New York City Council

Last updated

New York City Council
Seal of New York City BW.svg
NYC Councilmanic Flag.png
Corey Johnson, Democratic
since January 2018
Majority Leader
Laurie Cumbo, Democratic
since January 2018
Minority Leader
Steven Matteo, Republican
since July 2015
New York City Council seats.svg
Political groups
  • Majority
   Democratic (48)
  • Minority
   Republican (3)
CommitteesSee Standing Committees
Last election
November 7, 2017
Next election
November 2, 2021
Meeting place
New York City Hall, Manhattan

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

Lawmaking is the process of crafting legislation. In its purest sense, it is the basis of governance. This form of law making is also applied in India. It is a process which works in India on the basis of Indian Constitution. Lawmaking in modern democracies is the work of legislatures, which exist at the local, regional, and national levels and make such laws as are appropriate to their level, and binding over those under their jurisdictions. These bodies are influenced by lobbyists, pressure groups, sometimes partisan considerations, but ultimately by the voters who elected them and to which they are responsible, if the system is working as intended. Even the expenditure of governmental funds is an aspect of lawmaking, as in most jurisdictions the budget is a matter of law.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.


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

Land use total of arrangements, activities, and inputs that people undertake in a certain land cover type

Land use involves the management and modification of natural environment or wilderness into built environment such as settlements and semi-natural habitats such as arable fields, pastures, and managed woods. It also has been defined as "the total of arrangements, activities, and inputs that people undertake in a certain land cover type."

Budget balance sheet or statement of estimated receipts and expenditures

A budget is a financial plan for a defined period, often one year. It may also include planned sales volumes and revenues, resource quantities, costs and expenses, assets, liabilities and cash flows. Companies, governments, families and other organizations use it to express strategic plans of activities or events in measurable terms.

The head of the City Council is called the Speaker. The current Speaker is Corey Johnson, a Democrat. The Speaker sets the agenda and presides at meetings of the City Council. Proposed legislation is submitted through the Speaker's Office. There are 48 Democratic council members led by Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo. The three Republican council members are led by Minority Leader Steven Matteo.

Speaker (politics) presiding officer of a deliberative assembly, especially a legislative body

The speaker of a deliberative assembly, especially a legislative body, is its presiding officer, or the chair. The title was first used in 1377 in England.

Corey Johnson (politician) American politician

Corey Johnson is an American politician from the Democratic Party. He is the Speaker of the New York City Council, and a City Council member for the 3rd District. The district includes Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, the West Village, and parts of Flatiron, SoHo and the Upper West Side in Manhattan. He briefly served as acting New York City Public Advocate in 2019.

Democratic Party (United States) Major political party in the United States

The Democratic Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with its rival, the Republican Party. Tracing its heritage back to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison's Democratic-Republican Party, the modern-day Democratic Party was founded around 1828 by supporters of Andrew Jackson, making it the world's oldest active political party.

The Council has 35 committees with oversight of various functions of the city government. Each council member sits on at least three standing, select or subcommittees (listed below). 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, except for two consecutive two-year terms every twenty years to allow for redistricting between the terms due to the national census (starting in 2001 and 2003 for the 2000 Census and again in 2021 and 2023 for the 2020 Census). [1]

United States Census Decennial census mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution

The United States Census is a decennial census mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution, which states: “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States... according to their respective Numbers.... The actual Enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years”. Section 2 of the 14th Amendment amended Article I, Section 2 to include that the "respective Numbers" of the "several States" will be determined by "counting the whole number of persons in each State... excluding Indians not taxed...” The United States Census Bureau is responsible for the United States Census. The Bureau of the Census is part of the United States Department of Commerce.

2000 United States Census 22nd determined the resident population of the United States on April 1, 2000

The Twenty-second United States Census, known as Census 2000 and conducted by the Census Bureau, determined the resident population of the United States on April 1, 2000, to be 281,421,906, an increase of 13.2% over the 248,709,873 people enumerated during the 1990 Census. This was the twenty-second federal census and was at the time the largest civilly administered peacetime effort in the United States.

2020 United States Census 24th national census of the United States, planned for April 1, 2020

The 2020 United States Census will be the twenty-fourth United States Census. National Census Day, the reference day used for the census, will be April 1, 2020.


DistrictMemberPartyResidenceBoroughElectedTerm limited
1 Margaret Chin Democratic Financial District Manhattan 20092021
2 Carlina Rivera Democratic Lower East Side Manhattan 20172025
3 Corey Johnson Democratic Chelsea Manhattan 20132021
4 Keith Powers Democratic Murray Hill Manhattan 20172025
5 Ben Kallos Democratic Upper East Side Manhattan 20132021
6 Helen Rosenthal Democratic Upper West Side Manhattan 20132021
7 Mark D. Levine Democratic Washington Heights Manhattan 20132021
8 Diana Ayala Democratic East Harlem The Bronx, Manhattan 20172025
9 Bill Perkins Democratic Central Harlem Manhattan 2017*2025
10 Ydanis Rodríguez Democratic Inwood Manhattan 20092021
11 Andrew Cohen Democratic Riverdale The Bronx 20132021
12 Andy King Democratic Wakefield The Bronx 2012*2021
13 Mark Gjonaj Democratic Eastchester The Bronx 20172025
14 Fernando Cabrera Democratic Kingsbridge The Bronx 20092021
15 Ritchie Torres Democratic Bronx Park The Bronx 20132021
16 Vanessa Gibson Democratic Morris Heights The Bronx 20132021
17 Rafael Salamanca Democratic Longwood The Bronx 2016*2025
18 Rubén Díaz Sr. Democratic Parkchester The Bronx 20172025
19 Paul Vallone Democratic Bayside Queens 20132021
20 Peter Koo Democratic Flushing Queens 20092021
21 Francisco Moya Democratic Corona Queens 20172025
22 Costa Constantinides Democratic Astoria Queens 20132021
23 Barry Grodenchik Democratic Hollis Hills Queens 2015*2025
24 Rory Lancman Democratic Fresh Meadows Queens 20132021
25 Danny Dromm Democratic Jackson Heights Queens 20092021
26 Jimmy Van Bramer Democratic Sunnyside Gardens Queens 20092021
27 Daneek Miller Democratic Queens Village Queens 20132021
28 Adrienne Adams Democratic Jamaica Queens 2017*2025
29 Karen Koslowitz Democratic Forest Hills Queens 20092021
30 Robert Holden Democratic [lower-alpha 1] Middle Village Queens 20172025
31 Donovan Richards Democratic Far Rockaway Queens 2013*2021
32 Eric Ulrich Republican Ozone Park Queens 2009*2021
33 Stephen Levin Democratic Greenpoint Brooklyn 20092021
34 Antonio Reynoso Democratic Williamsburg Brooklyn, Queens 20132021
35 Laurie Cumbo Democratic Clinton Hill Brooklyn 20132021
36 Robert Cornegy Democratic Bedford Stuyvesant Brooklyn 20132021
37 Rafael Espinal Democratic Cypress Hills Brooklyn 20132021
38 Carlos Menchaca Democratic Red Hook Brooklyn 20132021
39 Brad Lander Democratic Park Slope Brooklyn 20092021
40 Mathieu Eugene Democratic Flatbush Brooklyn 2007*2021
41 Alicka Ampry-Samuel Democratic Brownsville Brooklyn 20172025
42 Inez Barron Democratic East New York Brooklyn 20132021
43 Justin Brannan Democratic Bay Ridge Brooklyn 20172025
44 Kalman Yeger Democratic Borough Park Brooklyn 20172025
45 Farah Louis Democratic Flatbush Brooklyn 2019*2029
46 Alan Maisel Democratic Canarsie Brooklyn 20132021
47 Mark Treyger Democratic Bensonhurst Brooklyn 20132021
48 Chaim Deutsch Democratic Midwood Brooklyn 20132021
49 Debi Rose Democratic Mariners Harbor Staten Island 20092021
50 Steven Matteo Republican Castleton Corners Staten Island 20132021
51 Joseph Borelli Republican Annadale Staten Island 2015*2025
(2017 est) [2]
Brooklyn 2,648,77116160
Queens 2,358,58214131
Manhattan 1,664,72710100
The Bronx 1,471,160880
Staten Island 479,458312
  1. Councilman Holden was elected in 2017 on the Republican Party line, but is a registered Democrat.
Council leaders
Speaker Corey Johnson Democratic Manhattan
Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo Democratic Brooklyn
Minority Leader Steven Matteo Republican Staten Island


Council Members currently receive $148,500 a year in base salary, which the council increased from $112,500 in early 2016. [3] Members receive no additional compensation for serving as a committee chairperson or other officer under the new salary raise.


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. [4] [5] The regulations promulgated by city agencies pursuant to law are contained in the Rules of the City of New York in 71 titles. [6]

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. [7] Each local government must designate a newspaper of notice to publish or describe its laws. [8] 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. [8] 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. [9]


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.

A system of proportional representation known as Single Transferable Vote seated a 26-member Council in 1938 to serve two-year terms. 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). [10] 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. [11]

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. [12] 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. [13]

Term limits

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, a cosmetics heir. In 1996, voters turned down a Council proposal to extend term limits. Lauder spent $4 million on the two referenda.

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. [14]

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. [15] [16] [17]

Voters voted to reinstate the two-term limit law in another referendum in 2010. [18] 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. The two-term limit will only apply to those elected this year and beyond.” [19]

Membership milestones

Presiding officers since 1898

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. [20]

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).