City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica) wasted no time announcing a few key positions to her leadership team after being sworn in last week to the Big Apple’s second highest position.
Some members of Adams’ leadership team include Councilman Keith Powers (D-Manhattan) as majority leader, Councilwoman Diana Ayala (D-Manhattan, Bronx) as deputy speaker and Councilwoman Selvena Brooks-Powers (D-Laurelton) as majority whip.
“I’m pretty excited,” said Brooks-Powers, who is serving her first full term in the Council. She previously won the seat during a special election in March 2021. “There’s a lot to be done. My district is one that has been devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic. At the start, it was the second-deadliest of the ZIP codes. Up until recently, we were lagging behind resources.”
The 11691 ZIP code was the second-deadliest area for Covid-19, according to the councilwoman in a previous interview with the Queens Chronicle. That area represents the neighborhood of Edgemere in the Far Rockaway peninsula and has a population of 60,035, according to zipcodes.com, which provides demographic data.
As majority whip, Brooks-Powers will be responsible for gathering votes from the Democratic members of the City Council on legislation.
“My No. 1 priority is to make sure that I’m delivering for the 31st Council District,” said Brooks-Powers. “Those are my bosses that sent me to City Hall to advocate on their behalf ... by being the majority whip I get to work with 50 other Council members and discuss legislation that impacts the city, but also come to the table and represent my district in a real way.”
Brooks-Powers is working on a new legislative agenda with her team in the 31st Council District, which represents Arverne, Brookville, Edgemere, Far Rockaway, Laurelton, Rosedale and Springfield Gardens.
“Ever since running for office, I’ve been focusing on equity in my district and what that looks like,” said the majority whip, saying, for example, that under the past administration she was not notified when shelters were opening in the district.
Community Board 13, which is in Brooks-Powers district, and nearby community boards 12 and 14 are saturated with homeless shelters, said the councilwoman.
“At the same time we are not provided with sufficient resources for the population,” said Brooks-Powers. “It impacts the quality of life ... I’ve talked to people in the shelters as far as Far Rockaway and the stories that they told me is unacceptable — about how they have been treated and the resources they have not received.”
The majority whip believes all Council districts should do their part for the most vulnerable across the city.
“In my district, we have a critical need for another hospital,” said Brooks-Powers. “I’m fighting for a hospital with a trauma unit.”
St. John’s Hospital, a state facility in her district in Edgemere, does not have trauma care, said the councilwoman.
“I want to make sure St. John’s operates at the highest level of capacity, but I want to make sure people have sufficient access to health resources,” Brooks-Powers said, adding that there are a number of issues “from Black mortality to sanitation to homelessness that I plan at looking on how to make my district better ... The bills that we had in the past Council will need to be resubmitted in the new Council.”
Brooks-Powers is already talking with new members of the Council to discuss the bills that she plans on resubmitting or co-signing on to and what they would look like.
Last year, she was proud when one of her domestic violence bills was passed along with another domestic violence measure that she signed on to.
“This is an exciting time,” said Brooks-Powers. “We have a new governor, we have a new mayor and we have a new speaker now, along with a host of new members.”
The new Council has more women and minorities than any before.
“We meet here today as the most diverse Council in history, led by the first African American Speaker,” said Adams in a speech at City Hall Jan. 5. “For the first time ever, this legislative body will have a majority of women serving as members ... Representation matters, not just because it will inspire the next generation of women leaders, but also because it will drive how we will govern moving forward.
“That’s why it’s so important we all come from different cultural, geographical, and professional backgrounds. No matter what might have brought our ancestors or immediate family to New York, they all chose this city because it embodies hope. It represents a better life.”
Brooks-Powers is looking forward to working with this new class of councilmembers and working more closely with Adams.
“It’s amazing to see New York City in who represents them,” said the majority whip. “Speaker Adams is from Southeast Queens ... and just knowing who she is, someone who represents a community very similar to mine, I’m really excited to see what she does in this new role.”