Melissa Mark-Viverito Declares Victory in Speaker’s Race [Update]

Councilwoman Melissa Mark Viverito (Photo: Twitter)

Melissa Mark Viverito (Photo: Twitter)

East Harlem Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito officially declared victory this evening in the City Council speaker’s race.

After many twists and turns, Ms. Mark-Viverito rolled out official statements of support from 30 members, which would end the contest if all of the votes hold true. 

“I am humbled to have the support and confidence that my colleagues have placed in me,” Ms. Mark Viverito said in a statement. “Today is the culmination of over two decades of my work at the grassroots, in non-profit organizations, in labor and as a public servant. I know that my fellow members will work with me in the City Council to create more inclusive legislative body where every member’s voice is heard and validated.”

This evening’s move also functions as a power-play against Ms. Mark-Viverito’s remaining rival, East Side Councilman Dan Garodnick, who is seeking to solidify the support of the county organizations in his own bid for the city’s second-most-powerful post. But given the depth of her stated support, her current position appears imposing. 

Update (10:44 p.m.): In a statement, Mr. Garodnick said the race is not over yet and accused Ms. Mark-Viverito of jumping the gun with her announcement:

“It is premature to declare victory. We are going to elect a Speaker on January 8, and I hope to earn the votes of my colleagues then.”

Ms. Mark-Viverito’s coalition is ideologically diverse, roping in far left members including incoming Councilwoman Inez Barron, a social conservative in incoming Councilman Chaim Deutsch and even Queens Republican Eric Ulrich. Mr. Ulrich once suggested he could not vote for Ms. Mark-Viverito after it was revealed she did not recite the Pledge of Allegiance before council meetings. He has apparently since changed his mind.

Rumored backers of Mr. Garodnick, like incoming Manhattan Councilmen Corey Johnson and Ben Kallos, also threw their support to Ms. Mark-Viverito. People left off of the announcement appear to be party stalwarts from Queens and the Bronx in particular. (One member, Brooklyn Councilwoman Darlene Mealy, is on the list but did not provide a statement.)

But the 51 members of the City Council won’t vote until the start of the legislative session in January–leaving enough time for movement to theoretically unfold and impact the race. It takes just 26 votes to crown a speaker.

View Ms. Mark-Viverito’s colleagues’ statements below. The list has been formatted and numerated but otherwise has been left unaltered:

1. Assemblywoman Inez Barron, Council Member-elect, Brooklyn
“I am pleased to announce my support for City Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito as Speaker of the New York City Council. I believe she will provide leadership and integrity that will move the City Council toward eliminating inequities in funding allocations. I look forward to working collaboratively to develop programs and produce a budget that addresses the concerns of the neediest communities.”

2. Margaret Chin, Council Member, Manhattan
“I have worked with Melissa Mark-Viverito in the Council and I know she will make a great Speaker. New York is a progressive city–a city that voted loudly and clearly for a progressive future. Melissa will be a true partner as we work together to ensure that every New Yorker can build a better life here.”

3. Robert Cornegy, Council Member-elect, Brooklyn
“I am extremely happy and proud to welcome the new speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito who has been proven to be inclusive of all members in all districts in the city of New York”

4. Laurie Cumbo, Council Member-elect, Brooklyn
“A new political era has emerged as the Brooklyn Delegation has formed a partnership with the Progressive Caucus to support Melissa Mark-Viverito for speaker of the City Council. Our leader Frank Seddio has demonstrated his unique ability to bring diverse coalitions together in order to provide the strongest foundation for our Mayor – Elect Bill de Blasio to realize his vision of creating one New York.”

5. Daniel Dromm, Council Member, Queens
“I am proud to have been one of NYC Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito’s earliest supporters. Having a bright, dynamic, independent and committed progressive as the leader of the Council is truly exciting. Mark-Viverito will continue to be a voice for the voiceless. Her connection to the people is her greatest strength. I congratulate her on her victory as the next Speaker of the NYC Council. This is a great day for New York City!”

6. Chaim Deutsch, Council Member-elect, Brooklyn
“Today, I join a group of committed public servants to help move our great city forward under the leadership of Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, who has personally pledged to work with me to benefit my constituents, and the district that I represent.

7. Assemblyman Rafael Espinal, Council Member-elect, Brooklyn
“I congratulate Melissa Mark-Viverito in being able to form a consensus between all the members supporting her and believe she will do a great job as the next City Council Speaker. I also would like to commend Frank Seddio in his leadership. He showed his true strength by uniting Brooklyn in choosing a candidate that would do right by the borough.”

8. Mathieu Eugene, Council Member, Brooklyn
“I am very pleased that we came together to choose a speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito. This is a great win for NYC.”

9. Julissa Ferreras, Council Member, Queens
“I’m proud to be helping to elect the first Latina Speaker of the New York City Council. Melissa is a friend and an impressive leader. I look forward to working with her to move our community forward, improve our schools, create good jobs and improve green spaces. Today is a great day for all New Yorkers.”

10. Vincent Gentile, Council Member, Brooklyn
“Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito has been a colleague of mine in the trenches for many years and I am confident she will lead our body in a more democratic, transparent, and inclusive direction. In addition, Councilwoman Mark-Viverito and I were among Mayor-Elect de Blasio’s earliest supporters and together with Chairman Frank Seddio, we look forward to making the Mayor-Elect’s vision for New York City a reality. This is a very exciting time for our borough and our city.”

11. David Greenfield, Council Member, Brooklyn
“I am thrilled to support Melissa Mark-Viverito as the next Speaker of the New York City Council. I’m especially pleased that all of the Brooklyn members are unanimously supporting Melissa. Having spent a lot of time with Melissa, including during a trip to Israel, I can attest to her integrity, conviction and deep understanding of the needs of all New Yorkers. I look forward to working with her and Mayor-elect de Blasio to make great things happen for our City.”

12. Corey Johnson, Council Member-elect, Manhattan
“I’m honored and proud to have been part of this process in selecting a progressive Speaker for the Council. Melissa Mark-Viverito will be a progressive leader as Speaker – as she as been the past eight years on the Council. I look forward to working with all of my colleagues on the Council in enacting legislation and policies that will benefit all New Yorkers — especially those who have been left behind. We are at a new, exciting moment for our City and I’m optimistic this Council will play a significant role in seizing this opportunity.”

13. Brad Lander, Council Member, Brooklyn
“Melissa Mark-Viverito will be a great Speaker of the New York City Council. She is a passionate fighter for justice with a deep understanding of public policy and an unshakeable commitment to good government. Under her leadership, the City Council will enact rules reform, become a more inclusive and effective voice for all our communities, and pass progressive policy to create a more just, compassionate and equal New York City.”

14. Steve Levin, Council Member, Brooklyn
“I am thrilled to be supporting Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito to be our next Speaker of the City Council. Councilmember Mark-Viverito has been a strong champion of working families throughout New York City for many years and I am confident that she will bring that dedication to equality and fairness with her to the Speakership so that every New Yorker has a fair deal.”

15. Mark Levine, Council Member-elect, Manhattan
“This agreement heralds a new era for the City Council and for the city at large — a time of activist progressive policy-making to address the growing gap of inequality here. Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito is the best leader to push for a more open, transparent and democratic City Council – which is exactly what New Yorkers want.”

16. Assemblyman Alan Maisel, Council Member-elect, Brooklyn
“It’s a great day for the City of New York that we’re all united in Brooklyn under the leadership of Melissa Mark-Viverito.”

17. Carlos Menchaca, Council Member-elect, Brooklyn
“Never before in the history of the NYC Council has choosing the Speaker been so important. New Yorkers in this year’s election voted for leaders who will realign the power of government on behalf of working families, immigrants and eliminating inequality for all. As my first order of business, I am proud to be setting that course by electing our first-ever Latina Melissa Mark-Viverito as our next Speaker. She has a proven tenure of fearless progressive leadership and her successful run to be our next speaker proves she will continue to coalesce the majority of this new Council. I cannot wait to join my colleagues in January and begin writing this new chapter in the New York City Council.”

18. Daneek Miller, Council Member-elect, Queens
“I know and am thrilled with Melissa Mark-Viverito as our speaker and lead voice. We share common interests I know the council will move forward with a progressive voice.”

19. Antonio Reynoso, Council Member-elect, Brooklyn and Queens
“Today is a historic day for the New York City Council. Not only have we come to an agreement to make Melissa Mark-Viverito the first ever Latina Speaker of the Council, but have made the Council a stronger institution to address the inequalities that plague our City. I want to thank my peers from the Progressive Caucus, Brooklyn Democratic Chair Frank Seddio, the Working Families Party and its allies.”

20. Donovan Richards, Council Member, Queens
“Melissa Mark-Viverito has been a staunch advocate for the families of Southeast Queens and New York City for decades,” said Council member Donovan Richards. “Whether it was fighting for progressive issues such as paid sick leave days or reforming stop & frisk, she has continuously been on the front lines for our communities. This is why I stand with her in support of her candidacy to become the speaker of the New York City Council.”

21. Ydanis Rodriguez, Council Member, Manhattan
“I am pleased to say our city will have a truly progressive future under the leadership of our next speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito. She has proven time after time her commitment to stemming the tide of poverty in this city, to quelling the divergence between the super-rich and those still struggling to make ends meet after a 40 hour work week, by bringing people of different backgrounds together around one vision: a New York City where all can live and thrive.”

22. Debi Rose, Council Member, Staten Island
“I look forward to working with my long-time colleague Melissa Mark-Viverito as the next Speaker of the City Council. We have worked together on many progressive issues and I know her to be tenacious, smart, and hard-working, and someone who has always demonstrated a unique ability to bring people together. Over the next term I will work closely with her to bring the progressive changes we need to Staten Island and all of New York City.”

23. Helen Rosenthal, Council Member-elect, Manhattan
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to vote for Melissa Mark-Viverito as our next Speaker. Melissa was an enthusiastic participant in the City Council Speaker Forums and her message of empowerment was consistent and persuasive. Working with her colleagues in government, I know Melissa to be someone who will strive to ensure that the many great attributes of New York are accessible to more of its citizens, and that it will remain a City where everyone can thrive and advance.”

24. Ritchie Torres, Council Member-elect, Bronx
“My Bronx neighbors, the poorest in the City, urgently need a City Council that will give them a fighting chance at a better life. Today’s victory will help ensure that we deliver real progress for the most vulnerable, marginalized, and overlooked residents of our five boroughs. At a time of rising poverty and inequality, we need a Council Speaker with the clearest and strongest record of fighting for low-income New Yorkers and underserved New Yorkers. Among an impressive group of Speaker candidates, Melissa Mark-Viverito stands out as the boldest progressive leader. She is the leader best-positioned to make economic justice and fairness top priorities for city government.”

25. Mark Treyger, Council Member-elect, Brooklyn
“We are fortunate that we are entering the next Council as a united front under the leadership of Melissa Mark-Viverito. Our city has serious issues including my neighborhoods that are still recovering from Sandy. I am confident that Melissa will work with us on Sandy recovery, better schools and improving our quality of life.”

26. Eric Ulrich, Council Member, Queens
“I want to congratulate my colleague Melissa Mark-Viverito on winning a hard-fought race for Speaker of the City Council. I am happy to be part of a diverse coalition of councilmembers and look forward to working with them in a bipartisan fashion on behalf of the working and middle class families in my district and throughout the five boroughs.”

27. Jimmy Van Bramer, Council Member, Queens
“I congratulate my colleague Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, who will become the next Speaker of the New York City Council. I am enormously proud to vote for a progressive and the first Latina to lead our great body. I am equally proud to elect a woman, who as Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus, a body I have stood with since day one, has dedicated her life to ending injustice in all its forms including discrimination and violence against the LGBT community. The unending struggle for a more just city continues, and working together with Mayor-Elect de Blasio, I know our best days are ahead of us.”

28. Jumaane Williams, Council Member, Brooklyn
“I extend my warm congratulations to Council Member Mark-Viverito. I am happy that the Progressive Bloc, along with Brooklyn county leadership, and each Brooklyn delegation member have come to a consensus. As a co-founding member of the Progressive Caucus, I made clear that my candidacy was not just about myself; and that I pledged I would support the candidate the Bloc coalesced around, and that candidate is Council Member Mark-Viverito. Now, we must begin the work of healing and uniting for the sake of all New York City residents and the challenges we face. I look forward to working with the new Speaker and all of my colleagues to have a strong independent City Council and to move this city in a more progressive direction.”

29. Ben Kallos, Council Member-elect, Manhattan
Ben Kallos could not submit a quote because he is on his honeymoon, but he is a committed member of this coalition supporting Melissa Mark-Viverito for Speaker.

30. Darlene Mealy, Council Member, Brooklyn

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