Latina in Race for 2nd Most Powerful City Job

She may have a 94 percent win under her belt, but Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito of District 8 (East Harlem, Mott Haven), isn’t done. At her victory party Tuesday night, she announced that she is running for City Council speaker, reports Mott Haven Herald‘s Steven Trader.

City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito speaking at her victory part on Election Day. (Photo by Steven Trader via Mott Haven Herald)

Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito speaking at her victory part on Election Day. (Photo by Steven Trader via Mott Haven Herald)

“I am going to continue to campaign until January because I am looking to be the next speaker of the City Council,” Mark-Viverito told a small crowd of backers, who erupted in applause. “I welcome your support, although it’s my 50 other colleagues whose support I need to elect me.”

The speaker will be selected by the Council’s 51 members in January; 28 of them are newly elected. Mark-Viverito, an ally of Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, will likely seek support in the large bloc of progressive members who swept into office with de Blasio.

Although the Council vote is what counts in the end, the selection of the speaker has historically been heavily influenced by the leaders of the county Democratic organizations. Bronx Democratic Chairman Carl Heastie, an assemblyman from the northeast Bronx, was at the annual gathering of politicians in Puerto Rico and not available for comment.

Local activist Flenoy Withers III, who voted for Mark-Viverito, knew the councilwoman for her Participatory Budget program.

The program gives community residents a direct say in how some public money is spent in their neighborhood. The program is expected to spread next year because several of the new incoming council members say they will employ it in their districts.

Other constituents in the district were not as thrilled about the win, particularly in the Bronx.

Mark-Viverito, who has held her seat since 2006, picked up more of the Bronx after redistricting including most of Mott Haven and some of Highbridge, both in the southwestern part of the borough. While the councilwoman was “committed to opening a ‘full-functioning’ second office in the Bronx,” two Bronxites interviewed had little faith in any politician representing their neighborhood.

“I didn’t bother to vote because I don’t really care,” said Samantha Acevado, 18, who lives in the Patterson Houses. “Nothing ever gets fixed around here.”

Anna Tores, 40, of the Millbrook Houses, said she had heard good things about Mark-Viverito but still decided not to vote this year.

“I don’t think the politicians are doing what they need to do,” Tores said. “They need to work more in the Bronx.”

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