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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 5, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 01
New York City Council elects Poz Gay man as speaker
Section One
ALL STORIES
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New York City Council elects Poz Gay man as speaker

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The New York City Council on January 3 elected an HIV-positive Gay man, Corey Johnson, as its speaker. The vote was 48-1. Johnson takes over from Melissa Mark-Viverito, who was term-limited out of the office.

Councilwoman Inez Barron, who mounted a last-minute bid for speaker to protest the lack of black candidates, was the only no vote.

Johnson has vowed to override any potential vetoes from New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, which never happened under Mark-Viverito. Nevertheless, Johnson's politics are said to align closely with the mayor's progressive agenda.

Johnson's election to head the New York City legislative branch caused some controversy, but not because of his HIV status or his sexual orientation.

According to the New York Daily News, Johnson got nearly $16,000 in bundled campaign donations from Jordan Roth, a major Broadway theater owner, and subsequently spoke against a proposed tax hike that targeted theaters.

At a January 24, 2017, hearing on the tax measure, Johnson grilled city officials who testified in support of the hike. The legislation would have made Broadway theatre owners benefiting from skyrocketing real estate prices contribute more to a fund that supports smaller stage productions and boosts diversity in theaters.

While the community board that covers the Theater District backed the proposal, Johnson opposed it. Days after the hearing, Mayor de Blasio's administration scrapped the proposal.

Johnson campaign spokesperson Chris Coffey said the theater industry is a major employer offering solid, middle-class jobs.

'Corey was proud to support the industry from his first days in the City Council, and he will keep doing that as speaker,' he said.

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