In 2018 Corey Johnson was elected by his peers to serve as Speaker of the New York City Council. This followed his re-election in 2017 to represent Council District 3, which includes the neighborhoods of Greenwich Village, Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, Flatiron, West SoHo, Hudson Square, the Meatpacking District, Columbus Circle, Times Square, the Theater District, the Garment District and part of the Upper West Side.
Raised in a union household where his mother, a homeless services provider, and his father, a Teamster, instilled in him the values of community service and political engagement, Corey came to national attention in 1999 when, as the captain of his high school football team, he took the courageous step of coming out publicly as gay. Corey’s actions landed him on the front page of the New York Times and he began telling his story to audiences of young people across the country. He moved to New York City at 19 and entered public service as an activist, first for LGBTQ causes and then expanding to issues like tenant advocacy. He went on to serve as chairperson of Manhattan’s Community Board 4, becoming the youngest person to chair a community board in the five boroughs.
Corey has earned a reputation as a tenacious advocate for all New Yorkers and as a leader who builds consensus at City Hall. In his first year as Speaker he lead the council in passing 165 of pieces of legislation, making 2018 one of the most active and productive starts to a Council session in recent memory. Under Corey’s leadership the Council passed some of the strictest sexual harassment prevention legislation in the country, expanded services for homeless and runaway youth, took serious steps to address pay inequity across racial and gender lines, introduced legislation to protect tenants and make New York City more affordable for all, passed regulations for the for-hire vehicle industry, and secured funding for Fair Fares, a program that would provide half price metro-cards to low-income New Yorkers, all while increasing the City’s financial reserves.
In 2019, the Council continued its work to improve the lives of New Yorkers and plan responsibly for our City’s future. Last Year Speaker Johnson shepherded the passage of the Climate Mobilization Act, one of the most ambitious and innovative legislative initiatives any major city has ever considered to combat the existential threat of climate change. Under his guidance, the Council also passed bills that crack down on placard abuse, strengthen the city’s lead testing and reporting requirements, and help small businesses. Other big achievements in 2019 included legislation that makes Hart Island, the city’s public burial ground, more accessible to the families of those buried there; the Streets Master Plan, which is designed to revolutionize the city’s streetscape; and the bill to close Rikers Island and replace it with a more humane justice system.
In Council District 3, Corey has brought people together to achieve many long-sought community goals, including the creation of the first new public park in East Chelsea in decades, the creation and preservation of thousands of units of affordable housing and the saving of Hartley House, a 121-year-old community services center.
Also In 2019, following the election of then-Public Advocate Letitia James to Attorney General, Corey also assumed the role of acting Public Advocate. As Acting Public Advocate Corey launched two citywide transit surveys to hear directly from straphangers about the state of the City’s subways and buses, oversaw the creation of a city-wide evictions tracking map, launched a digital school explorer to help parents navigate the elementary school system, and conducted oversight of the 311 system.
Corey believes elected officials should always be fighting to do the most good for the people who need it most, and will never stop working to make life better for all New Yorkers.