The bloc of council members backing Melissa Mark-Viverito’s bid for City Council speaker huddled in a restaurant blocks from City Hall this morning, hoping to ensure their support for the East Harlem councilwoman remains steadfast.
Gathered at City Hall Restaurant on Duane Street, the council members were buoyant ahead of the historic vote, which is scheduled for noon. If elected, Ms. Mark-Viverito will become the city’s first Hispanic speaker.
“I’m really excited to do something historic that many said we could not do,” Councilman Ben Kallos told Politicker on his way to the restaurant this morning. “I know that the Progressive Caucus and Melissa as a speaker will be working very hard on unity.”
Another freshman Manhattan councilman, Corey Johnson, echoed Mr. Kallos’ sentiments and said he hoped everyone could put the bitterness of the speaker’s race behind them. Supporters of rival Councilman Dan Garodnick have contested Ms. Mark-Viverito’s candidacy into the 11th hour.
“I’m glad today is finally here. It’s been a long slog, and it’s been incredibly intense, and I just want to get to business,” said Mr. Johnson. “My hope is that after today is over and we elect a new speaker, who I believe will be Melissa Mark-Viverito and I think she’ll be a great speaker, the body can actually come together and we can get to work and get things done.”
Councilmen Ydanis Rodriguez, Jimmy Van Bramer and Mark Treyger also were spotted ambling down Duane Street to the restaurant, laughing together. Robert Cornegy arrived shortly after, and Ritchie Torres, the vocal Bronx member bucking his county organization, sped by Politicker, explaining he was already late to the meeting, which began around 10 a.m.
Sources said the powwow was intended to ensure no one was getting “cold feet” and to take a dry run at the parliamentary procedure that will govern the vote. Some in the Mark-Viverito camp fear that the city clerk presiding over the meeting, who was once a Queens loyalist, could somehow complicate their efforts. Others have expressed the concerns about the vote being delayed.
But even if the Mark-Viverito bloc holds, unity in the council itself could be hard to come by. Mr. Garodnick boasts the support of a concerted minority of council members and county organizations in the Queens and Bronx.
In past speaker races, warring factions reconciled ahead of the vote and elected speakers nearly unanimously. Today, that could also happen, but sources said hard feelings could linger. Backers of Mr. Garodnick, resenting Mayor Bill de Blasio’s intervention in the race on Ms. Mark-Viverito’s behalf, have reportedly discussed forming a rival Democratic caucus rather than unifying.
So far, 30 council members have publicly pledged their support for Ms. Mark-Viverito—four more than the 26-vote majority needed to crown a speaker.