After New York City elected a new mayor, the city council speaker’s race began to heat up behind closed doors. Why behind closed doors, might you ask? This race is not to be determined by the constituents of New York, but rather by all 51 city council members in a vote scheduled today. Now, with 48 of the 51 city council members from the Democratic Party, this race is hardly in the Republican’s favor. Most significantly, motivations are high for newly elected mayor, Bill de Blasio, in ensuring the future speaker’s ambitions fall in line with his progressive agenda, especially considering the speaker’s prime responsibilities include working towards consensus with the mayor and city council on issues including overseeing city agencies, zoning, and setting the city’s budget.
The race for the secondmost powerful political office in the city after the mayor has two contenders, frontrunner Melissa Mark-Viverito, Councilwoman from District 8 (East Harlem), and Dan Garodnick, Councilman from District 4 (Upper East Side into Midtown East). Bill de Blasio’s top choice and candidate who received 30 official statements of support from council members is Mark-Viverito. The 30 official statements of support are four more votes than what is required in order to become elected speaker. Leading up to today’s anticipated vote, the candidates faced off in debates in public forums throughout all five boroughs. Along with this process and even more influential, numerous behind-the-scenes dealings among political brokers and special interests groups set forth by the de Blasio’s progressive caucus have strongly influenced the great majority of councilmembers who provided the official statements of support for Mark-Viverto. The measures de Blasio is taking are unconventional and causing quite a stir amongst Democrats.
The absolute goal of de Blasio in his quest to secure a self-selected speaker is that the newly elected speaker’s agenda aligns with his, and he/she is ready to work with him, not against him. Therefore, tying Mark-Viverto’s foreseen victory directly to de Blasio and his influencers now ties Mark-Viverto directly to the progressive caucus. While she holds the position of speaker, this notion of indebtedness to his extreme efforts further enhances de Blasio’s high-strung liberal agenda. de Blasio’s agenda also comes with pending rules of reform. These spark from former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s iron grip of control on the council over the past 8 years. The progressive caucus is aiming for progressive legislation and rules reform in order to put the checks on the power on the speaker. As the progressive caucus grows and sways their choice for the race, it is highly questionable whether or not county leaders are still powerful enough to sway the decision, or if members of this such progressive bloc will decide to vote with their caucus coalition.
Even with the battle between the two Democratic candidates heating up, the three Republican city council members’ influence still remains slight. Two Republican members hail from Staten Island and one from Queens. Both Mark-Viverto and Garodnick have expressed they will push forward continued Hurricane Sandy relief aid, in which all three districts with Republican representation were most affected. However, with only three Republican members on city council, the GOP is currently denied majority incentives, including chairing committees. Nonetheless, these council members pledged to voice opposition in areas including Mark-Viverto’s decision not to recite the Pledge of Allegiance during city council meetings, the Provision of sick time earned by employees, and the tax increases on high-income earners in order to fun pre-K.
With the favorable candidate for city council speaker so closely aligned with Bill de Blasio and with only three sitting city council members from Republican party, the agenda and policies set forth are highly unlikely to be anything but favorable for the Republican party. This also is a huge indication of how much force, power, and change de Blasio is not afraid of igniting in order to move his progressive agenda forward. Stay tuned today for the initial unfortunate and negatively impacting outcome of Bill de Blasio’s mayoral victory. This is only the beginning.
Written by Melissa Marovich
Live feed and Researched by Mona Salama