Less than a week after mentioning her confidence in securing the win, New York councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito was elected speaker of the New York City Council on Wednesday, January 8. With a unanimous 51-0 vote, this makes the Puerto Rican-born lawmaker from East Harlem the first Hispanic to hold New York City’s second-most-powerful office.
“While it was difficult at times, that only makes today’s show of unity even better,” Mark-Viverito said after the vote. “We will work together because that is what New Yorkers expect and that is what New Yorkers deserve.”
The council’s new speaker beat out rival Dan Garodnick, who represented a large portion of Manhattan’s East Side and continued to battle for the post, even after Mark-Viverito released a list of thirty backers, including Lance Bass and Cythia Nixon. Garodnick earlier argued that Mayor de Blasio’s aggressive lobbying for Mark-Viverito compromised the independence of the council, which is supposed to act as a check on the mayor.
Gardonick has since promised to do his part to resolve any rifts that emerged during the weeks prior to election.
“I look forward to working with Speaker Mark-Viverito and to helping her to ensure that we can deliver a sound and responsible government for all New Yorkers,” he said. “She is a smart and committed public servant.”
Considered “one of the most liberal” of the council’s leaders since the speaker position was created in the late 1980s, the new City Council speaker will have tremendous control over New York City’s $70 billion budget and every bill that comes before council.
”After twenty years of Republican economic policy, I think it’s a policy that has really left a lot of people behind,” Mark-Viverito said. “We have an opportunity where people have clearly indicated that they want a new direction.”