Councilmen Lew Fidler and Jumaane Williams together. (Source: NY City Council via the Brooklyn Daily Eagle)

A terrible photo of councilmembers Lew Fidler and Jumaane Williams together. (Source: NY City Council via the Brooklyn Daily Eagle)

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.

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  • Murry

    All statistics show that the folks living in high crime areas want the ‘ stop and frisk ‘ procedure to continue. What the hell is wrong with these politicians ?

    • NYCCit

      Anything for a minority vote. Even if it’s just a perceived one. Never met a politician that wouldn’t sell out quickly for an election win, they are all scum, it’s a pre-req to be a politician. Honest people don’t go into politics.

    • concerned

      All people, no matter where they live want to be safe. However, those who do live in high crime areas also want respect and fairness from the NYPD. How many people in high crime areas did you speak to before making that statement?

      • Murry

        Concerned, there was no insult intended. I’m sure if the opportunity presented its self you would move to a decent area. I work with and have talked to minorities who tell me they can deal with bad cops. Its just hard for them to reason with a 9 mm.

  • zen3344

    Two absolute winners…Fidler and Williams. Groan.

  • bruce b

    Regardless of his politics, I give this guy a lot of credit persevering through his ailment(s) to achieve something in life. It ain’t easy

  • Edward Jaworski

    Like it or not, look at waht CM Williams has accomplished in a short time, then look at what Mike Nelson has not accomplished.

  • Jumaane Williams

    Hopefully people will research the bill and associated data related to stops…and not just rely on media. The bills don’t prevent police ability to stop, question, frisk and search people when necessary. It stops profiling which has lead to stops that have not been helpful and more lead by quotas. –Jumaane

    • Lew from Brooklyn

      While I do not agree that the bills are good answers to the issue, I do understand the angst caused when someone is stopped merely because of their appearance. CM Williams meets all the police standards for unconstitutional stops being a young [ish] Black man with dreadlocks and yet he is the most peaceable person I know. Stop and frisk should allow police to stop someone who meets his description…provided they are looking for someone who meets his general description. However, allowing umpteen hundred State Supreme Court judges to rule on police policy [where only lawyers are eligible to be awarded money from the case!] and putting in a monitor to oversee the department legislatively when the Council’s Public Safety Committee is SUPPOSED to have that power make little sense to me.
      I do however want to say to those who have disparaged him, that one can have a different perspective and position without being “an idiot” and Jumaane is sincere in his advocacy and it is an honor to serve with him no matter how different our opinions are on these two bills.
      Lew from Brooklyn