Last week, Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito was able to gather the support she needs to become the next New York City Council Speaker. If this backing remains solid until January, the councilwoman, who represents East Harlem and parts of the South Bronx, would become the first Hispanic to lead this legislative body.
The Council’s Progressive Caucus took the lead in building this decisive block of support, which Viverito announced and 30 of her colleagues confirmed. A candidate needs only 26 votes to clinch the Speakership.
This is a game changer, as Democratic borough political bosses traditionally influence the selection of the speaker.
But leaders of the political machinery have reacted defiantly to Viverito’s imminent election.
Pressure to undermine her win is coming from Rep. Joe Crowley of Queens and Assemblyman Carl Heastie of the Bronx who represent two boroughs with major Latino presence (27.5% and 53.5%, respectively). The Democratic machines from both boroughs are pushing for Dan Garodnick, who represents an affluent Manhattan district.
We urge the 30 Council members who back Viverito to show nothing less than unwavering support. We also call on Latino members who backed Garodnick or who have been quietRosie Méndez of Manhattan, and Annabel Palma, Fernando Cabrera and María del Carmen Arroyo of the Bronxto vote for the Councilwoman. Anything less than this would have legendary trailblazers and organizers who are no longer with usfrom Richie Pérez to Dr. Evelina López Antonettyturning in their graves.
The value of Viverito’s candidacy comes from her proven and strong record of defending and delivering results for the New York that has been left behind. But this historic win would also put a Hispanic in one of the city’s top four political positions: mayor, comptroller, public advocate and speaker.
If Crowley, Heastie and company want to be known as the ones who got in the way of strong leadership and a community’s aspirations, they will most certainly be met with the ire of voters and grassroots organizers who know how to unseat incumbents.