Queens Democratic primary leaders credit success to 21 in ’21 advocacy group

Several Queens candidates for City Council celebrated their primary victories with other candidates from around the city. (Courtesy of 21 in ’21)

Several Queens Democratic nominees for City Council joined their sister candidates from around the five boroughs in City Hall Park on Tuesday, July 13, to commemorate the potential first-ever woman majority in the council.

They gathered to celebrate “21 in ‘21,” the grassroots advocacy group founded in 2017 with a goal of getting more women elected to the City Council. According to the unofficial results from the city’s Board of Elections, the City Council is now poised to have as many as 30 women elected to serve, 26 of whom are women of color.

“21 in ‘21 was my very first public endorsement,” Councilwoman Selvena Brooks-Power said. “That is what propelled me and kept the momentum going. They literally provided the apparatus so women candidates could see it through. Women came from all over New York and they came to Rockaway and southeast Queens to knock doors and phone bank for me.”

Brooks-Powers won a special election in February and coasted to a primary victory last in June.

Lynn Schulman had run twice before in District 29 but came up short. But, according to the BOE’s unofficial results, the third time was the charm for Schulman.

“This is my third time running and I broke through with the help of 21 in ‘21,” Schulman said. “I come from a conservative district and was told that because I am an out lesbian that I was never going to get elected, and here I am.”

Linda Lee broke through a crowded field in District 23 to come out in front in the Democratic primary, according to the BOE’s unofficial results. Lee and Julie Won, who is the leader of the District 26 race, are poised to be the first Korean American women to be elected to the City Council.

“As a mom, as a daughter of immigrants and as someone who ran a nonprofit organization and has been in the trenches helping the community during COVID, we have a lot of work to do,” Lee said. “The reason women run for office is not for money, it’s not for power, it’s because they see an issue in their community and they want to fix it.”

Former Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley may have come up short in the race for Queens borough president during the primary, but as a co-founder of 21 in ‘21, she was full of pride as she surveyed the dozens of candidates.

“Look at us now. I cannot wait to see what this body does,” Crowley said. “What started out as an ambitious goal towards equality and representation several years ago has turned into a reality. I am proud of the work we did as 21 in ‘21 to elevate women and I look forward to seeing what this new City Council will do.”

New York State Attorney General Letitia James joined the City Hall Park rally, telling the crowd they didn’t crack the glass ceiling — they crushed it.

“As a woman who started out where these women stand today, I’m honored to congratulate them on their primary victories,” James said. “The City Council is the best place to build and deepen the bench for women to serve in Congress, state Legislature, citywide office and the office of the Attorney General. This is a tremendous win not only for the candidates, but New York City as well.”