NYC council speaker hits 7 inaugurations in 1 day
New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito crisscrossed three boroughs Sunday to attend the inaugurations of seven council colleagues -- a display of support after a divisive battle for her leadership post ended earlier this month.
"I am the speaker of the City Council, and my colleagues are important to me," she said outside Councilmember Corey Johnson's swearing-in at a Chelsea church. "It's important to continue to support their efforts. This is the way that the community celebrates their elections . . . and I'm excited about the work we have ahead of us."
She began her day at the Upper East Side inauguration of Ben Kallos and ended the marathon tour about six hours later at Mathieu Eugene's Flatbush, Brooklyn, swearing-in.
Mark-Viverito will further present a united front Monday in Albany, where she will join Mayor Bill de Blasio and 16 fellow council members to push the mayor's universal prekindergarten plan and present testimony on Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's budget.
The speaker, of East Harlem, backs de Blasio's proposal to finance universal prekindergarten and after-school programs with a tax hike on those making more than $500,000 in the city. Cuomo, by contrast, has proposed paying for statewide universal prekindergarten with a budget surplus. De Blasio has said a "dedicated" revenue steam would be more reliable.
"Our mission is to respond to the governor's budget, to support universal pre-K as defined by the mayor," Mark-Viverito said of Monday's trip to the capital.
Mark-Viverito last month declared victory in the City Council speaker's race weeks before the Jan. 8 internal vote was set to take place, citing the support of 30 colleagues. De Blasio had lobbied council members on her behalf. She ultimately was chosen speaker by a unanimous 51-to-0 vote after opponent Dan Garodnick supported her the day of the vote.
Last week, she doled out committee chair assignments and included Garodnick, of Manhattan's East Side, and Republican Minority Leader Vincent Ignizio, of Staten Island's South Shore, in the leadership circle.
Of the 51 council seats, all but four received leadership roles: Annabel Palma of Parkchester, Bronx; Andy King of Williamsbridge, Bronx; Rosie Mendez of the Lower East Side; and Rory Lancman, of Hillcrest, Queens. All four opposed Mark-Viverito's bid until the day of the vote.
Council Member Ritchie Torres, of East Bronx, a Mark-Viverito ally and chair of the public housing committee, yesterday said the speaker was "magnanimous" with her assignments.
"The speaker made a real effort to create a team of rivals, so to speak, to bring in former opponents," he said.
Council member Ydanis Rodriguez, of Washington Heights, Manhattan, an early Mark-Viverito supporter who was named chair of the council's transportation committee, Sunday said the legislative body is moving forward together.
"Hopefully, with her leadership, we will see important changes when it comes to every council member getting the support they need to deliver to their community," he said.