June 9, 2017
By Michael Spitzer-Rubenstein
Normally when a politician says they are retiring to spend more time with their family, we’re skeptical. But Queens Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland seems to really mean it, describing the anguish of not being able to spend enough time with her husband and son.
Though widely-seen as a rising star, Ferreras-Copeland says she’s putting her happiness first.
Ferreras-Copeland had been running with the endorsements of 32BJ SEIU, UFT, CWA, and other unions. She was also a leading supporter of reforms to protect fast food and other low-wage workers and advocated to keep Wal-Mart out of New York City.
This shakes up the race to be the next Council Speaker, perhaps the second most powerful role in City politics. Ferreras-Copeland was seen as a serious contender for the position which is voted on by the City Council. While insiders pointed to her as de Blasio’s preferred candidate, her strained ties with Queens Democratic Leader Rep. Joe Crowley might have been a stumbling block.
Without Ferreras-Copeland in the race for Speaker, there are no other serious candidates from Queens, leaving Crowley free to wheel and deal. Look for him to throw his support (and the votes of the dozen-or-so Councilmembers loyal to him) to whichever candidate will deliver the most for him.
Ferreras-Copeland’s retirement also highlights the plight faced by women in government. Last week, the New York Times reported on how many women left working for Mayor de Blasio amid complaints about mismanagement and a hostile workplace. There were suggestions that Ferreras-Copeland couldn’t be Speaker because of her young family, an accusation that virtually never comes up for fathers. With her retirement, only 8 out of 51 City Councilmembers are likely to be women next year.
As for as her Council seat, Jackson Heights Assemblyman Francisco Moya is running to succeed Ferreras-Copeland. He has the support of the Queens Democratic Party and is widely-known thanks to his current position, making him the instant frontrunner for the Council seat.