Councilmember Tasha Diaz was elected to be the next Majority Leader of the Yonkers City Council at the re-organization meeting on Monday, Jan. 3, 2022. Diaz – who represents District 3 – will succeed Councilmember Corazon Pineda-Isaac as the next Majority Leader for the five council democrats for the next two years. Councilman Mike Breen was elected to serve as Minority Leader. Despite the historic moment, the meeting wasn’t without fireworks with two female Councilmembers calling out Diaz as unqualified and unable to serve as majority leader.
A coalition of Black and Brown female leaders sent out a joint statement to rally support of a Woman Of Color Majority Leader of the Yonkers City Council, last month. But the vote, and debate, to select Diaz was complete with a lack of unity from the women of color on the council, Corazon Pineda-Isaac and Shanae Williams.
Yonkers was established as a city in 1872, and the City Council was established in 1877. In the last 144 years we have only seen a majority of women serving on the City Council twice, the joint statement read. Despite the strong statement, the unity did not play out at the meeting.
“It’s a new day on the Yonkers City Council. Two years ago, I was voted in as majority leader and was grateful to serve…” Councilwoman Corazon Pineda-Isaac – who serves District 2 – said one hour and one minute into the meeting. “I am excited to have four women of color on the council and look forward to the successes that we will have as a democratic supermajority… Today I will be voting no on the rules and the selection of Councilmember Tasha Diaz as Majority Leader and Councilmember John Rubbo as majority whip. I have strong reservations about councilmember Diaz serving as Majority Leader…”
After some brief technical difficulties with her video, Councilwoman Shanae Williams (District 1)- while stating out it was historic to have a Black Woman as Council president and to have four women of color on the council – she was even more vocal on why she felt Councilwoman Diaz was not her choice for Majority Leader.
“I personally do not think that councilmember Diaz is the most qualified for the job,” Councilwoman Williams stated 1:07:00 into the meeting.” Councilwoman Williams went on to list a reason why including Councilwoman Diaz not supporting affordable housing (which you can watch and hear on the video above.)
Councilman Anthony J. Merante (District 6) then went on to speak and shared Councilman John Rubbo reached out for his support and he replied he wanted to reach out to the three female councilwomen – Pineda-Isaac, Williams and Diaz and told them if they could come together and get behind one of them, he would be the fourth vote, but they were unable to do so, so he supported Rubbo for Majority Leader, but they were unable to get a fourth vote, so he threw his support behind Councilwomen Diaz. “With all due respect to my council colleagues, let’s work with Councilwomen Diaz and make her the best Cpuncil Majority Leader we can have for the next two years.”
Councilman Mike Breen (District 5) defended Diaz’s stance on affordable housing, “To say she (Diaz) is not supporting affordable housing is not true, she is supporting it the way she sees it and the way other people see it… Councilwoman Diaz, I welcome you and I looking forward to working with you and let’s move this city forward.”
Councilman John Rubbo (District 4) went on to say, “I’m sadden to see some of the dirty laundry shaken out her in the public today, I think these are conversations, we can disagree behind closed doors, but for the betterment of our city it’s good to move forward on a united front. I am happy to support Councilwoman Diaz for the next two years as I supported Councilwoman Pineda two years ago …”
Councilwoman Diaz eventually won with a vote of 5 to 2. She won with votes from Councilmembers Merante, Breen, Rubbo and Council President Collins-Bellamy.
Councilwoman Diaz ““Thank you to everyone who believed in me and nominated me. As stated, I was the underdog. I’ve always been the underdog; nothing has ever been handed to me but stayed true to my morals, I;ve stayed with my strong head and a lot of people may feel intimidating to them, but the squeaky wheel gets the grease. The things I fight for, I collectively fight for my constituents as well as I work with my colleagues for on what their beliefs are…” She then went on to explain her stance on affordable housing – the big topic of discussion… She went on to say, “To tear down a woman, for two women to stand here and tear me down, I’m tough I can take that but that’s not what we’re here for…”
Council President Collins-Bellamy said, “I look forward to working with all of you to do grat things for the city. This is a historic moment, and I am humbled and thankful to serve as the first African American woman as council president and I take this role very seriously.”
“I congratulate councilmember Diaz on her new role. I’m here to support her in any way possible and wish her God’s grace moving forward. I saw your passion and I am inspired and impressed by that. For that reason, I will be supporting you for majority leader.”
On a side note, personally I was disappointed after receiving the strong statement from a coalition of Black and Brown female leaders in support of a Woman of Color Majority Leader to see the division of the Women of Color play out publicly. I understand in politics, you will have difference of opinions and all members will not see eye to eye, but this is a historic moment – with your first African-American Woman Council President and four Women of Color on the council – I feel it was somewhat diminished when the Women of Color are publicly tearing down each other down and not being able to support each other. Further compounded by the fact that it took three white men to for one of the Women of Color to become the next Majority Leader. I respect everyone stance and right to express how they feel but if we are honest, it wasn’t a good look. Like Councilman Rubbo said, this conversation and disagreement could have taken place behind the scenes, have to do better.
Black Westchester congratulates the four Women of Color on the Yonkers City Council, Lakisha Collins-Bellamy making history as the first African-American and Woman of Color to be elected President of the Yonkers City Council and Councilwoman Tasha Diaz as the new Council Majority Leader. BW looks forward to watching these powerful Women of Color move Yonkers forward despite the division at the re-organization meeting! Let me remind you that History has its eyes on you!