Today history has been made as New York City Council members gathered to vote for the next City Council Speaker and elected Melissa Mark-Viverito, a Puerto Rican born latina who’s district spans East Harlem with a greater portion in the Bronx.
Councilman Torres of the Bronx moved to nominate Melissa Mark-Viverito As speaker with a speech laced with all her accomplishments, particularly being a person of the people.
He urged other Council members to stand behind her, sadly as expected the Bronx Council members did not applause.
Other Council members who seconded the motion called her the most progressive elected official and what our city needs to move the city forward and help all New Yorkers particularly the underdog.
Dan Garodnick, her contender was recognized and officially conceded to Melissa Mark-Viverito. After hugging her he pledged to work to heal the rifts that came up during this tough selection process.
Once again, the chamber erupted in applause.
As of last night, Mark-Viverito, in an interview on NY1 had said she had the support of 30 Council members — enough to secure the position as the next Speaker, a position often considered to be the most powerful after the mayor.
But the road to her victory today was not an easy one.
As it became increasingly clear that she was the leading contender in the race Speaker, many criticized the need for a balance of power between the Council and the Mayor due to the fact that the both Mark-Viverito and Mayor de Blasio are progressive Democrats with similar agendas. The New York Post and Daily News went on a campaign of yellow journalism as well.
Mayor de Blasio actively campaigned for her which added fuel to the fire but what is interesting to point out is that if this was really about balance of power then why aren’t people making a big deal when, on a national level, the White House and Congress are politically aligned and a Speaker is being chosen?
The fact of the matter is that many of the attacks against Mark-Viverito were because not only were we going to have another woman serving as Speaker, but this time it was to be a woman of color, a Latina — severely upsetting the status quo in the power structure of New York City.
Melissa Mark-Viverito, born and raised in Puerto Rico, is now the most powerful individual in New York City after Mayor Bill de Blasio.
She is representative of the changing face of the city as we increasingly become more diverse and it is important to have a diverse governing body reflective of the people but more importantly, someone who is QUALIFIED.
Mark-Viverito is that qualified elected official who through her leadership has shown that she works for all people regardless of your religious, ethnic, racial backgrounds or socio-economic level.
The level which she engages the public in participatory budgeting is unprecedented, allowing citizens the power to choose where funds will be spent.
The big losers of today are, as usual, the Bronx Political Machine who refused to support Melissa Mark-Viverito in her quest for becoming City Speaker. She is not one to pander to party bosses and step in line with the party bit rather one with the people.
This very quality that scares the Bronx Democratic Party and machine is because she doesn’t make backroom deals as is the norm in our borough; a quality which makes her perfect as the Speaker for she will not always agree with the mayor due to her fierce independence.
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