Sen Gillibrand Event Highlights Momentum Behind 21 in ‘21 Initiative

Above (l to r): City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, former Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, 21 in’21 Executive Director Moira McDermott, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand​, former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo, Public Advocate Letitia James, EffectiveNY Executive Director Morgan Pehme, Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, former City Council candidate Amanda Farias

The 21 in ’21 Initiative, a group that launched last year to elect more women to the New York City Council, is quickly gaining steam, fueled in part by activism inspired by Donald Trump and the #MeToo movement, as well as the powerful support of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

Gillibrand appeared at a fundraiser this week for the Initiative, which aims to elect at least 21 women to the Council in the year 2021, when most of the seats in the 51-person body will be open because of term limits. Gillibrand, a national leader in the push to elect more women, praised the efforts of 21 in ’21, making the point that in order for more women to get elected on the federal level it is imperative for there to be a pipeline of women elected officials at the local level.

“More and more people are beginning to understand the gender imbalance on the City Council as a governing problem,” explained Elizabeth Crowley, 21 in ’21’s Board Chair and a former Council Member from Queens. “The City Council has a profound effect on all of our lives, from determining how to allocate billions of dollars of our tax money to laying out the city’s policy priorities. How can we have an adequate perspective on the needs of the city and the best way to meet them with so few women involved in these crucial decisions?”

The election of Donald Trump catalyzed an eruption of interest among women in becoming candidates, but over the last several months 21 in ’21 has seen an even greater surge in enthusiasm for its work.

“Since the dawn of the #MeToo era, at least 50 women have reached out to us, inquiring about running for their local Council seat in 2021,” said Moira McDermott, 21 in ’21’s Executive Director.

For 21 in ’21 to achieve its ambitious goal of electing 21 women to the Council and, ultimately, achieving gender parity in the city’s legislature, women from every community and neighborhood in the five boroughs are going to have to step up and become candidates. Since 2009, there has been a 39 percent decline in the number of women in the Council. The current Council has a mere 11 women members—less than 22% of the body.

“For this movement to succeed we need as many women to run as possible,” explained McDermott. “Don’t worry if you have no prior experience in politics or never even thought about being a candidate. 21 in ’21 was created to teach you the skills and provide you with the support you need to run and win.”

Bronxites wanting more information about 21 in ’21, to become a candidate for the Council, and to support the Initiative either financially or by holding an event in your area, go to 21in21.org.

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