NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Melissa Mark-Viverito, an ally of Mayor Bill de Blasio, was elected speaker of the New York City Council on Wednesday after rival for the position conceded.
The 51-member body voted unanimously for Mark-Viverito, who becomes the first Hispanic person to hold the speaker’s job.
“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.”
Manhattan Democrat Daniel Garodnick abandoned his bid in the moments before the City Council’s vote and threw his support behind Mark-Viverito.
“In the spirit of strengthening the Council, which animated my candidacy from the start, I now formally concede to the next Speaker of the City Council — my colleague Melissa Mark-Viverito,” Garodnick said in a statement. “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. She is a smart and committed public servant, and we have worked extremely well together in the past.”
As CBS 2’s Dick Brennan reported, Mark-Viverito, 44, was born and raised in Puerto Rico and has represented East Harlem since 2006.
Mark-Viverito was considered to be the front-runner of the race in part because of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s departure from the tradition to lobby for her, CBS 2 reported.
De Blasio took the unusual step in recent weeks of injecting himself into the speaker race, calling council members to lobby on his candidate’s behalf.
“There’ll be times when we disagree and I know she will fight energetically for what she believes is right,” de Blasio said.
Mark-Viverito had said she had more than enough of her colleagues’ votes to become speaker, but Garodnick decided not to bow out and instead tried to peel off some of her supporters.
“Three weeks ago, I decided to remain a candidate notwithstanding long odds because I felt it was important that every Council Member be given a full opportunity to consider who they wanted to lead the body,” Garodnick stated. “Today that process comes to a conclusion.”
“I will do my part to resolve any rifts this process may have caused among our colleagues, and am here to take any steps necessary to help move forward together,” he added.
Mark-Viverito is one of the most liberal members of the council and was an early supporter of de Blasio’s mayoral bid.
She highlighted some of her legislative goals Wednesday.
“We will unite to fight to raise the minimum wage of low-wage workers at fast food restaurants and airports,” she said.
Mark-Viverito recently admitted recently she did not properly disclose rental income.
But she said it was an “unintentional mistake” and the mayor said she will “make it right.”
The speaker is considered the second-most powerful post in city government and has the ability to speed up or obstruct the mayor’s agenda.
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