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Assemblyman Al Taylor joins primary against Kristin Richardson Jordan for Harlem Council seat

Al Taylor (center) announces his bid for Council District 9 in Harlem.
Al Taylor (center) announces his bid for Council District 9 in Harlem.
George Arzt Communications

Upper Manhattan Assemblyman Al Taylor announced his bid for City Council District 9 on Tuesday, which set up a dramatic showdown between him and the incumbent legislator, Kristin Richardson Jordan. 

The seat, which was won by Jordan in 2021, a Democrat, covers the Central Harlem area of Manhattan, and will now host one of the most hotly-contested races in New York City politics.

The Democratic Primary will also feature Yusef Salaam, of the “Exonerated 5” — an individual falsely accused of rape in what was once called the “Central Park 5” case — and state Senator Inez Dickens.

Taylor, explaining his reasoning for launching the campaign, noted his long work in the state’s lower chamber as evidence of his qualifications. 

“We have to work together with colleagues for the benefit of constituents to help them live better, healthier and affordable lives,” Taylor said in a statement when announcing his run. “I have proven to possess and apply that commitment in my work in the Assembly, and I want to bring it home to the City Council.”

Jordan was elected to the seat in 2021, but all 51 City Council seats next year are up for grabs thanks to the recently completed City Council redistricting process. A staunch progressive, City and State reported that Jordan has drawn the ire of more moderate Democrats for opposing legislation such as market rate housing in a local mixed-use development and sending out tweets seemingly justifying Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Taylor seems to have the backing of the political establishment in New York City. 

“I look forward to having a true partner in government, where Harlem can once again assume its rightful place in the center of New York City governance for the betterment of our shared constituents,” said state Senator Cordell Cleare. “We are stronger when we all stand together. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and work to elect Assemblyman Al Taylor to the Council.”

Taylor has been in the Assembly since he was first elected in 1974, and has become a staple of the political scene over the years. 

Now, he is looking to make the jump from being a legislator at the state level to the city level. 

“We have to work together with colleagues for the benefit of constituents to help them live better, healthier and affordable lives,” said Taylor. “Whether supporting our affordable housing needs, working as a community activist against gun violence, or enhancing educational opportunities for our children, I have proven to possess and apply that commitment in my work in the Assembly, and I want to bring it home to the City Council.”

Jordan, who did not respond to a request for comment, has drawn the ire of some observers for her fiercely ant-development streak in the City Council, arguing that market-rate development would further increase gentrification in the neighborhood. 

The race is taking place in 2021, just two years after the previous Council elections, due to redistricting that resulted from the every-ten-year census report. 

Joining Taylor, Assemblyman Eddie Gibbs, who represents a neighboring district from Taylor, praised his colleague, and his longtime work to improve the lives of Harlem residents. 

“We know with Al Taylor in office, the East Harlem portion of his district will no longer be an afterthought,” said Gibbs. “Our needs are great, and his skills and commitment promise those needs will be addressed in an effective and collaborative manner.”

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