Gotham Gazette

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Remarks Of Councilwoman Mark-Viverito Upon Being Elected Speaker


Thank you. Gracias.
Before I begin I would like to say a few words in Spanish
Hoy hemos hecho historia. Estoy profundamente conmovida y emocionada por el momento en que nos encontramos. Esta victoria no solo me pertenece a mi sino a todos los puertorriqueños y latinos en esta ciudad.

I am very honored and humbled by this day.
I would like to thank friends, supporters and members of the public who have come today and those who are watching online or on TV to witness our democracy in action.
I have to acknowledge some very special guests that are here with me today, mi familia: my mother, Elizabeth Viverito Escobar and my brothers, Randy and Anthony.
They have provided the foundation and support that have helped me to arrive at this moment and I truly thank them for being here. I know my father, who never got the chance to see me as an elected official, would also be extremely proud today.
I want to thank each and every one of my colleagues today.
Whether you are from the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island or Manhattan we all have the pleasure of serving in the greatest city in the world.
I would also like to thank my friend and colleague Councilmember Garodnick.
Dan -- we’ve been colleagues since we were sworn in together in 2006 and I look forward to working with you these next four years. You are an important and strong voice in the Council and we are lucky to have you in these Chambers.   
I am proud to say that Councilmember Garodnick and I conducted the most transparent Speakers race in New York City history.
With countless forums and debates opening up the process like never before.
And while it was difficult at times that only makes today’s show of unity even better.
To my colleagues I pledge you this: I look forward to working hand in hand with you in your districts, communities and neighborhoods.
You all have a friend and ally in the Speakers office and my door will always be open.  
We will work together because that is what New Yorkers expect and deserve.
This council will be unified in our common cause- delivering for New Yorkers.
We unite for a more equal and just New York where everyone, no matter what borough you are from, what neighborhood you were raised in or who your parents were, has equal opportunities.
We will unite to create more affordable housing, improve our educational system and help those who have fallen on hard times.
We will unite to fight to raise the minimum wage for low wage workers at fast food restaurants, car washes and airports. For our undocumented immigrants who are fighting for a pathway to citizenship.
We will unite to keep our economy strong, whether you work on The Grand Concourse in the Bronx, Northern Boulevard in Queens, Flatbush Ave in Brooklyn, Victory Boulevard on Staten Island or on Wall Street.   
We will unite for our brave first responders at NYPD, FDNY, EMS and Sanitation -- Our teachers, nurses and everyone who helps make this magnificent City run.  
And yes, we will unite to hold the administration and Mayor accountable.
This is our vision for this City Council: Unity, independence, integrity, transparency and accountability.
As most of you know, I came to Nueva York at the age of 18 from Puerto Rico and have lived here ever since.
I have always loved this city. It’s the place where my mother and father were born; the place where I came to visit my grandfather during the summertime; the place where my abuela – who was part of the early Puerto Rican migration of the 1920’s and 30’s – became active.
In many ways, when I came to New York, I was following in the footsteps of my maternal grandmother, who uprooted herself from Puerto Rico – also at the age of 18 – to come to New York City in search of a better life – something unheard of at the time.
Her daughter – my mom – who proudly hails from the Bronx, went on to become a leader in Puerto Rico’s feminist movement, starting one of the first law firms on the island led by women.
So when I came to New York, it was no surprise that I found my home in activism. I have worked for two decades at the grassroots, in non-profit organizations, in labor and as a public servant.
Today marks the culmination of those years of service.
As I stand here as the first Puerto Rican Speaker, the first Latina Speaker and the first Speaker to come from the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus, I remember my time working with young people at ASPIRA of New York, a Latino youth leadership development organization.
We taught these young people to embrace their heritage and their identity, to dream big and to work hard.
I hope that as young Latinas and Latinos are witnessing this moment, they are able to dream that much bigger and are inspired to work that much harder, because we have broken through one more barrier.
Over the past few months, I’ve laid out for all of you my vision for a speakership that is open, inclusive and transparent.
A leadership style that allows all voices to be at the table, helping to shape the direction we take as a legislative body; a leadership style that puts the will of the members and the needs of their constituents before the ambitions of a speaker.
Many have stated that giving additional power to individual members will undermine the ability of the Council to function effectively.
But I believe that empowering each member will only mean that all of us will take greater ownership over this body and work that much harder to preserve its power and its integrity.
This is our vision for the “New” New York City Council.
And once again, a major gracias, to all of my colleagues.
I look forward to continuing to work with each and every one of you to serve the great people of the City of New York.
Thank you

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