Melissa Mark-Viverito Is First Latino To Be Named City Council Speaker In New York City

The Puerto Rican progressive becomes the second-most powerful person in the city behind Mayor Bill de Blasio.

1. Melissa Mark-Viverito, a Puerto Rican liberal from Harlem, was named city council speaker Wednesday, becoming the first Hispanic to hold the position.

Lucas Jackson / Reuters

2. There had been drama and suspense over whether Mark-Viverito would easily ascend to the second-most powerful position in the city, or would face a bitter fight, but it was seemingly squashed when her opponent Dan Garodnick conceded and embraced her.

Lucas Jackson / Reuters

It was a colorful campaign, with one of Mark-Viverito’s rivals in the Democratic primary suing her for an alleged Santeria curse involving a mural of a chicken.

3. The new mayor, who did some shoveling after taking office, now has “a partner at the controls of the legislative branch who shares his ideology and much of his agenda,” the New York Times reported.

Handout / Reuters

4. The new speaker, who founded the New York City progressive caucus, is a darling of Latino officials and organizations in the city, who are excited by her historic election.

Lucas Jackson / Reuters

Congratulations to our new speaker the honorable @melissamarkviverito #herstory

— RhinaValentin (@Rhina Valentin)

Mark-Viverito Is Elected City Council Speaker @MMViverito Congratulations!! Very Proud of Melissa

— Soldanela (@Soldanela)

Congratulations to Melissa Mark-Viverito! Mark-Viverito Is Elected City Council Speaker- NYC @Latism_NYC

— VanessaYPerez (@Vanessa Perez)

!Que vivan las mujeres! RT Mark-Viverito Is Elected City Council Speaker

— WrightEliza (@Eliza Wright)

10. While de Blasio and Mark-Viverito agree when it comes to income inequality and empowering unions, they have their differences.

Lucas Jackson / Reuters

De Blasio has spoken against a bill in the Council to legalize non-citizen voting, a measure Mark-Viverito — an outspoken advocate for immigrants’ rights — co-sponsored, according to Capital New York.

De Blasio has also called for an end to the Council’s “member items,” discretionary funds allocated to individual members for nonprofits in their districts. He said they are an invitation to fraud, but the new speaker has said she favors amending the process to give lower-income districts more money.

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Adrian Carrasquillo is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Adrian Carrasquillo at
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