Watch the video of our May 8 New York City Council District 9 Candidates Forum here.
THE NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL is the law-making body of the City of New York and it consists of 51 members from 51 different Council Districts throughout the five boroughs. The council monitors the performance of city agencies (ex. Department of Education, NYPD, etc.) and makes land use decisions as well as legislating on a variety of other issues. The City Council negotiates the City’s budget with the Mayor and has sole responsibility for adoption of the city budget. City Council Members provide leadership and guidance to their communities, communicating on behalf of their residents to the Council.
MEET THE CANDIDATES
As a Top National Student Leader Who Reached Africa and the Middle East William Allen was appointed by the United States Congressional Black Caucus and Phelps Stokes Fund as a Youth Envoy to Egypt. Later he was made history by being the first non-white SGA Vice President of Fordham University. At the City University of New York (CUNY), William Allen had every major student leadership role, including Editor-in-Chief of the nation’s oldest student-lead newspaper and serving in the nation’s very first University Student Council at CCNY. His prized role was being dubbed as one of the CUNY Against Apartheid Champions – he was able to secure an honorary doctorate for South Africa Leader Nelson Mandela. Other leadership roles, to name just a few, included Chair of the New York Urban Coalition Youth Leadership Task Force, Vice Chair of the City of New York Youth Employment & Planning Council, National Vice President of College Democrats of America, Steering Committee Chair of the United States Student Association, Vice Chair of CUNY Student Senate, Chair of the CUNY Council of Student Government Presidents.
During William Allen’s tenure as an Editor of the nation’s oldest student-led newspaper, he was recruited as a College Stringer with the New York Times, which lead to a stint with the Times Journal in the Greater Washington DC Area and as a reporter/writer of the New York Daily News, where in his first month, landed a major news story, capturing the attention of New Yorkers. After leaving the news business, he landed in a major corporate training program at a Fortune 500 corporation and then started his own company aiding the development of new artists like Kid Rock as well as writers and comedians at the Uptown Comedy Club.
Cordell Cleare’s activism began as a tenant organizer and as Chair of the New York City Coalition to End Lead Poisoning, where she fought hard to protect our children from the life threatening dangers of lead paint. For nearly two decades, she tirelessly served our community as Chief of Staff to Bill Perkins during his tenures in both the City Council and State Senate.
A co-founder of the Michelle Obama Democratic Club, she has represented us for many terms as our Democratic District Leader in Assembly District 68 and now in Assembly District 70. Previously, Cordell served as a member and then president of School Board 3 and also became President of Community Education Council (CEC) #3.
Cordell was raised in Harlem and has lived there with 4 generations of her family. She is a product of the New York City public school system and has stood up on issues like food, environmental and racial justice. Cordell will work to create fairness in housing, education, healthcare and equitable distribution of business opportunities, income equality and creating more black wealth. She is dedicated to preserving our families by focusing on job creation, career readiness, ending gun violence in our streets and domestic violence in our homes.
I’m Joshua Clennon and I’m running to represent NYC Council District 9 (South Harlem, Central Harlem, East Harlem, and Sugar Hill). I grew up in a hard-working class family of Caribbean immigrants and southern blacks that migrated to NYC from Alabama.
In 1995, my father was shot and killed in front of our home. My mother worked day and night as a beautician to keep the lights on and raise me. From my mother and my grandmother, I learned the importance of faith, hard work, perseverance, and giving back to the community. Despite all of our own problems, my family was always looking out for our neighbors because that’s what the village of Harlem is about.
My community involvement has included being appointed in 2018 to Community Board 10 as one of its youngest members and currently serve as Treasurer, joined the NAACP since 2016 and have been the Co-Chair of Economic Development Mid Manhattan Branch, appointed as the youngest Executive Director in 2018 for the Uptown Democratic Club (recruited over 50 candidates and elected young progressives to the NY County Committee), and served as a delegate for Bernie Sanders in 2016 and member of the Hillary for America Millennial Victory Fund.
Currently, I work with managing low-income housing cooperatives known as HDFCs has given me the experience needed to protect our community from predatory developers and bring real affordable housing solutions to City Hall. I want to fight for budget justice to save our small businesses, fully fund public schools, public banking, green jobs, infrastructure investments, and create more permanent income-based housing and cooperative homeownership opportunities. I’m running to make Harlem for the many, not the few who have profit from the displacement of our neighbors, friends, and families.
Over the last 25 years, Billy Council has used his personal experiences to better the lives of others. Billy has strived to be the kind of father, brother, uncle, and friend he needed when he was young. A father of three, he has built a reputation that he has earned by his sheer passion for tapping into the potential and creative drive of children. Today, Billy has been instrumental in the success of countless young men and women faced with tremendous hardships in their lives by serving as an administrator and recovery coach at the Phoenix House, a nonprofit drug and alcohol rehabilitation organization. He has coached and mentored hundreds of youth throughout the Amateur Athletic Union (A.A.U.) basketball circuit, co-founded The Rens, one of New York City’s prominent A.A.U. basketball programs, and founded the nonprofit organization CouncilHim, committed to the development, maturation, and empowerment of young people.
Billy may be new to politics but he is not new to public service. As a serial entrepreneur, Billy has earned his stripes opening and managing Black-owned restaurants like Shark Bar and Willie Michael’s Southern Cafe and is now the director of operations at COVE Lounge in Harlem. That’s why he knows Harlem needs leaders who are connected to the community, understand its needs and have new solutions to today’s problems. COVID-19 has shown us that we can longer do things the way they’ve always been done.
Kristin Richardson Jordan is a creative, Black, lesbian, activist, author, teacher, Brown University graduate, social justice advocate, spiritual warrior, and 3rd-generation Harlemite running for New York City Council District 9, Central Harlem. She believes in full employment, free quality education, free public transportation, and prison abolition and has a political platform encompassing 7 policy focus areas that spells out H.A.R.L.E.M. If elected Kristin also known as KRJ would be the second woman, the youngest ever, and the first openly LGBTQ person to hold this office in this district. She would also be the first out Black Lesbian/Black Queer Woman on the New York City Council in general. This, in addition to the politics she brings with her, will enact meaningful, lasting, necessary change.
Before joining the Borough President’s Office, Athena Moore was Director of Public Policy for the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, leading national health advocacy and legislative initiatives across the country in 11 cities. She was previously Associate Executive Director of the National Association of Social Workers-NYC Chapter.
Athena also served as Executive Director of the Black Equity Alliance at the United Way of New York City and as a senior manager for the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies. As the Senior Manager for FPWA, she worked with more than 240 non-profits, multi-service centers, and settlement houses across New York City. Additionally, she served as a strategic planning consultant for ACS, and focused much of her early career on children, youth, and family policy.
Her extensive community service also spans to her civic engagement as a member of the NAACP, NANBPWC and National Council of Negro Women. She is a current member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., where she is a Silver Star (31 years of service).
Mario Rosser is a Democrat running for City Council in Central Harlem, District 9. He is a partnership manager at LinkedIn, and a mentor to young people in the community. The grandson of sharecroppers who moved north from Mississippi, and the son of a mother who beat a drug addiction before his birth, Mario grew up coming home to eviction notices on the front door. Now, he is running to keep Harlemites in their homes, invest in the lives of young people, and keep the community safe and clean for the families who call Harlem home.
Growing up in the eighties on the West Side, Sheba Simpson was a witness to the crack epidemic and how it transformed her once safe and thriving community into a place where families were devastated by addiction and lives laid waste by incarceration. She firmly dreamt of helping her community, by putting her knowledge and talents to work for others in her neighborhood.
While attending Aquinas High School in the Bronx, Sheba volunteered after school at Morningside Day Care Center, where she realized that she enjoyed connecting with children and teaching them. This is where she began a life of public service.
For over 20 years, Sheba has taught racial equity in the Bronx. She has a license in Special Education, School Building Leader, and School District Leadership. She has also earned a myriad of certificates over the course of her career, including Restorative Justice and Conflict Resolution.
As a result of seeing so many families lose their businesses due to extortion and month to month leases, Sheba founded The Central Harlem Merchant Coalition to Save Small Businesses and Jobs; an initiative focused on fair long-term leases and job opportunities for formerly incarcerated people.
Dr. Keith Taylor is an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Law, Police Science and Criminal Justice Administration at John Jay College. A native New Yorker, he served as a public safety professional for 26 years, retiring as an assistant commissioner. At the NYPD, he was inducted into its Honor Legion for performing an act of bravery at imminent personal risk; he was promoted from undercover narcotics detective to detective sergeant where he supervised Internal Affairs, Missing Persons, Emergency Service Unit (Special Weapons and Tactics), and Federal Emergency Management Agency Urban Search and Rescue teams, receiving a commendation from Federal Bureau of Investigations Director Robert Meuller for resolving an incident of national significance at the United Nations’ New York City headquarters. As Commanding Officer of an Intelligence Bureau, he developed/improved policies, standards, and evaluation methodologies, specialized training, and interagency law enforcement coordination at the local, state and federal levels. During this time he earned masters degrees from City College of New York and the Naval Postgraduate School, as well as a doctorate from Columbia University’s Teachers College.
Learn more about the 2021 New York City Election and the candidates running for other offices here.