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De Blasio Ally Mark-Viverito Elected Council Speaker

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Melissa Mark-Viverito and other council members were sworn in by the City Clerk, just before the vote that made her speaker. (Brigid Bergin/WNYC)

Melissa Mark-Viverito, an ally of Mayor Bill de Blasio, has been elected speaker of the New York City Council.

The vote was unanimous for Mark-Viverito, a Democrat who represents East Harlem. Manhattan Councilman Dan Garodnick abandoned his bid to be speaker in the moments before the City Council's vote and threw his support behind Mark-Viverito.

Garodnick also acknowledged that the speaker race had been a "tense and grueling process."

"Please know that I will do my part to resolve and rifts that this process may have cause among us and I am here to taking any steps so that we can move forward together," said Garodnick.

Mark Viverito responded by walking across the Council chamber and hugging her one time rival.

One of the most liberal members of the council, Mark-Viverito was an early supporter of de Blasio's mayoral bid. De Blasio took the unusual step in recent weeks of injecting himself into the speaker race, calling council members to lobby on his candidate's behalf.

In remarks immediately after her election, Mark-Viverito pledged to fight for several of de Blasio's priorities, including economic equality, affordable housing, and raising the minimum wage. But she also said the council under her leadership will hold de Blasio and his administration accountable.

Her win also signals the strength of the Council's Progressive Caucus, which ultimately backed Mark-Viverito.

The speaker is widely considered the second-most powerful post in city government and has the ability to speed up or obstruct the mayor's agenda.

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