Julissa Ferreras Departure Upends City Council, Latino Politics

Council member Julissa Ferreras in her Corona, Queens, office. (Photo by Mariela Lombard via El Diario)

New York’s municipal elections are five months away but the political race for several City Council posts is already heating up after it was announced that Council member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland will not seek re-election. The chair of the Finance Committee was strongly rumored to be the heir of Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who will leave due to term limits. Ferreras-Copeland’s departure also leaves the door open for many politicians who will compete for the District 21 seat.

One of them is current State Assembly member Francisco Moya, who immediately announced his campaign for Ferreras-Copeland’s seat. The woman of Dominican origin was elected to the Council in 2009, and has stood out for her work on behalf of immigrants, women, the LGBTQ community, and fighting corruption.

“From the Council I think I can do even more for our families, and I hope to continue Councilwoman Ferreras-Copeland’s tremendous efforts and fight for the progressive values that define our city,” said Moya. “We know really well how corruption and lack of accountability can harm our community.”

The other candidate who announced his interest in returning to the Council is Hiram Monserrate, who said District 21 is not interested in empty promises. “Our community needs real leadership and real results, and I am confident that I will give my all once again for the common good,” said the politician, who highlighted his work on such issues as the Willets Point deal, which will bring around 2,000 affordable housing units, the law which banned metered parking on Sundays, and confidentiality laws that protected immigrants from divulging their status.

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who was expected by many to pass her post on to Ferreras-Copeland, thanked her for her work on budget negotiations, and on policies and legislation that have made New York a fairer city.

“Julissa has been an exemplary chair of the Finance Committee and a fierce defender of the community and all New Yorkers. I wish all the best to her and her family as she begins this exciting new chapter in her life,” said the Puerto Rican leader, who did not endorse any successor.

After Ferreras-Copeland’s departure, Council members Corey Johnson and Mark Levine, who have expressed their desire to be the speaker, will battle for the post with Ydanis Rodríguez, who will join the list, and who said he understands Council member Ferreras’ decision to leave the post to spend more time with her son and her husband Aaron Copeland, an aerospace engineer who works in Maryland.

“Taking into account my eight years in the City Council and more than 40 years of political activism fighting for issues that matter to New Yorkers, I know that by working alongside my colleagues I can lead this important body,” said Rodríguez.

Ferreras-Copeland’s office mentioned that for now she will not comment on her leaving the Council or which candidates she will endorse.

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