Binghamton, N.Y.’s 1st Black City Councilperson, Lea Webb
Young Lea Webb’s star is shining bright. A representative for the 4th District on Binghamton City Council, located in upstate New York, she’s the first African American woman elected to this office and is currently serving as the president pro tempore.
“When I ran for city council five years ago, I actually ran against the city council president. When I won, I became the first African American ever elected in the history of the city,” says Webb, radiating with confidence.
When asked about the challenges she faces in this position, she replies, “A lot of the challenges that all municipalities face — balancing budgets and providing job opportunities.”
At a recent New York Urban League Young Professionals event where her colleague Kristal High was being honored, Webb shares with rollingout.com what she brings to her position, why her hometown is unique and how she’s grown since taking office.
How do you describe your platform on the city council?
I have been taking innovative approaches, collaborating with different partners on different levels of government and different organizations to really address a lot of the challenges we have in our communities.
In terms of culture, how does Binghamton compare to New York City?
Binghamton is the home to State University of New York Binghamton, which is one of the top performing schools in New York for the SUNY system.
What about diversity?
The community has grown diverse in the past 10 years. With growth comes growing pains. One of the things that [I] and other community partners have been trying to do is create an environment that is not really focused around tolerance, but welcomes and embraces different cultures. We all have something to contribute to our communities.
In the past 5 years, how have you grown as a community leader?
I’ve taken the approaches that I learned as a community organizer and have made it my priority to ensure that residents in my district and city who have typically been left out of the decision making process are constantly engaged and are actively involved with city government.
Webb received her bachelor of science from SUNY Binghamton in psychology and biology. She also serves as the director of MCCAP at Citizen Action of NY and is a member of the Broome County Urban League. –yvette caslin