Melissa Mark-Viverito was unanimously elected as the next City Council Speaker Wednesday by the 51-member body, becoming the second most powerful politician in the city and the first Latin-American to take the spot.
“We will work together, because that is what New Yorkers expect and that is what New Yorkers deserve,” she said. “We unite for a more equal and just New York.”
The two-term East Harlem councilmember first declared victory on Dec. 19 after receiving support from 30 council colleagues — more than the 26-majority vote needed. Reports later surfaced that city officials wanted a unified backing behind Mark-Viverito.
Shortly before the Jan. 8 vote, her opponent, Daniel Garodnick, conceded and sealed Mark-Viverito’s win with a hug in the City Council chamber, followed by cheers from their fellow councilmembers.
“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. “I look forward to working with [her] … She is a smart and committed public servant, and we have worked extremely well together in the past.”
Garodnick also vowed to do his part to “resolve any rifts” the process may have caused among colleagues.
Mark-Viverito is also the first Puerto Rican woman and the first member of the Black Latino and Asian Caucus to take the Speaker spot.
Several Queens councilmembers supported Mark-Viverito from her December announcement, including Daniel Dromm, Daneek Miller, Donovan Richards, Eric Ulrich and Jimmy Van Bramer.
They confirmed their support at the Jan. 8 vote, along with the remaining Queens delegation.
Councilmember Julissa Ferreras called Mark-Viverito a “passionate advocate for reform” to “bring transparency” to city government.
“We owe it to the people to elect a strong and principled woman,” she said.
Mark-Viverito said the vision for the “new City Council” is one of “unity, independence, integrity, transparency and accountability.”
Her agenda includes fighting for affordable housing, improving the city’s education system, raising the minimum wage and uniting for the city’s first responders.
“This council will be unified,” she said.