Garodnick concedes in Council speaker race

Council Member Garodnick as pictured getting sworn in for his third term (Photo by Genevieve Michel)

Council Member Garodnick as pictured getting sworn in for his third term (Photo by Genevieve Michel)

By Sabina Mollot
The hotly contested race for speaker of the City Council ended on Wednesday afternoon with Melissa Mark-Viverito as the winner in a unanimous vote.
Town & Village was unable to reach a rep for Mark-Viverito by press time. However, Council Member Dan Garodnick, who’d refused to back down in recent weeks, conceded the race on Wednesday. The vote was held after that.
In an official statement, Garodnick called Mark-Viverito, who represents the Upper West Side, East Harlem and part of the Bronx, “a smart and committed public servant,” adding they had “worked extremely well together in the past.”
Garodnick and Mark-Viverito co-authored the Tenant Protection Act several years ago, which allows tenants to sue landlords who’ve harassed them in an attempt to get them out of their apartments.
“I look forward to supporting her work as speaker during the course of this term,” Garodnick added. “I will do my part to resolve any rifts this process may have caused among our colleagues, and am here to take any steps necessary to help move forward together.”
The successor to Christine Quinn was first elected to the Council in 2005, becoming the first Latina member to represent the 8th District. She is also now the first Latina speaker. The Puerto Rican-born Mark-Viverito is the chair of the Council’s Parks and Recreation Committee and co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. Prior to getting elected, she worked as the strategic organizer of the union 1999 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.
Mark-Viverito had been considered the frontrunner since then-incoming mayor Bill de Blasio began

City Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito

City Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito

privately campaigning for her last month, speaking to her colleagues who were on the fence.
In his statement this week, Garodnick said he looks forward to working with Mark-Viverito and “helping her to ensure that we can deliver a sound and responsible government for all New Yorkers.”
Previously, Garodnick had said he thought by Wednesday, he’d have enough support to win the position, although Mark-Viverito essentially declared victory weeks ago, saying she had the majority with 30 votes. However, the victory seemed less certain in the days leading up to the vote, when a story emerged in the press about Mark-Viverito not filing taxes for income she may have earned on rental properties she owns. In a particularly unflattering story in the New York Post, she was even accused by a former political challenger of arranging for a black magic mural of a head of a rooster to be painted on the side of the former opponent’s building. Recent news stories have also painted Mark-Viverito as the more progressive choice and Garodnick as the more moderate one.
Last week, Garodnick told Town & Village he was running because he thought it was important to have “checks and balances” in times when the Council and mayor disagree on issues.
“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 part company. That’s why you need to have two distinct branches of government and we should not stray from that.”

 

Garodnick: Speaker race is not over yet

Council Speaker hopeful Dan Garodnick

Council Speaker hopeful Dan Garodnick

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.