By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Chelsea Councilmember Corey Johnson was inaugurated as Speaker at FIT’s Haft Theater last weekend, becoming the first openly HIV-positive elected official in the position. Johnson pledged to fight for affordable housing, small businesses and fixes for the MTA.
“These problems are incredibly complex and by confronting them, we will ensure that New Yorkers have good paying jobs, healthcare and good schools,” he said. “The city, state and federal governments have to work together to fix the subways. No person should be stopped and frisked. It’s our responsibility to stand up for immigrants, women, people who are transgender, seniors and the poor.”
Johnson especially stressed the importance of renewing the rent laws in state capital.
“We need to press Albany to renew the rent laws,” he said. “We need to close the loopholes that give landlords the ability to deregulate thousands of apartments a year.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer swore Johnson in after various state and local elected officials reflected on his career. Former State Senator Tom Duane, who represented the 27th district, praised Johnson’s dedication to fighting for Democratic causes.
“One-third of being an elected official is making good things happen but two-thirds of it is stopping bad things from happening,” Duane said. “Corey is really good at stopping those bad things from happening and at making good things happen.”
Multiple speakers at the inauguration pointed to Johnson as a leader of the resistance, calling for New York City to stay involved with the immigration battle in Congress.
“At this point more than ever, we need a fighter,” Schumer said. “It’s a great day because we’re getting such a great leader. We have to prevent this democracy from being rolled over by people with authoritarian tendencies.”