New York City Council’s new speaker has high hopes for a stronger and safer New York. Originally from Boston and proud of it, he also expresses a deep sense of loyalty and promise for his new home of sixteen years. Johnson, openly gay, HIV positive, and a survivor of substance abuse has been sober for 8 years and considers his story prerequisite experience for the issues affecting his district and across the city. In a recent interview, he discussed his love for dancing and the iconic nightlife of New York City, applauding the repeal of New York’s archaic cabaret law, drawing a comparison of what’s to come. A more celebratory approach to governing and representing the city’s diverse values and culture.  Of course, as speaker, his choreographic prowess will surely be tested as well.

Johnson is also making it clear that there are many changes to be made. “I am going to ensure that the council uses its full charter mandated authority in every way that comes to legislation, land use, the budget, and oversight. We are going to use our charter mandated powers. We’re not going to flinch, we’re not going to waver,” he said in an interview with WNYC’s Brian Lehrer. He admires the drive for criminal justice reform and plans to continue the fight to close down Rikers. He uses the subway almost every single day and is a staunch advocate for major system improvements. According to Johnson, one of the biggest problems is surface congestion. He proposes disincentivizing cars from entering Manhattan in order to improve air quality, traffic, and the environment.

Johnson’s also speaking out against the loss of small business is in his district and across the city. Amidst increasing rents, he advocates for those being pushed out and worries that we will lose much of our creative youth to other states that are more affordable. He takes a clear stance on Immigration and protecting the undocumented. Johnson is also a large promoter of diversity and wants to ensure that women, people of color, LGBT people, and immigrants are all represented in the council. When asked about his goals and plans for the future, he said, “Even though we have some good statistics, we still have a lot of improvement.” Some wise words from our new speaker.