Following Tuesday night’s unofficial results for the Democratic Primary New York City Council race––in which Yusef Salaam came out as the winner––fellow candidate and Assembly Member Al Taylor is looking ahead to continue serving the people of Harlem and beyond.
Salaam holds a commanding lead in the vote count and is expected to be declared the victor.
Along with Taylor, 65, and Salaam, 49, the race for the District 9 City Council seat included Assembly Member Inez Dickens, 73. The incumbent Kristen Richardson, 36, was also on the ballot, however she had announced she would not be seeking re-election.
Early results on Tuesday night showed Salaam with a strong lead, with Dickens in second and Taylor in third.
At his watch party, Assembly Member Taylor delivered his concession speech to the guests in attendance including some of his closest supporters, consultants and volunteers. Alongside Gwen Taylor, his wife of more than 20 years, he thanked them for their service to his campaign while offering an encouraging outlook for the future of Harlem.
“What I hope that will happen is that people do not view this as a loss but they see a new horizon for Harlem, and they want to be enthusiastic about it and get to be a part of a new what’s happening along with what has existed,” Taylor shared with the supporters in attendance. “I will be voting here side by side with this young man [Salaam] to give him my input as he wants and not as I see he ought to do. I think we need to make sure that people have their space to do what they want to do and create their own footprint.”
Earlier in June, Taylor and Salaam endorsed each other and encouraged their voters to rank the other second in a strategy to combat Dickens who had support from figures like Mayor Eric Adams.
Taylor said he is looking forward to working with Salaam for the betterment of the Harlem community.
“I’m happy. When is the last time someone stepped from outside of the system and won and ran with such a resounding mandate. I’m proud,” Taylor told the Amsterdam News.
Taylor’s term as an assembly member will continue until 2025.
“I will continue to champion Harlem, Washington Heights, Inwood, which I represent currently. And working on the city level with my brother Yusef Salaam and Assemblywoman Inez Dickens, I will continue to fight for the residents of this community in making sure we’re bringing home the resources,” Taylor said.
Taylor was also joined by New York State Senator Cordell Cleare who supported his campaign.
Cleare emphasized she is glad to be able to continue working with Taylor in the assembly.
“I still have someone who believes in the ideals and the things that this community believes in––who is an active, historic legacy part of this community. Who knows the people, cares about the people. So it’s a win for me anyway. We have someone coming back who is ready to take care of business,” Cleare said.
Born in the Hamilton Heights area, Taylor has been a lifelong resident of Harlem. After being mentored by the revered Judge Bruce Wright, he would earn his bachelor’s degree at Lehman College and later receive his masters of divinity at Nyack College.
Taylor assumed his office representing the 71st district of New York in the state assembly in 2017. His district includes Hamilton Heights, Harlem, Washington Heights, and Inwood. He pastors at the Infinity Mennonite Church located between 146th and 147th st on Adam Clayton Powell Blvd.
As a well known and beloved figure, volunteer Gabrielle Holder says Taylor spent much of his time engaging with community members throughout the campaign. “Al Taylor has a plethora of experience from his work in the state assembly for decades, and as a state assembly member for six years, and it shows in how he conducts himself in the community, and how much engaged he is with constituents and how much love there is for him in the community,” Holder said.
Both Taylor and volunteers would talk to Harlem residents campaigning in subways as well as communities such as the Polo Grounds, Lenox Terrace, Esplanade Gardens, etc.
“I gave this thing everything that I had. They said, you’re not gonna raise enough money, which we did, we got a lot of small dollars. I am proud of what we accomplished,” Taylor said.
As absentee ballots are being counted, which could take up to a week, a winner has yet to officially be declared although it is much expected Salaam will be confirmed as the winner soon and ultimately win the general election in November to head to the City Council.