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Perhaps the most progressive NYC Council Speaker we’ve had thus far, Melissa Mark-Viverito (who represents District 8 half in The Bronx and the rest in East Harlem), has publicly come out and supported long time ally and staffer, Diana Ayala.

Ayala has been working alongside the Speaker for the past 11 years and I’ve personally witnessed the compassion needed to lead in our communities that face different challenges than other districts in the city.

I may not always agree with everything Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito does or say but this is something I feel strongly about who should take over the reigns in our borough as a leader.

Diana Ayala comes untethered from the baggage that Bronx Democratic Machine-backed candidates tend to come with making her a much-needed independent voice (just like the Speaker)  for us as we face decisions from our Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr that are only accelerating gentrification—and district 8 is the epicenter of this battle.

One of the most important issues in supporting Ayala—besides being more than qualified to do so—is the issue of women in politics (or the lack thereof) of which there are many capable but seldom elected or encouraged to run and that’s something that Mark-Viverito constantly pushes to the forefront of political conversations.

Only 14 of the 51 Council Members are women and we clearly can do so much better with a plethora of qualified women already leading in our communities.

A number of our Councilwomen will be term-limited in 2017 including Mark-Viverito.

That being said, we have an opportunity to show support and get to know Diana Ayala at a fundraiser on July 7th.

Here’s the Speaker’s moving message posted on her personal Facebook account:

Thinking ahead has never been a fault of mine. And now is no different. 

It has been, & continues to be, an incredible privilege to serve my district. Out of the deep love I have for my constituents, for my district, the question has crossed my mind about who would I want to support to succeed me once my term ends in 2017? 

Who would engage in this work with integrity, with commitment, with the respect for those who too often have been cast aside & whom you will represent? Who would approach this work with love above all else? 

During the past year I have begun that conversation more earnestly as I plan ahead for my transition. Not gonna lie. Isn’t easy to say those words. Isn’t easy to leave something you LOVE to do. Something you consider your calling. But life is full of challenges & each one provides wonderful lessons. 

Many strong women have mentored me on my life’s journey starting with my mother Elizabeth Viverito. & it was my mentor, El Barrio/East Harlem activist Gloria E. Quinones who planted the seed that elected office was another way I could serve my community. That trust & confidence nurtured by so many before, came to fruition when Gloria & other women important in my life (Betty Perez Cutie Sandra Talavera Lorraine Cortes & others) saw leadership potential in me & encouraged me to run. I have never been alone from that moment on. 

So now, I pay it forward. As women it is important to support each other. That we encourage each other. As it stands there are too few of us in leadership positions be it the private or public sector. In the New York City Council, out of 51 City Council Members, only 14 are women. Outrageous. There are many qualified, committed women who can represent their districts with great integrity. & it is incumbent on us to force that conversation. To encourage women to run. 

Diana Ayala has been working alongside me in my office for the past 11 years. Prior to coming to work with me she had her own record of accomplishments. And a life story that is inspiring. 

Diana is a woman of integrity. She is intelligent. She is thoughtful. She is steadfast. She is committed. She is a hard worker. She is a daughter, a wife, a mother & grandmother. Diana is a reflection of who I fight for each & every day & what motivates me to do what I do. There is no better person to represent this district PUNTO

So, as I honor the tradition that has allowed me to humbly represent my district, the tradition of women investing in women, I humbly ask that you come & meet Diana so you can judge for yourself why she should be our next Council Member. 

Thank you. ¡Gracias! for taking the time to read this. & feel free to comment or repost. Su humilde servidora,

Melissa

I hope you do accept this invitation to come and meet Diana Ayala for yourself. I am more than thrilled that she is running for office and happily endorse this momentous occasion in her life.

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