speaker oversees the body’s legislative agenda and the city’s budget process, and can significantly influence land use decisions. The speaker can also stop legislation from coming to a vote, although in theory members can circumvent her.

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Adams, who has represented Jamaica, Rochdale Village, Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park since 2017, seems to have avoided major clashes with the real estate industry during her tenure. She was recently among the Council members who fought for approval of the New York Blood Center on the Upper East Side. The approval was a rare departure from the Council’s tradition of voting according to the wishes of the local member, who opposed the project, and was a win for real estate interests.

In 2019, she initially sponsored a bill that would have capped commissions for rental brokers, but ultimately withdrew her support amid fierce pushback from the industry. She has pushed for an end to the city’s tax lien sale, though she and the Council approved a measure that renewed it for one year.

As co-chair of the Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus, she signed onto a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday calling for a last-minute cancellation of the sale, which took place Friday. And she penned an op-ed calling for the city to end the sale altogether. As speaker, she could pass legislation to do that, although the mayor’s position on the matter could determine its fate.

Adams had secured support from major city unions, including 32BJ SEIU and the city’s largest public sector union, District Council 37. In a statement Friday, the New York City District Council of Carpenters called Adams “a steadfast ally of all working men and women.” The Real Estate Board of New York said it looked forward to Adams stepping into the speaker role.

“We congratulate Council member Adams on this historic achievement and share her goals of supporting a strong and equitable economic recovery, creating good jobs and increasing the production of much-needed housing, including affordable housing,” James Whelan, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, said in a statement. “We are committed to working closely with her and the Council to advance data-driven, results-oriented policies that move the city’s economic recovery forward.”


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