Diversifying the City Council in New York

Tiffany Caban, a Democratic candidate from Queens, hopes to be one of the new female faces of the next New York City Council.

"We have Muslim women. We have queer women. We have Latina women, we have Black folks," Caban said. "We have people that are part of the disability community."

Women candidates did so well in the June primaries that the City Council is poised to be one of the most diverse in both gender and race after the general election in November.

"It's going to be transformational — we are going to come in with a majority progressive women," Caban said. "Not just women, women of color and gender identities — those experiences are going to shape how we set a budget."

Felicia Kalan, the Republican challenger to Caban, agreed that representation matters.

"We need a seat at the table, more than just women — also mothers like myself, I have a 6- and 5-year old," Kalan said. "We need a different voice at City Hall. Only three of the 51 members at City Council are Republican." 

The organization 21 in 21 was founded by female lawmakers in 2017 to increase the number of women on the City Council by 2021. 

"I think it's really good to make sure there are diverse voices at the table," executive board chair Amelia Adams said. "New York City is overwhelmingly majority women and I think it's a good thing to have representation that is reflective of the population." 

Get breaking news alerts in the FOX 5 NY News app. Download for FREE!

New Yorkers citywide used ranked choice voting for the first time in the June primaries.  Ranking the top five candidates instead of just one has been credited with helping get more women and minorities elected to public office. 

Erin Vilardi is the founder and CEO of Vote Run Lead, an organization that trains women to run for public office.

"The conditions for running in a ranked choice election make it more likely that some nontraditional candidates will get in," Vilardi said. "We need a different kind of thinking, we need better gender diversity, better racial diversity to reflect the city and the lived experience of the current City Council to provide solutions."  

In New York City and nationwide, we saw more women wanting to run for public office after Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Several organizations were formed to recruit and guide first-time female candidates through the campaign process. Those efforts may be paying off in January 2022 with the makeup of the new City Council.