First term Councilman Jumaane Williams has been a rising star in the New York City Council and his introduction into the world of politics can be partly attributed to local Councilman Lew Fidler. A report in the New York Daily News tracks Williams’ interesting path to political success as well as the unlikely bond the councilman shares with Fidler.
Williams, 37, was elected to the City Council in 2009 as a Democrat representing parts of Midwood, Canarsie, Flatbush, East Flatbush and the Flatlands. The Daily News described Williams’ childhood challenges as well as his early career path as an actor:
Williams, who wears his hair in dreadlocks, spent his early years labeled a problem child, prone to verbal outbursts. It wasn’t until his teens that he was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
“I thought it was just a behavioral problem,” his mother, Patricia Williams, a native of Grenada, told the Daily News. “But he was always a caring person, which I think drives him to achieve what he does.”
He gravitated towards acting in his 20s, landing small roles in rap duo EPMD’s video for “Da Joint” and Solo’s “Touch Me.”
Despite his dreams of becoming an actor, Williams was always interested in politics, joining the student government when he was a student of Brooklyn College. The Daily News described how Fidler helped put Williams on the path towards a different kind of stardom, that of the political nature:
Ironically it was Fidler — the councilman who heaped praise on Williams when voting no on his Council bills — who helped bring him into politics. A friend who knew Williams from his time in student government at Brooklyn College recommended him to Fidler, a Democratic district leader.
The woman recommended him even though Williams and Fidler had been on opposing sides of issues.
Fidler ended up appointing him to the community board, and he became deeply involved in Brooklyn politics.
Williams has made waves recently for leading the charge against Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s stop-and-frisk policy, successfully sponsoring legislation that allows residents to sue the NYPD for profiling people racially, for sexual orientation, suspected immigrant status, gender or homelessness. Williams scored praise for his handling of the measure, diplomatically arguing his case without resorting to divisive rhetoric.
An example of this is when Williams heard the news that a federal judge ordered reforms on the stop-and-frisk policy, he tweeted a photo of himself with Howard Wolfson, Bloomberg’s deputy mayor, stating that, “It’s about disagreeing without being disagreeable.” Needless to say, such an act would be a touch out-of-character for Councilman Charles Barron.
Even though Fidler sided with Bloomberg’s subsequent veto attempt of the measure, the Daily News noted the councilman heaped praise on Williams, saying that Williams changed his “perspective” on stop-and-frisk.