Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

Melissa Mark-Viverito

Melissa Mark-Viverito

  • Ritchie Torres Ruben Diaz Sr congress

    Ritchie Torres looks at Ruben Díaz Sr. (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    This story, and the series it is a part of, has been supported by the Solutions Journalism Network, a nonprofit organization dedicated to rigorous and compelling reporting about responses to social problems.

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    New York City has had very limited success in the voter turnout department for congressional elections in recent years. For the 2018

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  • dcc jponte rikers

    (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    The Rikers Island jail complex, a notorious and decrepit institution sitting on 413 acres in the East River, was slated for closure well before New York City became the country’s epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, during which the complex has emerged as a hotspot for infections that have led to the deaths of several detainees and corrections officers.

    But the timeline for shutting down the jail complex and building local jails in four boroughs has been thrust into uncertainty by countervailing

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  • bx debate 514

    left to right: (top) Michael Blake, Chivona Newsome, Frangell Basora, Samelys Lopez
    (bottom): Melissa Mark-Viverito, Tomas Ramos, Ydanis Rodriguez, Ritchie Torres


    On Thursday, May 14, eight Democratic candidates vying to replace retiring Bronx Congressional Rep. José E. Serrano met for an online debate hosted by Gotham Gazette, City Limits, The Point CDC, and other partners.

    The debate, watched by hundreds on Zoom and Facebook Live, with a Spanish translation phone line, can be viewed via the embedded video below.

    Participating candidates were

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  • Michael Blake, Renee Chivona, Ruben Diaz Sr., Samelys Lopez, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Tomas Ramos, Ydanis Rodriguez, Ritchie Torres

    left to right: (top) Michael Blake, Chivona Newsome, Ruben Diaz Sr., Samelys Lopez
    (bottom): Melissa Mark-Viverito, Tomas Ramos, Ydanis Rodriguez, Ritchie Torres


    With longtime Representative José E. Serrano retiring from Congress after 30 years due to health reasons, his seat in New York's 15th Congressional District is effectively open and a crowded field has formed in the Democratic primary, set to be decided in June. Given it is one of the most

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  • mmv red cross

    Melissa Mark-Viverito, the author (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)


    For decades, Rikers Island has served as a clear illustration of our nation’s willingness to turn a blind eye in the face of injustice. Home to decades of violence, corruption, and cruelty, the continued operation of Rikers Island jails has been a striking reminder that our justice system is anything but just. 

    Activists, grassroots organizers, impacted individuals, elected officials, and many other New Yorkers have been demanding the closure of Rikers jails for decades,

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  • De Blasio close Rikers

    De Blasio, Johnson, Ayala & others at Rikers announcement (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    The plan to close the Rikers Island jails and replace them with four borough-based facilities has sped through the city’s land use process and is awaiting approval from the New York City Council, prompting both support and rebukes from criminal justice reform activists and those who prefer to keep most city detainees on the island. If it passes at the scheduled October 17 vote, full implementation of the plan will fall in the hands of a future mayor, perhaps two,

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  • maydbd coord off

    (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    The New York City Council’s effort to reduce the criminalization of low-level, non-violent offenses through legislation passed in 2016 has continued to further achieve its aims for the third year in a row, as the NYPD makes fewer arrests and hands out fewer criminal summonses, opting instead for civil fines. But there remain concerns about racial disparities in law enforcement, as an overwhelming number of citations are handed out to black and Latino New Yorkers.

    In 2016, the Council under former

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  • womenscaucusnyc pro ground

    The City Council Women's Caucus (photo: @WomensCaucusNYC)


    In 2009, there were 18 women in the 51-seat New York City Council. A decade later, after resignations and members term-limited out of office, that number has dropped to just 11, most of whom are serving their second and final term. It’s a paltry ratio for a legislative body that prides itself on inclusion and diversity, and one that the “21 in ‘21” initiative is striving to address.

    The nonprofit organization is building a network to boost women seeking local elected

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  • ccm j williams prelim

    Melissa Mark-Viverito & Jumaane Williams (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)


    The public advocate special election has come and gone. The implications of the results will be felt for years to come. Yet there is a debate over whether the position of public advocate should even exist. But it is here and the last two to hold the position—Bill de Blasio and Letitia James—have moved on to higher office.

    The Candidates
    Jumaane Williams, the winner of the race with 33% of the vote in a very crowded field and now the third

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  •  New York City Council

    Melissa Mark-Viverito (photo: William Alatriste/New York City Council)


    Former Speaker of the New York City Council Melissa Mark-Viverito lost her bid for public advocate in the special election held Tuesday, as Brooklyn City Council Member Jumaane Williams came out on top of a crowded field of candidates to claim victory by an unexpectedly wide margin. Mark-Viverito came in third behind WIlliams and City Council Member Eric Ulrich, the lone Republican elected official in the field of 17 candidates. It was the first-ever nonpartisan citywide special election in

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  • voting new york city

    (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    For weeks, intensifying ahead of Tuesday, friends, family, acquaintances, and colleagues have been asking for advice about who to vote for in the special election for Public Advocate. My response usually starts with a question: What do you most want in a Public Advocate?

    Sometimes that’s followed by another: How much time do you have? There are 17 candidates who will be on Tuesday’s ballot, each with certain qualities, qualifications, and visions for the office. The Public Advocate has wide

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  • public advocate new york city

    (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)


    New York City’s special election for Public Advocate will take place this Tuesday, February 26, and there will be 17 candidates on the ballot, although one has suspended her campaign. Ten of these candidates qualified for the first official televised debate, then seven of those ten qualified for the second debate. Those candidates and others in the race have also been appearing at many local forums, making the rounds on television and radio, and taking part in other aspects of campaigning as

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  • poolnytdebate 002

    Candidates at debate #1 (photo: Holly Pickett for The New York Times (pool))


    While there were disagreements over the Amazon deal that fell apart and contentious exchanges over their records, the seven candidates for public advocate who debated Wednesday night agreed on a lot, including that Mayor Bill de Blasio should not run for president and instead focus on major challenges in New York City.

    With less than a week until the Tuesday, February 26 special election vote, seven of the 17 candidates who will be on the ballot took the stage at Borough of

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  • Public Advocate debate 10 candidates

    The first debate (photo: Holly Pickett for The New York Times (pool))


    Seven candidates running in the special election for New York City Public Advocate have qualified for the second and final official televised debate, which will take place Wednesday night, just six days ahead of the February 26 election.

    There will be 17 candidates on the ballot, 10 of whom qualified for the first televised debate. Now, for the “leading contenders” debate, seven candidates met the threshold set by city law, which includes raising

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  • mxm logo

    Ben Max, left, of Gotham Gazette, and Jarrett Murphy, right, of City Limits


    February 13, 2019 - Max & Murphy Podcast: Public Advocate Candidate Melissa Mark-Viverito

    mmv wbaiMelissa Mark-Viverito is a former Speaker of the New York City Council and now a candidate for Public Advocate in the special election set for February 26. She joined the show to discuss her candidacy.

    Listen to the

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  • Public Advocate debate Feb 6 2019

    photo: Holly Pickett for The New York Times (pool)

    (l-r) Danny O'Donnell, Jumaane Williams Michael Blake, Rafael Espinal, Erich Ulrich, Ron Kim, Ydanis Rodriguez, Dawn Smalls, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Nomiki Konst


    With 10 candidates on stage and less than three weeks until election day, there were some sharp elbows at the first of two televised debates Wednesday night in the race to be the city’s next Public Advocate. The citywide special election is February 26.

    The candidates, including eight current or former

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  • public advocate candidates


    The biggest moment so far in the short, crowded, and contentious race to become the next New York City Public Advocate will be Wednesday night, as 10 qualifying candidates take the stage for the first of two televised debates.

    The citywide special election has attracted a wide and deep field of candidates -- there will be 17 names on the February 26 ballot -- including several sitting elected officials, each hoping to become the city’s watchdog and ombudsperson, one of just three citywide elected officials and next in line to the mayor. The

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  • 12 pub advjan

    (l-r) Melissa Mark-viverito, Ydanis Rodriguez, Dawn Smalls, Jumaane Williams Rafael Espinal; Danny O'Donnell, Michael Blake, Erich Ulrich, Nomiki Konst, Ron Kim


    Update: This article and its headline have been updated to clarify that 10, not 11, candidates officially qualified for the first televised debate of the race. The original version of this article included Assemblymember Latrice Walker, who appeared to have crossed the financial threshold but was ruled not to have by the Campaign Finance Board after its review of her filings.

    It’s

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  • box kim mail1600

    (portion of Ron Kim mailer)


    Assemblymember Ron Kim, a candidate for New York City Public Advocate, sent out the first mailed advertisement of his campaign this week, touting his early opposition to the deal between Amazon and New York, and contrasting it with other leading candidates in the race.

    The advertisement appears to be the first mailer of the race, a sprint to the February 26 special election to fill now-Attorney General Letitia James’ former seat. Notably, it jabs at four perceived frontrunners, highlighting their signatures on an October 2017

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  • Corey Johnson Mayor de Blasio

    Corey Johnson (photo: William Alatriste)


    One year ago, New York City Council Member Corey Johnson was near-unanimously elected speaker of the 51-member legislative body, becoming the city’s second-most powerful elected official behind the mayor. In an emotional inaugural speech, he spoke of the heavy burden the Council bears in tackling the issues that face everyday New Yorkers. “There has never been a more important time to ensure that our City has a strong, unified and independent Council to take on these challenges,” he

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  • ballot tish

    Tish James voting (photo via Gotham Gazette)


    Updated as of January 29.

    In February, New Yorkers will have the opportunity to cast a ballot for a new public advocate in the first-ever special election for a citywide office. The current vacancy was created when the most recent officeholder, Letitia James, was officially sworn in as the state’s attorney general, a position she won in the November general election.

    The public advocate is the people’s representative, a watchdog and ombudsperson, with a post that has little direct influence over city

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  • 10 candidates

    (l-r) Tish James, Ydanis Rodriguez, Melissa Mark-viverito, Jumaane Williams, Latrice Walker
    Rafael Espinal, Danny O'Donnell, Michael Blake, Erich Ulrich, Ron Kim


    There are roughly two dozen candidates who have officially declared or indicated they are exploring a run in the February special election for New York City Public Advocate, which will take place Tuesday, February 26.

    Attorney General-elect Letitia James officially vacates the office of New York City Public Advocate on January 1, setting off the next steps of the process, whereby Mayor Bill de

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  • Jumaane Williams Melissa Mark-Viverito

    Jumaane Williams & Melissa Mark-Viverito (photo: William Alatriste)


    New Yorkers who think they are done with elections until 2020 will be in for a rude awakening when Mayor Bill de Blasio calls a special election to fill the vacancy of the Public Advocate position. The position’s current occupant, Letitia James, was elected in November to become New York State Attorney General, and will switch posts at the beginning of January. In all likelihood, New York City voters will head to the polls again at the end of February. With so

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  • Mark-Viverito

    Melissa Mark-Viverito (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)


    Former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced her bid for Public Advocate on Tuesday, becoming the latest candidate to throw their hat in the ring for the wide open race to succeed Attorney General-elect Letitia James.

    Mark-Viverito, a Democrat who served as speaker from 2014 through 2017 and has since served as Vice President of the Latino Victory Fund, which seeks to elect more Latinos to office, launched her campaign with two exclusive interviews, ...

  • Rafael Espinal

    Council Member Rafael Espinal (photo: William Alatriste)


    Letitia James’ win in the race to become the next New York Attorney General means there will be a special election early in 2019 to name New York City’s next Public Advocate. The candidates for what will be a roughly three-month race were just beginning to become clear when news broke of planned City Council legislation calling for the position of public advocate to be abolished, as ...