By Sabina Mollot
In a move that was considered somewhat unusual, in recent weeks, incoming Mayor Bill de Blasio gave a big boost to would-be City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, by asking her colleagues to give her the vote for the position, as opposed to another frontrunner for the job, Council Member Dan Garodnick.
Recently, Mark-Viverito, who represents the Upper West Side, East Harlem and part of The Bronx, essentially declared victory, saying she had the support of 30 Council members, while Garodnick has responded to say he has no intention of dropping out. The internal Council vote will take place on January 8 and this week, Garodnick told Town & Village he believes by then he’ll have enough support among his colleagues to be the winner.
That said, he knows his opponent has the edge given de Blasio’s open support.
“We haven’t has a Democratic mayor in 20 years, so obviously his influence is felt on this election,” he said. But, he added that he thought that “any declaration of victory is premature here. This is why we have elections.”
He added that he’s gotten “a very strong coalition” of members of the Council supporting his bid for speaker, which includes the entire Bronx delegation and much of the Queens and Staten Island delegations. “I’m very honored to have their backing,” he said.
As for the then mayor-elect’s interference in selecting Christine Quinn’s replacement, Garodnick stressed the need for “checks and balances.”
“We are at an important crossroads in New York City history,” he said. “We’re seeing a lot of turnover in local government. There are going to be issues in which the mayor and the City Council will part company. That’s why you need to have two distinct branches of government and we should not stray from that.”
As for why he thinks he’s the best Council member for the job, Garodnick cited his history of finding creative solutions to problems and his diplomacy skills.
In the past couple of months, Garodnick has frequently made headlines for his hesitance to support the East Midtown Rezoning plan, but he said he doesn’t believe that issue is a factor in whether or not he would get his colleagues’ support. Nor, he said, does he believe it’s an issue for other Council members that, as the Wall Street Journal recently noted, his East Side district covers one of the “wealthiest swaths” of the city. “You could say that about anyone’s district that’s different from someone else’s district,” he said. He added that any speaker has to be “a five-borough speaker” and “a person of empathy.”
Mark-Viverito did not respond to requests for comment on this story, nor did a rep for de Blasio.
On Tuesday, a story in Capital New York reported that outgoing Speaker Christine Quinn has been putting pressure on colleagues to support Garodnick, or more specifically not to support Mark-Viverito.
Previously, the Daily News reported that Mark-Viverito had the support of feminist Gloria Steinem.