By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The election of Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverio to council speaker on Wednesday was quickly praised by her City Hall colleagues, business leaders, and women’s rights groups.
Within minutes of the election, Councilman Stephen Levin (D-Greenpoint-Williamsburg) issued a statement praising Mark-Viverito’s progressive credentials. “It is incredibly important that our city move forward in a progressive direction and that is why I was honored to vote for Melissa Mark-Viverito as the next speaker of the New York City Council. Melissa is a true progressive and a leader for New York City who will work to advance the causes of all New Yorkers, including those most in need,” Levin said. “I have been proud to work with Melissa as her colleague over the last four years and I look forward to continuing our work together on the important issues that face our city."
The Puerto Rican born Mark-Viverito (D-East Harlem), who was elected to the post by her council colleagues Wednesday afternoon in a unanimous vote, is the first Latina to become council speaker in the city’s history. Her rival for the post, Councilman Dan Garodnick (D-Upper East Side) withdrew from the race.
Councilman David Greenfield (D-Borough Park-Midwood-Bensonhurst) said he was part of a “wide and diverse coalition” of council members who have been in her corner for the past month.
“I am very proud to be part of this historic vote as we usher in a new era of government in New York City. My congratulations to Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito on today’s vote and for running a great campaign. It was especially inspiring to see the entire Council unite behind Speaker Mark-Viverito out of recognition of what is best for the city. I have worked closely with Speaker Mark-Viverito over the past years and have no doubt that she will be a great leader who will represent the needs of all New Yorkers,” Greenfield said in a statement.
Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst), another early Mark-Viverito supporter, said he is confident that “she will lead our body in a more democratic, transparent and inclusive direction.”
Mark-Viverito also won praise from the National Organization for Women-New York City (NOW-NYC) for her commitment to women's issues.
"Mark-Viverito has been a powerful ally and advocate for women and girls. Electing Mark-Viverito to the number two spot puts our city in the absolute strongest position to level the playing field for women. She is a leader that reflects both the values and diversity that are New York City," NOW-NYC President Sonia Ossorio said. "The women and families of New York City are struggling: 40 percent of single mothers live in poverty, and violence against women is on the rise. We are excited to work side by side with Mark-Viverito to get to the heart of the city's growing economic divide, which we can't fix without addressing the economic hurtles, systematic discrimination, and widespread violence that women face."
The business community is excited about the new council speaker, according to Carlo Scissura, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.
"She has been an exceptional advocate for New Yorkers throughout her life and has the talent and understanding to lead the City Council. Principled and independent, Speaker Mark-Viverito's position to reduce fines aimed at small businesses has been a sign of her openness to work with the business community. She is also committed to growing businesses and supports economic development policies that benefit all neighborhoods,” Scissura said. “As the first Latina to be chosen as Council Speaker, her selection is truly historic and a celebration of New York's diversity. She understands the needs of all New Yorkers and we look forward to working with her."