New York City Council
Learn more about New York City Council
The New York City Council is the lawmaking body of the City of New York. It comprises 51 members from 51 council districts throughout the five boroughs. The Council serves as balance of power against the mayor in a "strong" mayor-council government model. The council monitors performance of city agencies and makes land use decisions as well as legislating on a variety of other issues. The City Council also has sole responsibility for approving the city budget and each member is limited to two consecutive terms in office.
The current speaker of the City Council is Christine C. Quinn. There are 48 Democratic council members led by Majority Leader Joel Rivera. The three Republican council members are led by Minority Leader James Oddo.
The Council has several committees with oversight of various functions of the city government. Each council member sits on at least three standing, select or subcommittees (listed below). The standing committees meet at least once per month. The Speaker of the Council, the Majority Leader, and the Minority Leader are all ex officio members of every committee.
Council members are elected every four years, except for two consecutive two year terms every twenty years (starting in 2001 and 2003 and again in 2021 and 2023). The head of the City Council is called the Speaker, and is currently Christine Quinn, a Democrat.
 History of the City Council
The History of the New York City Council can be traced to Dutch colonial days when New York City was called New Amsterdam.
On February 2, 1653, the town of New Amsterdam, founded on the southern tip of Manhattan Island in 1625, was incorporated as a city under a charter issued by the Dutch West India Company. A Council of Legislators sat as the local lawmaking body and as a court of inferior jurisdiction.
After a number of changes through the ensuing years, the present Council was born in 1938 under a new charter which instituted the Council as the sole legislative body and the New York City Board of Estimate as the chief administrative body. Certain functions of the Council, however, remained subject to the approval of the Board.
A system of proportional representation seated a 26-member Council in 1938 to serve two-year terms. The term was extended to four years in 1945 to coincide with the term of the Mayor. Proportional representation was abolished in 1949. It was replaced by a system of electing one Council Member from each State Senate district within the city. The Charter also provided for the election of two Council Members-at-large from each of the five boroughs. In June 1983, however, a federal court ruled that the 10 at-large seats violated the United States Constitution's one-person, one-vote mandate.
In 1989, the Supreme Court ruled that the Board of Estimate also violated the one-person, one-vote mandate. In response, the new Charter abolished the Board of Estimate and provided for the redrawing of the Council district lines to increase minority representation on the Council. It also increased the number of Council Members from 35 to 51. The Council was then granted full power over the municipal budget, as well as authority over zoning, land use and franchises.
A two-term limit was imposed on City Council members and citywide elected officials after a 1993 referendum. In 1996, voters turned down a Council proposal to extend term limits. The movement to introduce term limits was led by Ronald Lauder, a cosmetics heir, who spent $4 million on the two referendums.
 City Council Standing Committees
- Civil Rights
- Civil Service & Labor
- Community Development (Select Committee)
- Consumer Affairs
- Cultural Affairs, Libraries & International Intergroup Relations
- Economic Development
- Environmental Protection
- Fire & Criminal Justice Services
- General Welfare
- Governmental Operations
- Higher Education
- Housing & Buildings
- Juvenile Justice
- Land Use
- Mental Health, Mental Retardation, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse & Disability Services
- Oversight and Investigations
- Parks & Recreation
- Public Safety
- Rules, Privileges & Elections
- Sanitation & Solid Waste Management
- Small Business
- Standards & Ethics
- State & Federal Legislation
- Technology in Government
- Women's Issues
- Youth Services
 City Council Subcommittees
- Drug Abuse
- Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses
- Planning, Dispositions and Concessions
- Public Housing
- Senior Centers
- Zoning and Franchises
 City Council Partisan Makeup
 Members of the City Council
 Council Leadership Information
|Majority Leader||Joel Rivera||Democratic||Bronx||15|
|Minority Leader||James Oddo||Republican||Staten Island||50|
 See also
- Government of New York City
- Membership of the New York City Council
- History of New York City
- Mayor of New York City
- New York City Civil Court
- New York City Criminal Court