By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The conventional wisdom following the election of Melissa Mark-Viverito as the new council speaker is that Mayor Bill de Blasio had such a strong hand in her candidacy, she might not have won without his help.
U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez is seeking to blow that theory out of the water.
Velazquez (D-Brooklyn-Manhattan) said the elevation of Mark-Viverito wasn’t just de Blasio’s doing and that a group of elected officials had been pushing for her to succeed Christine Quinn for more than two years.
“If there’s any media here, this is not Bill de Blasio. We were working on this 2011,” Velaquez said as she praised Mark-Viverito at the swearing in ceremony for Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D-Sunset Park-Red Hook) at Sunset Park High School on Sunday.
According to various media reports, de Blasio played a key role in Mark-Viverito’s election by calling individual council members on the phone and pushing them to vote for her for the council’s top spot.
Velazquez praised Mark-Viverito, Menchaca, and other members of the council’s now powerful progressive wing for ushering in a new era of transparency in city government where “decisions are no longer made behind closed doors.”
Menchaca, who described Velazquez as a “mentor” of his, candidly revealed at the ceremony that prominent political and business leaders in Brooklyn urged him to run for the City Council. Among them, Menchaca said, was Carlo Scissura, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, who encouraged him to seek public office when they both worked for former borough president Marty Markowitz.