Queens Councilor Adrienne Adams announced on Friday that she was ready to become the next spokeswoman for New York City Council after receiving more than the 26 votes required from her peers to win. Barring any breakaway votes in next month’s internal council elections, Adams will serve as the council’s first black spokesman, contributing to the historic accomplishments of black lawmakers across the city this year.
As a speaker, Adams will serve as the final vote in deciding who will receive coveted committee positions as he sets the legislative agenda that will have a huge impact on millions of New Yorkers. She will also have to negotiate her priorities with those of Mayor-elect Eric Adams, whom she has known for decades (the two have nothing to do with each other).
Her upcoming victory as speaker crowns a historic career run for Adams, 61, who will also preside over the council’s first female majority. As the 28th Council District legislature, Adams is the first woman to represent the district that includes the various boroughs of Jamaica, Richmond Hill, Rochdale Village and South Ozone Park.
Entry into politics
In a November interview with WNYC / Gothamist, Adams recorded her backstory before moving into public service. A graduate of Bayside High School, where the mayor-elect was a classmate, Adams attended Spelman College, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
“I have a strong leadership background,” said Adams in November.
“I definitely consider my experience to be an extreme strength to lead this body into the leadership of the council.”
After college, Adams joined Corporate America, according to their LinkedIn page. She worked primarily in educational positions at MCI Telecommunications, Winstar Communications, InfoHighway Communications, MedSave USA and Goldman Sachs before turning to volunteering for the Queens Community Board 12 in 2009.
“I came to a ward council that was in extreme chaos,” said Adams. “I had to conduct every meeting with discipline and respect.
From 2012 to 2017, she was chairman of the board of directors before winning the race for the 28th council district, a position vacated by then council member Ruben Wills following a corruption scandal. Wills would return to run for his seat in the 2021 primary but was easily defeated by Adams, avoiding an immediate runoff after receiving more than 50% of the vote. Adams won re-election with no votes against.
As a member of the council, Adams promoted more than two dozen bills, 14 of which went into effect. Laws that have been enacted include reforms to the sale of tax liens, approving street renaming, and incorporating the mayor’s office for data analysis into the city charter.
Adams also serves on numerous committees, including service and labor, finance, land use and rules, privileges, and elections. As chairman of the Public Safety Committee, Adams chaired targeted hearings involving members of the NYPD. In October, she held a hearing investigating the NYPD’s Special Victims Division, which was under scrutiny for its poor track record in solving rape cases across the city.
But Adams isn’t one of the city and state legislatures calling for it to be withdrawn. In 2020, amid outrage against the NYPD following demonstrations across the city, Adams voted to keep the NYPD’s budget intact. Her policies largely mirror those of the mayor-elect, who ran on a crime-reducing platform across the city.
At various speaker forums, Adrienne Adams outlined her priorities for speaking, including a stalled plan to legalize basement apartments, expanded free legal services for immigrants, help for financially troubled yellow taxi drivers and Diwali a recognized holiday.
“We will continue to do everything in our power to ensure that our immigrant communities – my brothers, my sisters – in District 28 and in New York City are provided for,” Adams said at a forum hosted by. The New York Immigration Coalition and the New York Immigration Coalition Action were organized last month.
Adams also told WNYC / Gothamist that she hopes to continue her work on public safety, economic revitalization for the city and better education.
It is unclear how the dynamic of the speaker’s race will shape the relationship between Adams and the elected mayor. Eric Adams had endorsed Queens councilor Francisco Moya, who did not have the 26 votes necessary to win the race.
Speaking to reporters, Eric Adams said whether Moya or Adrienne Adams wins, he can work with both as they have their stance of “keeping our city safe”.
Similarly, Adrienne Adams signaled her willingness to work with the elected mayor but maintain a degree of independence.
“My hope would be that we would have good relationships because he knows I know how to push back and how to become a partner,” said Adams in her interview with WNYC / Gothamist.